Title: Let me show you
Word Count: 1201
Summary: Help comes from an unexpected source
Notes: Probably not the kind of anxiety you had hoped for. I think, it is an important topic and nobody really wants to talk about it as it still has some kind of stigma to it. But it’s important. At least to me. That’s why I’m not even sorry to go over the word limit. And once again, it’s not beta’d.
Merlin closed his eyes. Oh no, not again! He felt the familiar and so hated sensation creeping up from the back of his neck and his heartbeat was speeding up already.
How he hated those panic attacks!
It felt as if the room was closing in on him, so he opened the window but he still had difficulties to breathe. His legs gave way as he felt dizzy and weak and he sunk down to sit underneath the window.
If only he knew where this irrational fear came from? What caused him to freak out like that in the weirdest moments? It might have been easier if it had been a phobia. Then he would know what caused this, and either avoid those situations or actively work on getting over it.
Panic attacks, though, seemingly came out of nowhere. Without a warning, he felt like he had run a marathon and his heart would explode. He was sweating and freezing at the same time and the world closed in on him, the walls came closer, he couldn’t breathe. It struck without a warning each and every time for no apparent reason.
It didn’t matter if he was working on a project that seemed a bit too big for a single person or if he was out with friends having fun. The attacks didn’t care if he was rushing through the streets to make it to an appointment on time or if he was in bed, sleeping. They jumped at him when he least expected them and left him totally drained once they subsided, which could be after a few minutes or after an hour.
When the first one hit him out of nowhere, Merlin had thought he would die. Maybe there was an issue with his heart or a malfunction of his lungs or something. Merlin had been sure that this was it and that he wouldn’t get out of it alive.
Later, he had been to every possible specialist to find out what was wrong with his body. Only to find that he was physically as fit as he could be.
He had tried reading books about it, articles in magazines, searched the internet for an answer. He’d been to a self-help group in his area, but all those anxious people in one place talking about how bad they felt hadn’t helped at all. They were just endlessly going on and on about their last attack instead of giving him something to work with to get out of the attack when it happened.
Merlin had even tried to find a shrink. If this was a mental think, a shrink would fix him, right? A whole day he had been on the phone to find someone who was even willing to see him within four weeks. Some told him to make appointments for July. Next year.
Sometimes, Merlin wished he had just broken a bone. You were rushed to the hospital, they fixed it, put a cast on you and it healed. In severe cases, you had to do a bit of physio treatment and that was it. Done. Obviously there were not enough people to know how to heal broken souls. How else could it be explained that you had to wait a year before someone had half an hour to spare to talk to you if you didn’t threaten to jump off the balcony in the next five minutes?
The two people he had talked to totally sucked. One wasn’t even willing to listen and kept on talking endlessly as if just looking at him and pouring tons of unhelpful advice over him would make him go up and walk out of the office without another panic attack ever. The other one tried to sell him a seat in a class in how to deal with the attacks. Wasn’t he already buying the expensive time of the shrink to teach him exactly that? Merlin walked out and never looked back.
He was alone with this. All alone. The only person on the planet to go through this. Nobody could help him. In the end, he would die from it since it couldn’t be good that his heart was forced to pump like this at least every other day or something.
Merlin’s mind knew that this wasn’t the case. There were lots of people who went through this on a regular basis. That didn’t mean he was feeling better about it, though. He had started cancelling on his friends, avoided places with weird lighting and every other situation that he had had an attack in. Some days he could hardly bring himself to go to work and stood at his door, trying to reach for the handle and just couldn’t.
Since he had a few attacks in his sleep, he avoided his bed and made camp on the couch. At least, he could watch TV there, which made it slightly better when an attack hit. His living room was a bit bigger than his bedroom, too, which meant there was more air for him to breathe, right?
That it was happening here, in his little office, yet again, was totally embarrassing. Merlin heard people walking by. He knew he just needed to call out to them, but he couldn’t. Hopefully, nobody walked in and saw him like that.
Just as the thought ran through his mind and he leaned his head back against the wall, the door opened.
Oh no! Not him! Of all people! Not Arthur!
The prince rounded his desk and was at his side in no time. “Gosh, Merlin! Another one?”
He had tried to keep his condition a secret, but working so close to the prince of the kingdom made it difficult to hide it. Merlin nodded weakly.
He appreciated that Arthur didn’t call for an ambulance or made much fuss. He just sat down on the floor next to him.
“Err...Maybe I shouldn't reveal this, but you know me inside out anyways.” Arthur threw him a smile. “But…there was one thing that helped me out of my panic attacks. It didn’t make them go away, but it helped me to shorten the individual attacks and to focus on something other than the panic, to get out of them a lot easier…”
Merlin looked at him.
“What? Do you think just because I’m the heir to the throne, I’m not a normal person?”
“Well…” Merlin tried to grin. The ‘normal’ was debatable when it came to Arthur.
“Hey! It’s not like I can go to a school and they teach me how to be king one day. I can hardly call all the kings around the world and say ‘could you show me how you’re doing your job?’. Before you came here, I had a really hard time coming to terms with that.”
Merlin had never seen the prince so open and tell him something so personal.
“Here.” Arthur produces and old MP3 player that clearly had seen better times. He untangled the earphones and held one out to Merlin, before putting the other one in his ear. “I can’t promise it will work for you, but it did for me. Let me show you.”