It’s extremely bizarre to notice about five minutes after the fact, occasionally maybe 1 through to 10 minutes after, that you didn’t panic. There is no resounding trumpet call to announce your triumph. The event occurs as it would have were you without panic disorder, perhaps with a kick of frustration or even brief tears, or a simple curse. But the point is that the event happens and it’s over and you didn’t even notice it go by. Success (of treatment), if it can be called success, occurs with no joy and no attention, and it is only a backwards glance over your shoulder to moments ago, compared with a year ago, that you are reminded of what you’ve been trying to accomplish. It’s like the surprise of hearing the egg timer go off when you’d gotten lost in your book and forgot you were making eggs, but at the same time were expecting it all along.
And it’s not like you were making cookies or bread, either. You’re not rewarded with an intensely delicious smell. You’re not even actually given an egg afterwards. It’s like you’re a child who stops having temper tantrums over having to have a nap, but it’s only because you’ve finally truly outgrown naps, and there isn’t any reason to get upset.
Not with a bang but with a whimper.
It’s a curious sort of emptiness, perhaps stillness, to stand in the kitchen having just finished mopping up the milk, and you’re struck by a memory of spilling milk long ago and crying, and now you look down almost as if to cry out of habit and you realize you’ve already cleaned everything up, there’s nothing to cry over now, and it was that simple. (I wish that were more metaphorical than it actually is/was).
It isn’t sad, like thinking, I need to tell my grandmother about today, and then remembering for the hundredth time this year that she died last November. Nor is it a happy surprise, such as, I need to get a Christmas present for Jonathan – no wait, I already got him that one two months ago because I saw it and it was perfect – hey, cool, I’m set! It’s a long awaited phenomenon, and yet it passed without salutation. You’re alone somehow, and it’s both independent and lonely and also confused, surprised, relieved, grateful, and perhaps most of all, just obvious and accepted, as if you remembered how Pythagoras’ theorem went right when you needed to, and your grade 9 math had been so ingrained that you didn’t have to recall it, and then suddenly you realize, hey wait, I knew that, all by myself, and without even trying. Well, then.
I’m not sure what it goes to show, but it happened. Maybe it will happen again.