I stopped breathing.
One ordinary day, in an ordinary place, while going about my ordinary tasks, I stopped breathing.
My mind went blank and my body became heavy.
I stopped breathing, except I didn't die. And no one around me noticed that I had stopped breathing. My heart was beating. I had a pulse. I was walking, I was talking but I was suffocating.
It only took a single moment for me to stop breathing and for the next few weeks, I wouldn't take another breath.
Anxiety - that's what they call it. And to make them feel less awkward, I call it anxiety too.
But to me it's much worse than that. To me it's war - against no one but myself. And although I'm on my own side, I can never win.
This is my world. And in it, I often stop breathing.
Although I'm assured and reassured that it can't harm me, I know better that than. Because it has harmed me before. And I know it can harm me again.
It is the deciding factor for most things in my life. In fact, it is law. And you don't break the law. Because when you do, you suffer the humiliating consequences.
At night, when others are sleeping I wake. With a pounding heart and clammy hands I gasp out loud, desperate for a single breath - for calm. For rest. But there is none.
So I go back to sleep fully aware that I will wake again, choking on nothing but the air around me.
And as it has happened so many times before in my life, on an ordinary day, in an ordinary place, while going about my ordinary tasks, I stopped breathing. And for the next few weeks, I wouldn't take another breath.
But just before I would completely suffocate, before the darkness could swallow me whole, somewhere among all the silent noise a patient voice came through and said, 'Zahra, I heard you...'
And so I took a breath.