my body ached. it was a dull, numbing pain. everything was inflamed. when i spoke, my words were slurred, like a drunk’s. my mind was moving at a snail’s pace, yet it felt like too much was happening. it was difficult forming coherent sentences. every time i tried, i would get lost between the words and disappear into the recesses of my own mind, before being brought back to the present. i was living half a life. the sky, a thunderous grey, starts to crackle. the wind wraps itself around me like a cocoon. i feel every inch of my body and i really wish i didn’t. i peer over the cliff’s edge. the waves below crash violently against the rocks. the water is emerald-green and as the waves crash against the rocks, large puffs of sea-foam rise and cascade down the sharp ridges before dissolving back into the sea. i want the sea to wash over me. whether i get lost in its destruction or come out of its creation, is not up for me to decide. i watch as a single white bird flies over the water effortlessly. i am suddenly reminded of another time in my existence. in a past life, i lived in athens, greece. i was a gifted child, an intuitive who saw things that were not visible to the common naked eye. i was one with nature, connected to all aspects of it — particularly the birds. one bird, with majestic white wings, always followed me wherever i went; and whenever i noticed it, i would be immediately struck with a realization of sorts. i bring myself back to reality again with my nervousness. my fingers tap my thighs anxiously. is the white bird now an omen and not a sign of hope? the nerves at the ends of my fingertips start to feel like they’re being zapped at. i’m experiencing that ‘pins and needles’ sensation again that often do just before something bad happens. my heartbeat starts racing, nearly pounding out of my chest. i remind myself that i am alive, breathing. i’m not dying, not yet at least. it feels like there is something hovering behind me — a dark presence, an unwanted guest. i glance briefly to see what it is only to find my shadow staring back at me with dead eyes. she doesn’t bother with a smile or a frown; she looks at me flat-faced, devoid of any emotion. i half expect her to snarl at me. she doesn’t. i can’t turn around away from her; she won’t let me. i inch towards her instead, anger and hatred bubbling up inside of my body. “this is all your fault,” i shout. a stroke of lightning flashes around us and sends large chunks of dirt, flowers, and grass flying every which way. some of it hits me, leaving black marks all over my bare skin.calmly, she replies “this is not my fault.”“are you trying to make a fool of me? you’ve done this to me. i’m dying because of you.”“i have done nothing but exist. you have been feeding me all your life. it’s not me, it’s you.”no. no. i clench my fists, “no. this is you. this has always been you!” i scream, irate that she would even dare to tell me that this is all my fault. i shake my fist and feel a sharp pain go through my arm. my veins, which have always been a light blue hue running up my forearm turn into a venomous black. i stumble backwards.“you are feeding me,” she says, stepping forward. my chest starts shaking far too fast for comfort. i am having a panic attack again. “what are you doing?”“me? i’m not doing anything.”what are these mind games? she is killing me. she is going to kill me. i can feel that dull stabbing pain in my chest start coming back. all the energy that exists within my body moves towards the right arm and rests there. it feels like I’m having a stroke. i can’t breathe. oh god, i can’t breathe. no, no, breathe, it’s okay. ‘i intend to feel calm’, i tell myself. i’m calm. okay, i am not calm, i can’t do this. it’s getting tighter. it’s tight. my chest is getting tighter. it feels like a rod of lightning is being struck through me and i cannot stop it even if i want to try. this must be how i die. behind my shadow, i see a flash of white move quickly behind her. ”what’s your happy place?” a tiny voice pushes through the darkness and reaches an open and empty part in my consciousness. everything goes quiet. a field. a field of lush grass where i can see mountains in the distance and lone trees that i can dance around. sunlight, glimmering, warm sunlight that kisses my skin and uplifts my soul. the ocean, light blue like the sky and crystal-clear like a diamond. this happy place does not need to physically exist to make me happy. the thought alone is enough to make me happy. i stay focused on this happy place no matter how hard the fearful thoughts try to push through. i block them out of my happy place with a mental metal fence. no matter how hard they try, they cannot get in. they will not get in.i rub my hands against each other and touch my fingers together to center myself. i am breathing and i am still alive. my shadow looks at me with a smile and she begins to fade away from view. her silhouette disappears into the ether. in the not-so-far distance, perched atop a long tree branch, is a beautiful white bird.