Being a writer is a big part of my life. So is my anxiety. If you Google "Lewis Mundt anxiety," things actually come up.
I had my first panic attack about six years ago, in college. I was up late, trying to finish an overdue paper, and my computer died. Really died. I pressed the power button over and over, and when I realized my work was gone, I blacked out. I came to in the shower, crying and scrubbing the drain with my toothbrush and wondering if I was going to drown. That's a thing people who live with anxiety and panic disorders say sometimes: that the first time they had an attack, they thought they were going to die. I felt incredibly alone, and I also felt like something inside me was broken and I shouldn't talk about it. That added to the isolation.
A few years later I joined an anxiety and depression support group. I learned that what I'd been having were panic attacks (and that other people had them, which was a relief), but I also became aware of struggles I'd been having since I was a child. I remembered moments of dissociating from my body, of hiding, of locking myself in rooms and not knowing why I didn't want to come out. I started learning a new language to talk about my relationship with myself. I realized I'd been writing toward this unnamed confusion and loneliness for as long as I could remember, and my work became more focused as I learned to actively participate in my emotional health. Addressing fear through creating has helped me process and manage it.
Earlier this year, I was working on a piece about not being able to calm down, and I wrote, If I was a superhero, I'd be the Human Panic Attack. I changed course and wrote a new poem called The Human Panic Attack. Then I wrote another. And another. Over 48 hours, I wrote 25 poems personifying my experiences living with anxiety as a superhero. I felt something shaking loose after a long time, and even in the short time since, it's helped to have them. They've given me a new way to be almost in conversation with my hesitations instead of feeling so haunted by them.
I started thinking about what I should do with the poems (because I'm a publisher and that's what we do sometimes.) Should I release them as a Beard Poetry project? Should I submit them to journals? Should I wait until I could write more of them and try to send out a manuscript? I talked to a few local artists about designing covers. I wondered what it would take to turn them into a real comic book. But I decided that, at least for now, I wanted to release them as a pay-what-you-want chapbook. I want them in the world. I think that sometimes I go to poetry because it helps me feel less alone, and I didn't want to put a barrier between these poems and someone who might read them and get to feel the same way.
Maybe there'll be a physical release someday. Maybe not. Maybe they'll just live here in my little corner of the internet and that'll be enough. In the meantime, below are two links. One is a PDF of my new chapbook, The Human Panic Attack. The other is a Paypal link that goes straight to me. Feel free to click either, or both, or neither. Thank you for any of it, and for giving it a shot.