How can I describe shock in first person?

To give you a little of the context. I would appreciate any help.

"I heard a sound like a bird flapping its wings in a panic. Maybe it was my heart, for all I know. Have you ever seen a wild bird in a cage, looking for a way out? Well that was how my mind was reacting. I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom. I was lightheaded, and my skin was cold and sweaty. Sobbing uncontrollably and hugging my knees, rocking back and forth. I cried out, “God, why? Why don’t you love me?”

  • Are you talking about shock as in 'a bit of a nasty surprise' or medical shock as in 'critical condition that is brought on by a sudden drop in blood flow through the body'.
    – Spagirl
    Jan 13 '20 at 11:07
  • I was about to ask the same thing. Also don't forget psychological shock also known as Acute Stress Disorder, which results in either triggering a "Fight or Flight" response or feinting or nausea while otherwise perfectly physically healthy.
    – hszmv
    Jan 13 '20 at 19:11
  • @hszmv I didn't know that the adrenaline Fight/flight response was regarded as a type of shock, you learn something new every day. Speeeaking of which.... 'feinting' means pretending to make a pass or attack, which might just be applicable to fight of flight, but did you mean 'fainting'?
    – Spagirl
    Jan 14 '20 at 16:18
  • @Spagirl: Sorry Fainting. And yeah, Psychological shock is a fairly common response to trauma and in fact, basic first aid courses will prep you with some ways to treat for it (typically keeping the victim from looking at the injury, especially if it's traumatic but the vic is still lucid. One of the sillier ones I had in Life Guard specific training was a kid going into shock from a nasty looking, but not serious, cut was "throw a paper bag over the kids head and when he protests, tell him the injury isn't bad, but he is one ugly kid.")+
    – hszmv
    Jan 14 '20 at 16:54
  • @Spagirl: +The idea is to avoid shock from the sight of the injury complicating the first aid (either by having the vic go into a wild panic or faint and go unconcious) so a bruised ego is generally the preferable of the three options. The main goal is to get the vic's head invested in something other than the injury. If the kid's gonna defend his honor after being called ugly, that does the trick just find. It helps that lifeguards typically have a group of "regulars" who they know and can gage how they would respond. It's only a horrible thing to do if it doesn't work.
    – hszmv
    Jan 14 '20 at 16:59

I think you did a great job. Comparing a heart to a bird flapping in a cage gets your point across, followed by some accurate-seeming description. I don't see an issue with it (but I'm not too experienced).

You used a simile (the bird flapping) to describe the feeling. One idea could be to form it into a metaphor. That is less literal and brings the reader into the mind of the character more, and figurative language can oftentimes show emotion better. Maybe "A panicked, caged bird was flapping inside of me. I heard the thumping. Maybe it was my heart, for all I know."

When you ask the reader if they've ever seen a wild bird in a cage, that makes it seem more like a conversation, like the character is casually looking back on their past experience. Like your story is a building that you're looking at from a hot air balloon. If that's the goal then you nailed it. "You" is 2nd person. But if you want it to be super urgent and in-the-moment, like you're inside the building or right on top of it, pausing to ask the audience a question might pull someone out of the moment. If I'm not making sense, I'm sorry for being confusing. Overall it's good. Keep the bird.

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