Close your eyes, and open your imagination.
You’re in a box. A large enough box to fit you, but not large enough for you to move about, but you’re comfortable. At first, the box is room temperature but it gets warm, toasty warm, fairly quickly. 45 seconds pass and it is now so hot that your breathing has become restricted. Not the kind of restricted that can be worked through with deep breathing, but the kind of restricted where you gasp for air and just cannot inhale in enough of that good old oxygen. The tingles start. The tingles you feel from sitting on your legs for too long, but they’re all over. Slowly but surely they intensify and become painful. You’re sweating, your vision is blurry, and then you begin to think you’re having a stroke, or that maybe you’re dying and you are stuck in this state for roughly 5 more minutes. Gasping for air and confined to your hot and relentless box until suddenly… you can breathe again and you are released from the tight space.
Open your eyes.
That was me Tuesday morning. I was escorted off the D train, and was encouraged to breathe by a complete stranger after going into one of the worst panic attacks I’ve experienced to date. It’s been a few months since I’ve had one, and this one caught me off guard. Not to mention, it happened in public, because God clearly was trying to keep me on my toes. Or he was being petty, still haven’t quite decided the reasoning yet. But a panic attack happened, and nevertheless, the aftermath was the usual routine.
Tightness in my chest from the lack of breathing followed by the forced deep breaths. Anger towards myself for not catching it before it exploded and for allowing it to consume me whole and relentlessly. And then the embarrassment which is more than becoming the crying, grown, woman-baby on the train again. It’s the fact that I can easily come undone as a result of someone else’s actions, or from simple triggers, such as a packed train car. It’s the fact that I just congratulated myself for being medication and anxiety hell free publicly, only to secretly wish I still had a prescription after Tuesday’s episode. And it’s definitely the fact that I run an organization promoting radical self-love and a healthy mental state, all the while sometimes my mental state is completely shitty.
Actually that might be all the embarrassment is centered on. Not feeling fit enough to be the CEO of a much needed organization.
I think it comes as no surprise that I’m a keep up appearance type of girl. Yes, as a blogger, I’m pretty fucking private. I believe in the mantra of never letting them see you when you’re down because I’m Nigerian, and we’re prideful, and because that’s how Daddy raised his first-born. But being silent about these things doesn’t #stopthestigma surrounding mental health. Being silent traps me in guilt, and shame, and suffering. “Faking it till I make it” breaks the “me too” effect, something I will address tomorrow in the Extra Dose newsletter. And after discovering #theimperfectboss hashtag this past week, I realized that expressing our vulnerable moments reminds ourselves and others that we are human and perfectly flawed. So I want to invite you all to honest about your struggles, and not simply for the sake of venting, but to remind yourself that with everything you battle, you are so enough as is.
My #TheImperfectBoss entry from earlier this week:
The name is Yetti and I run a startup organization centered on self-care and mental health awareness. I also suffer from severe ass anxiety, and have for most of my life. While others would say this makes me unqualified to educate others on the concepts of self-compassion and seeking help, I think it’s what makes the organization real. Relatable. It’s CEO (whoa… big title) knows exactly what this all feels like.