Writhing to stop

Breathe in, breathe out. Forcing myself to regulate my air, I put pressure on all of the muscles in my diaphragm, forcing it to contract. I cry out in pain because of the lack of oxygen. Once more, I force myself to breathe properly.

I sit in the crowd, letting the words of my homeroom teacher enter one ear and drop out the other. My anxiety starts to bother me, poking me from the side, making me feel uncomfortable. Trying not to think too much, I whisper to my anxiety: “It is okay, these are my classmates. No big deal. Just stay calm and listen to the teacher.” But as always, my anxiety, being a little more childish than me, does what it wants to do. It doesn’t listen to me.

Not being able to bear it anymore, I simultaneously shoot up as soon as they concluded the homeroom. “Why so aggressive? Ha ha ha” my friend and I always joke about me hating homerooms and assemblies. But as a matter of fact, I do not hate those boring lectures, surprisingly. Instead, what I hate is a closed room with a lot of loud people.

Whenever I say this, my friend responds lightheartedly: “Oh, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about! I HATE people too.”

Sometimes, people can get certain things wrong because they think they know “exactly” what the other person is trying to say. This time too, was no exception. Whenever I am laid in these kinds of situations, I always wish I can say:

No, you do not know what I mean when I say I hate loud places with a lot of people. You do not know how anxiety annoys me when I am part of a crowd. You also do not know how fast my heart beats, how short my breaths get, and how painful my headache can be.

But most of all, you do not know what “slowly dying” feels like whenever you have a panic attack.

There was a time, when I was young, I had to present a personal story in front of a whole class.

Firstly, I was scared to present my story. Secondly, I was scared to present. Lastly, I was just scared — of people.

Staring at the “stay calm and read” poster, I try to follow the instructions, but being a rebel, I refuse to. Again, my anxiety, called claustrophobia, starts to trouble my lungs and my stomach; then, it makes its way to my head. Banging the cymbal from both sides of my temple, anxiety completely crushes my head, getting things out of my hands.

Heartbeat picking up, breaths shortening, hands vigorously shaking, throat choking, I run to an empty room.

Just like an unexpected surprise party which you cannot shut down, anxiety dances around my body like a dance floor making sure to not leave a single spot.

It is fine, it is fine, it is fine. You will be okay, you will be okay, you will be okay. Everything is going to be fine, it is fine. You are safe. You are safe …

As my mind goes as white as an A4 sheet, I try to write some words so that I would not get lost in my thoughts. Repeating the same words, it is fine, again and again, I put my hands on the blank space with a pencil, hoping that I would write something sensible to calm me down.

Scream! Just scream so that someone might help you! I think, and I say this to myself in the hush.

As my hand twitches and jerks, the pencil line scribbles like a seismograph; when my hands finally soothes, the first couple words my fingers draw are: why are you still alive?

Suddenly frightened of an unexpected outcome, I wrangle with my arm to stop the writing. But my hand goes on, filling the blank space with those dark graphite words. I find myself dumbfounded, reading all the phrases which I never thought would be said to me, by me.

Every stroke and every period of each sentence drills into my mind and my chest, disturbing my breathing regulations, killing me slowly with alphabets. Crying and asking my hand to stop, I squeeze my other hand on top of my forearm. Penetrating all five fingernails into my skin, I am no longer bothered with anything — not even with those red crescent marks.

Breathe in, breathe out. Forcing myself to regulate my air, I put pressure on all of my muscles. I cry out in pain because of the lack of oxygen.

Once more, I force myself to stop, in hopes that I will.

Edited by Dhrubhagat Singh

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