Here I sit, on a porch in the mountains of Banner Elk, North Carolina, overlooking a ski slope. Ironically, there’s a sign over the porch that reads, “Porch Therapy.”

 

It’s dark outside. Just a few lights scattered above the frozen muddy white swath of snow. My eyes adjust between the leafless trees to the fast-moving shadowy figures as they zip by, one after the other over the frozen ground. Each one faster than the previous.

 

Their speed makes me nauseous. I close my eyes.

 

My diaphragm feels achingly tight. A sensation between the immediate fullness of overeating and the dread a child senses as he awaits his punishment from a disappointed parent.

 

I catch myself holding my breath. My shoulders are tense and clinched upward. Every muscle is tired as if I’ve been keeping them in this position since before I can remember.

 

I try to take a deep breath and drop my shoulders. But my breath is shallow and urgent. My shoulders relax for a moment before they instinctively return to their taught position – tension.

 

Now, my thoughts are racing from one memory to the next. From the past to the unknown. I can’t concentrate. The images I see are out of focus. My mind keeps changing the View Master as it searches for something it can lock onto. A slide of a memory that’s in focus. Any memory.

 

Nothing. I am growing frustrated and anguished.

 

I open my eyes. I take another deep breath. This time my chest rises in extension. I hold it. Then exhale. My body deflates and I sink back into the wooden chair beneath me.

 

I am exhausted. Lightheaded.

 

This isn’t over for me.

 

I am way down in it and it’s just the beginning.

 

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