Breathing through the verbing

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
I’ve started my column at least five times this week. I’ve started writing about verbing, about certificates, about all the -isms, about Halloween (and Halloweening, in an effort to link up with the verbing), and the only thing I haven’t started writing about is the thing that I’m trying not to pay attention to. So I keep starting, and not finishing, the writing.

Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin
The thing I haven’t started writing about is that I’m anxious. I’m anxious about the writing. About my lack of proper writing education that means I didn’t know what verbing was until I was today years old and had to look it up and ask. About the state of the world and the state of my heart. I’m anxious about the racists and the sexists and the gaycists and the fascists and the capitalists and the single-wrapped lollies and the single-use culturally-devoid orange and black and stormtrooper costumes and the kids who don’t have the costumes and want them and the kids who don’t want to wear them but have to go out in them anyway because nobody likes a spoilsport and isn’t it fun? Isn’t it, though? Going out and just getting, getting, getting as much as you can? Fun, fun, fun. It’s only fifty something days until Christmas, write a list. Buy your way calm in the world.

In Poland they do All Souls Eve and Day instead of Halloweening, and its beautiful watching the graveyards lit up with the yellowed lights of yellow glass cemetery candles. But in Poland they’ve also, this week, passed some horrifically restrictive abortion laws, and they’re trampling all over LGBTQ+ rights — in the name of a god they’re calling love and their government is saying that it’s the protesters who are the problem, and how dare they use their archaic shame structures to control other peoples bodies? But they dare. And that’s only one place, dear to my one heart, in this time. There is so much of so many isms to fight. And it’s all very well to say breathe and be here now and be OK now. But it’s not, they’re not, we’re not OK.

I’ve been pretty successful, I think, at invisibling my panic attacks, and myself, until I couldn’t. A panic attack, I’ve always told myself, is such a selfish thing. Writing about it would be such a selfish thing.

Like. That. Helps.

Turns out that a panic attack is like domestic abuse, in that the more you listen about it, talk about it, write about it, the more you realise you’re not alone. Noticing, breathing, breathing, noticing.

Last week I went to a meeting where I didn’t know people and had to talk and I didn’t externally scream or run away. This week I went yogaing in a small room with other people and didn’t even internally scream and run away, though I did some heavy breathing but I think I got away with it because yoga.

And this is where the certificates fit in. It’s prizegiving season and while I truly, truly, truly do enjoy celebrating other people’s successes, I’m watching anxious young people I know already anxioused that they’re not prizeworthy material.

Which ties this back into what we prize. It’s all connected, after all.

What makes the panic recede and the protests succeed, I’ve noticed, is showing up.

Nobody, I’ve noticed, gets certificated for showing up. And breathing. Or if they do, it’s like a consolation prize, or a silver star fridge chart, and not for actual winners. Winning is a single-wrapped lolly situation. Hollow-win.



We know of the fully certificated linesperson for the County. Im anxious about the baggage retrieval system they have at Llubljana. Panic attacks happen to people with atavistic connection to their ancient routes. The brain notices the heart is thumping and the brain panics.

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