You look too put together.

Someone made a remark to me a while ago: You look too put together to have a panic disorder. I get a panic attack and I look like a mess.

I’d shifted around guiltily and said that my social media feed doesn’t feature how I look when it hits because I cannot possibly take a photo of when I have a attack. I don’t have a camera on me when I start trembling and need to hide under a table to calm it down.

So recently I had a massive full-blown panic attack, and I took a picture afterwards.

This time it was the full shebang. It was painful and exhausting. My senses blurred. My hands tingled. My heart raced and chest literally hurt. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack and was going to die. I was light-headed and nauseous. A band felt like it was tightening at once around my head. It came in waves. I felt like I was drowning and I’d never come up for air.

I had to keep telling myself, “You’re ok. You’re not dying.”

It was at the end of my last class of the day. I went back to my desk and crawled under. I tucked my knees in and focused on breathing.

It would pass a little. And then it returns. Over and over again. My doctor says a cycle lasts for at most 10 minutes. Many cycles.

I had every intention to be productive today. I got angry because I had so much work to do. It wasn’t helping the attack that I was angry. I wasn’t calming down.
And then it repeats itself. Over and over again.

It eased a little. I could get back onto my chair and not have the sunlight hurt. I stared at the piles of papers that need to be graded. I rubbed my face and made dzikr, hoping to God that I’ll pull through. Then I took this photo.

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I’m left physically exhausted like I’ve just run a marathon. I don’t have any make-up on and my dark circles are terrible. All I want to do is collapse on my bed and hide under it passes. They always pass. Eventually. It isn’t forever.

I’m writing this after heading back home and indeed collapsing on my bed & forcing myself to sleep. I’m up again and it’s still coming in waves, though more gently now, and I remind myself that IT WILL PASS.

So I don’t know about looking “too put together” but I do know this: please do not compare your struggles to what you see of others on their online feeds. Most of our online personas have trouble telling the truth. We mostly don’t post what we perceive isn’t cool or doesn’t make us looo good. We look on social media and think, “Man, their lives looks so amazing.” Don’t be fooled by what we see on social media.

If you’re struggling now and feel alone, I hope you know that you’re allowed to be both a masterpiece & work-in-progress at the same time. It may be dark now but the sun will rise again. It may seem pretty lonely but know that you’re not alone. Look out for the helpers. There are always helpers.

On that note, I’ll be having an intimate gathering for ladies with mental health issues on 2 October. Drop a note here if you’d like to receive more information on that. ❤️🙆🏽

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