every time it happens it amazes me. i can be sitting happily at home or lying in bed, nodding off after a tiring day, or even watching tv, or reading a book, then it creeps up. the little nag at first, a small tapping of the needle in a corner of my brain. Tap. Tap. i try to ignore it. refocus on going to sleep, focusing on the programme or the page. TAp. TAp. my stomach begins to clench as it know what is coming. TAP. TAP. then the voices, the cry of what ifs reexamining the day and where i went wrong or think i went wrong. did that person really mean that or were they hiding their true feelings. maybe they secretly despise. you may think that would be enough but not for my mind. it is just getting warmed up. now we top it off with predictive what ifs. what if i do something wrong at work tomorrow? what if my boss sees it? what if they find out i’m not any good? what if – what if – what if. it yells in my ear. my heart beats fast. i begin to sweat. everything around me is reduced to nothing. i just hear the voices. you’re a charlatan! you deserve to fail! you’re no good to anyone. i try to focus on my breathing like i’ve been taught. centre my mind on a single part of my body. focus. come on, focus! the voices laugh and yell at volume. out of control. they jump from cell to cell in my brain. kicking at the positive, knocking it down, crushing it under foot. count to ten, count to ten, count to ten. focus on your breathing. then the disasters tear up as punishment. the abject fears of harm to my family. did i lock the doors? is everyone safe? the voices come back: but if you did lock them, can you be sure? can you be trusted? surely, something so important can’t be trusted to you? count to ten. count to ten. count to ten. breathe in slowly. hold it. breathe out. focus on the toe. the right toe. now follow the toe along the leg. take a journey. one part at a time. the voices quieten to a whisper, not completely gone, just murmuring enough for me to know they are there. i get up, walk to the kitchen, and pour myself a glass of wine.