Courtney Barnett’s “Avant Gardener”

Sometimes I get wound up so tightly that I forget to breathe properly.

I’ve had recurring bouts of anxiety since 2007, when I had my first panic attack. That first attack, I didn’t know what it was. It scared the shit outta me. (No, I didn’t soil my pants if that’s what you were thinking. Thankfully, loss of bowel control is not among the physical disturbances of a panic attack. I suppose the racing heart, tight chest and dizziness accompanied by an acute sense of impending doom are enough to deal with. Come to think of it, it’s quite remarkable that people don’t shit themselves during a panic attack. Can you imagine? “Well this is embarrassing. I thought I was dying there for a moment – but it was just a panic attack! May I borrow a pair of pants?”)

When I’m anxious, I breathe very shallowly. Sometimes I even catch myself holding my breath altogether. I have to consciously make an effort to breathe in and breathe out.

A few months ago I came across Courtney Barnett on YouTube. She rocks, plain and simple. Interesting voice, great guitar style and all-around cool energy. Plus, she’s got a real knack for storytelling and a unique sound that is somehow current and retro at the same time.

“Avant Gardener” happens to be about an anaphylactic panic attack. It’s a wicked tune, and I love how non-contrived the lyrics are. “I’m not that good at breathing in.” You and me both, sister.

(P.S. Her shirt in this video reminds me of one my grandma used to wear in the late ’80s. I like that.)