When I was younger, probably about 6 or 7 me and my family went to a family friends’pool party. It was a last hoorah party, something to close out the summer before school started. I honestly can’t remember much, just snippets of laughing and running around but mostly I remember the pool itself.

The above ground stood almost as tall as my then height (It was nearly 20 years ago and even now I stand at an underwhelming 5'5"/ 164 cm.) Almost all of the kids there were taller than me, older than me and had the distinct advantage of knowing how to swim.

I can’t remember what led to me getting into the pool but I remember struggling with the yellow vest to help me stay afloat, I remember climbing into the pool, my limbs hesitant to release the ladder.

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I remember my mouth barely coming above the water, even with the vest and standing on my toes. I remember the feeling of utter chaos as everyone playing around me, happy, laughing and completely out of tune with every thing I was feeling. I remember feeling lost and helpless, even when a friend helped me out of the pool a few moments later. I remember people asking me throughout the party how I was feeling and not wanting to say that I wasn’t angry with the other kids or even the adults who let me go in but with myself for being so stupid and biting off more than I could chew.

20 years later, I sit on my bed, in the throes of a panic attack, not quite understand what emotionally or mentally led to this moment, I’m stuck with that memory of that brief moment in the pool. My panic attacks is that moment over and over again; desperately trying to keep my head above water, being lost in a crowd of other people laughing and happy, wanting to lie to people about how I’m feeling because it’ll bring them down, me thinking that my fear is both my fault and my punishment.

Fortunately, I do now remember that the secret hero of the story is the friend who helped me out of the pool. I honestly can’t tell you who it was but I am thankful both to them and the friends who pull me out of my head now, no matter how much I might lash out or rage at that moment.

Thank you.