Panic in a Crowded Room

Take a deep breath.

Inhale through your nose, 1 2 3 4 seconds, lungs filling with air, fit to burst

Hold it, waiting for the drop, then breath out, air whistling through your lips,

But silently, careful not to draw eyes.

Let out the carbon dioxide, feed the trees, not your panic.

You feel wrong, this feels wrong.

Don’t touch me DON’T TOUCH ME your skin shouts

But you breath in 2 3 4

Ribcage expanding, concentrating on the sound of wind rushing into your body

Like you’re a dark cave and your fears and anxieties are the bats hiding inside.

Hold, anticipating, and blow out, bats flying in swarms from your throat.

You’re okay, this is okay, you tell yourself,

But your hands tingle and burn, holding back an inferno

With bare sweating palms, just waiting to consume you.

Flames lap at your wrists and up your arms, making your heart beat in time to its pulsing embers.

How can you hold back a wildfire alone?

Breathe in deeply, counting 1 2 3 4

Smoking filling your lungs

Then out, ash in its wake

In   out    in     out    in            out

Rather, rinse, repeat until satisfied and the shakes and stutters and roiling have calmed

Like the sea after an unexpected hurricane.

The walls move out again, taking with them the claustrophobia

And breathing becomes more easy, more natural, less desperate and gasping.

Take a deep breath.

Inhale and exhale as you see fit.

Put out the last remaining embers and just be for a moment.

You’re alright, you’re okay, you tell yourself.

And this time

You believe it. 

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