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A Pocket Archive (9)

What does it feel like?

It's instantaneous. It starts in your stomach and makes you feel sick; a harsh, sinking feeling that's almost like a punch in the gut, if a punch could tear at you from the inside. It's not quite like nausea, and not quite vertigo, but it's definitely a rush, and it feels like everything suddenly gets pulled in and down. Suddenly your breathing is quiet and shallow, and the blood races down your legs in a hot burst, the opposite of how it does when you're on a roller-coaster. You become aware that you can feel your heartbeat in the arches of your feet, and your body screams at you to either fight or to make yourself small and to hold very, very still. It's almost like you're being squished, or like the air around you is being drawn away, like someone is vacuum-sealing your body inside a plastic bag. Or maybe like you're a bag of frosting that someone grabs in the middle and squeezes far, far too hard, so that all the icing just comes rushing out the bottom in a giant splat.

You feel an electric chill run down your neck, starting from your ears, then tracing its way down your sternocleidomastoid muscles in a v-shape until it reaches your sternum, and your heart rate spikes. Your wrists get numb, your fingers start to tingle, and the inside of your forearms feel odd, like they aren't there, sort of like when your arm or leg falls asleep, minus the pins and needles sensation. All of this happens in a matter of milliseconds.

You know how your face gets hot when you're angry and the blood suddenly rushes to your head? Imagine that in reverse. It's not fear exactly, and not anger, but something all its own. When triggered, it feels like an invisible lightswitch gets pushed abruptly, which instantly makes everything difficult to navigate. To make it worse, everyone around you can still see while you're doing all you can not to stumble and give way to panic. This part feels like the same feeling you'd get if a police officer was giving you a sobriety test by telling you to walk in a straight line or to recite the alphabet backwards, but you've made yourself so nervous that you fail, even though you haven't even been drinking.

That's it. That is what it feels like.


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