Just. Just calm down. Just breathe. Just get some perspective. It’s meant to make it sound easier; it only ever makes me feel Thumbelina-sized. Nothing implies your incompetency more than being reminded of having to breathe.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had a panic attack. It’s not just nerves fizzling in the bottom of your tummy. It’s the feeling of being about to vomit every one of your organs. Everything takes on all the cosmic significance in the world and it’s absolutely 100% certain that even though you are only feeling panicked because someone wrapped your asparagus with parma ham and you had wanted it just with the boiled egg, you are definitely about to spontaneously combust. And not only are you about to spontaneously combust, but the Daily Mail is going to run the headline “13 year old girl spontaneously combusts” because they’re going to identify you on the basis of the label on your clothes. And then your mum is going to have to launch an attack about their shoddy journalism, but the whole world is going to mock me, and it would be just my luck to die in the most socially awkward fashion imaginable. I mean who spontaneously combusts in this day and age. And I haven’t even left a will. And I wish I could just be okay with eating parma ham right now, because there is absolutely no way I can explain this rationally to the poor waitress who looks positively grief-stricken. And it’s not her fault, it’s mine. But it’s all going to stop hurting once I’ve spontaneously combusted. AND WILL EVERYONE STOP TELLING ME TO JUST BREATHE.
And that’s a panic attack.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Praise God, I haven’t known that kind of mentos-plus-diet-coke sort of ferocity filling me up for a while now. But I still hold in my mind before I go to sleep the little fantasy I have of Heaven in which I crawl up at the feet of my Lord and He will tell me it’s okay, it always has been; I can just rest here for a little while, and He will continue to watch over me, like He always has done. And He won’t have tell me how to breathe. I just will.