Falling In Love With Me: Mind

By Jessica Edwards

How can a ten year old explain the surreal realization that my consciousness, my soul doesn’t end —that I’m here and there is no turning back? How does a ten year old explain becoming keenly aware that life is inescapable? How frightening it was to give myself a pinch or let out a shriek and not be awakened. How can I put into words the overwhelming awareness of my humanity and my eternal spirit? I could quit anything, I mean, I quit ballet, and piano. Everything had an end. With books and movies, my mind could leave that world. But not this time, and I felt like the heaviness of my understanding was closing in on me; I felt claustrophobic. But all I could express and repeat over and over was, “it’s reality,” when I tried to define my fear, and I knew it wasn’t clear enough when I saw my parents’ puzzled faces, and then my heart began to beat faster.

I unleash three quick, sharp blows of my palm against my temple.




Stricken, the anxious troops descend, rushing from the folds of my brain where they nestled, and spilling into the foreground.

I see them wrangle in an agitated scene before me.

I squeeze my tormented lids firm and emit a guttural battle cry--

a blockade, obstructing their taunting dialogue.

A quick flash of atomic hope precedes a wary, skin-pulsing calm.

My eyes widen like a petulant child who hears the creak of approaching chastisement,

sensing prickling ambush.

The rapid ruminations invade, burrowing further into impossible, implausible spaces.  Under siege, so

I unleash three quick, sharp blows of my palm against my temple.




It was my first panic attack of many.

Slumber party invitations terrified me, fearing my fun would turn into an embarrassing public attack. Luckily, my parents valued doctors for physical and mental health. My therapist encouraged me to cling to my main coping mechanism—distraction.

My bedroom floor was covered in dog-eared copies of all things Ann M. Martin, sneakily “borrowed” Harry Potter books from my sister’s shelf, highlighted Bible verses, Word Up! magazine posters of B2K and Bow Wow, circled outfit ideas from Delias catalogues, and half started journals,  beginning “my first novel” a million times over, feeding this insatiable hunger to write.

It’s been a journey, knowing that I can’t control the thoughts the cross my mind, but my peace comes, the calm after the attack comes from knowing that my presence is necessary, my voice is needed.

At 17, I found myself standing on the edge of a Metro train platform ready to jump. Again my mind was going everywhere and I was upset at my inability to control myself or my impulses. I knew it was a bad decision, but the momentum was propelling me forward and I began shutting out everything that would make me stop. I don’t like to talk about the supernatural; it feels silly. But I felt—something—push me back. I wish I could articulate what that force felt like, but I know what it told me as I stumbled backward to grip the railing (as I did each time I took the train from that point on until I could trust my impulses), fingertips turning white. It told me I’m not done.

Sometimes ideations return:

they creep


& wait in mental crooks

at unreachable angles, set

to pounce.

But that force, that Spirit from that day still whispers to me, “Jessica, you’re not done.”




Jessica Edwards is a D.C. native and a Houston resident.  She is a former middle school teacher and currently works in a nonprofit youth serving organization. Her passion for justice, particularly for black women, fuels her writing. Her collection of poetry “lyrical.catharsis.” is available for purchase from her website: jessicaedwardswrites.com