Well, first off, it's chronic, unless it's not.
High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is frantically taking notes while having a heart-to-heart with a friend because you don't want to lose their loving words. You don't want to forget the part when they said you are amazing. You are strong. You're fighting the good fight. You're healthier than you think. You are not sick.
It's finding an activity, any activity- having a solo dance party until midnight at your empty yoga studio because you just can't go home yet. And you like dancing, but really it’s a carefully choreographed distress signal, trying to tire out the thoughts stuck in your head, like they were a toddler.
High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is being so hungry but you don't want to eat. Nothing sounds good. Nothing tastes good. It won't go down well and it won't come out well, so you might as well just be hungry.
It's having orgasms that sound like you're terrified. Because you are.
High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is rolling your eyes when a dear friend texts you multiple times a day. You just want to be left alone and for Christ's sake, WHAT do they want this time? And why do they want YOU?
It's when you really want to talk to your Mother, but you just can't pick up the phone. You wish you could. But you can't.
High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is your heart racing while sitting perfectly still. And nausea. And imagining yourself vomiting so much and so violently that it's cathartic. Like, the devil would be expelled from you. And God that would feel so good. You just want to get it out.
High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is very similar to depression. But you're not depressed. You can't be. You're NOT depressed. And you don't need medication. Okay?? Got it??
It's trying to speed up conversations with people so you can go right back into your head to sort through things and figure out what you need to do to feel better. To feel whole again. ...it's also not being able to figure out why in holy hell someone is so interested in taking to you. I mean, fuck.
You're irritable. So very irritable.
High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is like holding a baby that won't stop crying. And you've tried everything. Almost everything. You haven't tried the thing that might work, because, well, it might actually work. And then what?
It's wanting so badly to be touched. By another human. But every time you are, you're only focused on when they're gonna get tired of touching you. When it will end. Because it will always end before you're ready for it to.
High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is keeping mental score of how many times you've reached out to a friend for help, so you don't use up all your turns. Oh, and your "turns" are based on your warped definition of friendship and how little you feel you deserve it.
It's imagining how you'd one day unload, emotionally. Really fall to pieces. Come undone. Lose your mind. Where you'd be. What you'd be wearing. Who would see it. What they would think. How they'd respond. Where the camera would be. What the Director would want.
High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is TV shows on DVD. Always playing. Season after season after episode after episode after episode. Background noise. There MUST always be background noise.
It's confusing replying to a text with being chased by a lion. It's also when answering a text impulsively and thoughtlessly is an act of bravery.
It’s sobbing because the worst-case-scenario that just went through your head at high speed seems so real, so vivid, that even when it’s proven to be untrue, it takes hours for you to feel calm again. Hours.
It's knowing that no one really knows you. Because if they did...
High-Functioning, Low-Level Panic is also...
a quiet knowing; a knowing that nothing is permanent. It's a very subtle yet recognizable suspicion that this will pass, and only its gifts will remain; a desire for a higher standard of thriving and a lower tolerance for suffering. It is the knowing that a good first step is staring at it in the eye and calling it by its name.
High-Functioning, Low-Level Panic knows that just because its high-functioning doesn't mean it's healthy. High-functioning is not a noble way to suffer and it doesn't pretend to be.
It asks us to pause for just a moment and breathe. And phone a friend without the urge to take notes. To just listen. To just be listened to. And personally, my High-Functioning, Low-Level Panic reminds me to use my oils consistently. And do Yoga (only some days. Other days it's the worst idea ever.)
Hang out here, my friends. Make friends with whatever you've named your feelings. They are here to transform you, move you, test you, love you...and it may not seem like it today, but in the end, it won't let you down. And neither will I.