I’m sitting in a cafe, surrounded by noise. It feels overwhelming, all encompassing, but there’s no point leaving. Today, everywhere feels that way. Even the tapping of keyboards is too loud, too inescapable. I feel too hot, my heart beating so hard in my chest it almost aches. I have to concentrate to breathe. Even in my corner, carefully selected to be in the quietest possible part of the cafe, every sound is too loud – from the background music to the people talking on the table next to me. On some days, it’s fine. On those day all the noise and the chatter is faded, background noise, and I can disappear into my own thoughts.
But on days like today, the discomfort just increases. My clothes feel uncomfortable, my bra so tight it seems to constrict me more with every passing second. I become painfully aware of everything, and even something so small as my own hair brushing against my face is enough to make me jump. All I want to do is go somewhere quiet, somewhere I can hide from the world and feel safe, just for a little while. But I can’t. I must return to work, to face oppressive fluorescent lights and inescapable surrounding noise. All the while reminding myself “just a few more hours”. I will survive.