The swivel stool squeaked as my doctor shifted his weight from left to right, a line forming between his brows as he listened to me, but mostly my mom, explain everything.
After taking a deep breath, his shoulders sagged a little, "Well, Mandie... You're in rough shape."
I just nodded. I was in some sort of shape and it was far from good. I'd never been here before, a full blown agoraphobic who couldn't stand the thought of taking a shower or peeking through the blinds, the anxiety had closed in around me so tight and thick that except for breathing and my heart beating of it's own accord, I'd stopped living.
My doctor started jotting down notes and scrolling through his little screen thing that let him look up any pharmaceutical medicine and it's details.
The exam room was so quiet, I could hear myself breathing.
Sitting in the chair next to the doctor was my mom, while I sat wringing my hands on the exam table. It was like awaiting a death sentence. Just how bad was I? Could I be cured? My heart was racing in my chest, like it did on a regular basis these days.
My doctor broke the silence, "I'm going to prescribe Celexa, 20 mg to start with. It's an SSRI anti-depressant, works well for anxiety, but it will take a few weeks to see any difference. You take it once a day, everyday. I'm also going to prescribe Klonopin, 1 mg to take as needed for your panic attacks. This isn't a scheduled medication, like the Celexa, so just take it as you need it."
He handed the paper for the prescriptions to my mom, giving me a sad smile as he got up and walked out of the room.
That's all I got these days. Sad smiles.
No one knew how to deal with my inability to deal, except to give these strange smiles that looked more like grimaces. Like it hurt to look at me.
I got it. It hurt to look at myself. There was no friend to be found in the mirror. But my family was pained that there was not a thing they could do to help me out of this.
Alex loved me anyways, like he always had, like it wasn't hard, like it was the most natural thing in the world to have a girlfriend who hyperventilated at the thought of walking out her front door.
Kim was angry that her big sister was completely useless when she needed me the most, she'd just walked across the stage of her high school graduation a few months ago, and now she could go into labor with her first child any day now. And I thought I was scared.
Mom was trying to fix me. The counselors, the doctor, the self-help books, the affirmations, the prayers... God love her. She was trying.
Dad knew exactly what was happening to me and would give me these long looks washed in worry, but there was something else there behind his eyes. There always had been. Like he was watching history repeat itself, but was powerless to hand me whatever it was that had helped him overcome this same affliction when he was in his twenties. He'd said it time and time again and would say it many more times in the years to come, "Babe, I can give you all the advice in the world on how to handle the anxiety, but until it clicks up here," he'd vigorously tap his forehead, "That it's just fear, you're gonna be stuck in that cage."
I didn't understand how my dad had stepped across that threshold from fear to just fear. It was like a magical portal. Like Narnia.
I was trying to find my Narnia.
The next time I had a panic attack, with my filled prescription of Klonopin on the counter, I hesitated for just a moment and then took the plunge and swallowed the tiny green pill.
It was an absolute miracle, for the next 4 hours, when I wasn't sleeping through the haze, I could feel no fear. I could've skydived off the Empire State building. I could've walked into combat on a battlefield. I could've seen a clown wielding a chainsaw and still I would've felt no fear.
Through the translucent orange of a RiteAid prescription bottle, I'd found my portal. I'd found Narnia.
I just couldn't stay longer than 4 hours at a time.