You Never Know What Someone’s Going Through

I had a panic attack in yoga on Friday night. Like, serious — tears streaming (I played it off as sweat), legs shaking — panic attack.

It was in a class I love, with one of the best instructors I ever worked with. And yet, of nowhere…


It happened as the class worked on handstands, a move that has always been a source of fear for me. We were in a safe space, with assistance, and nobody was judging. But the fear came fast and hard and despite every mental trick I know, I could not get my feet even an inch off the ground. I just stayed in downward dog, fighting an emotional battle.

Now, I’ve learned one thing from yoga, and that’s that the emotions I feel on the mat are rarely the same as I feel outside of class. Something about that practice pulls things to the surface that I didn’t even know were bubbling underneath.

The handstand was not the problem. The fear was. And it was the fear and uncertainty that led to the emotional release.

In this case, the breakdown was a good reminder for me that everyone I meet is dealing with something difficult, whether with a relationship, with work or with health. Some of those things are just normal, daily struggles and others are deeper and more painful.

This blog is a therapist’s couch of sorts for me, so I’m not afraid to share with you, my beloved readers, that I am fearful of things. Big and small, they scare me, and often excite me at the same time. I’m afraid that I will do things and I’m afraid that I won’t. I’m afraid that the path I’ve envisioned for myself will not be an easy road. I’m afraid that the goals I have aren’t attainable, or will take longer to achieve than I’d like.

But I think recognizing that I am vulnerable makes me a more accepting, understanding and forgiving person. I’m not alone in what I’m struggling with, and in asking for help (which I’ve done), I realize that people often suffer silently. That means that chances are, one of you is working through some stress. Chances are, someone in my family is quietly dealing with drama, too. Chances are, some of my closest friends are having a difficult time.

So, I ask that in this season of giving…give your kindness and your patience. You never know what someone is going through.

P.S. After writing this in stream of consciousness, I re-read and realized how emo it sounds! I promise, I’m fine. Just some stuff that I’m working through, and I promise…that working is, well, working. I live an extremely blessed, lucky life, and this is just a small speed bump.

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  1. says

    The strange thing about this post is that I suffered a panic attack (my very first one ever) last night at about 2:00 am. I haven’t blogged in over a week due to a lot of outside interference and a lot of inner turmoil that I am going through over several big time decisions coming up. Not something I would have ever mentioned to anyone– but it’s amazing how being intimate with people forces them to be the same. Thank you for your candor, I actually didn’t sleep due to feeling isolated and feeling alone. Something about this time of year “brings things to the surface”As you said. I didn’t think this post sounded EMO, I just thought you sounded human. Some days (or in my case months) are rougher than others. Very glad and thankful for you and very happy you felt like sharing.

    • says

      Calvin — oh no! That sounds so scary, and I’m really sorry you’re going through it. :( I’m glad that you felt safe enough to share the story here, and it REALLY helped me to not feel alone. So thank you right back!

      I hope you sleep soundly tonight.

  2. says

    It is true that showing your vulnerable side to people can do miracles – suddenly people open up, they share and we all become closer. I spent a lot of time in the past pretending that everything was fine and that my life was perfect. Ever since I’ve started talking about my struggles I feel much closer to people. Perfection (and especially when it is fake) can be very isolating.

    • says

      Um, first — tomatoes DO rock. Can you help me convince my husband?

      Thanks so much for your words…my favorite: “perfection…can be very isolating.”

  3. says

    mmmmm I hear you

    I wrote a similar post to this, and I think I pulled out the Plato quote too after I had an absolute breakdown at the Admissions office at school. I had had it up to “here” with their rules, and policy changes and I just started crying uncontrollably. The worst part was that the advisor was so mean, and cold and said to me “these things happen, it’s not that big of a deal, can you just calm down”

    to which I replied “how dare you, that is unfair of you to say, I left my career to come back to school, this decision has come at great financial sacrifice for my family, it IS a big deal for me”

    After the whole experience I realized that I had been less than considerate about what was going on beneath the surface with people. It’s hard to remember that it’s not “all about me” all the time.

    • says

      It’s so crazy to think that we really do learn from our absolute worst moments…it’s not something I look forward to, but in hindsight, some of my best work comes from those lows.

      And, BTW, it was a big deal. I’m glad you said something.

  4. says

    I share your same fear of handstand and have also cried (many times) during a yoga class, for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is the frustration I get when my mind gets in the way of something I believe my body can do (kicking up into headstand for example).

    I’m happy to know you were able to open up and show that vulnerability. It is NOT easy to do, but know you are never alone in feeling this way. There are plenty of us stuck in the fear, stuck in the unknown. I truly believe posts like this give us a chance to dig out together.

    Stay strong lady.

  5. says

    I just saw that Plato quote the other day and it spoke to me like nothing before had. It is true!

    As for you I hope that what you’re working through comes to a quick and painless resolve!

    But I’ll leave you with another of my favorite quotes – the only way around is through

  6. says

    It’s so true. We never know what people are going through, and it’s not fair of us to judge.

    I’m always amazed by what a yoga practice can bring up. Sometimes it’s just the right pose or the words from a teacher that brings me to tears, in a good way. Or I’ll feel so full of joy that I’ll wonder why I don’t do yoga more often.

    I hope all is well Katy.

  7. says

    Struggling is hard but acknowledging it no matter how emo you feel about it is real. Emo isn’t a bad thing…it’s being emotional about life…and I hate the “adult” part of us that says we have to have it all together and apologize for when it’s hard. It’s okay and I’m glad you felt you were able to share that with your readers.

  8. says

    I feel the same, Katie. I’ve realized lately how therapuetic my blog is for me. It’s helped me become better because I’ve been able to express things openly. That is one of the quotes I live by, truly. Thanks for sharing.

  9. says

    I had a breakdown in yoga a few weeks ago too. What is it about yoga that does that? Thank goodness for sweat to disguise us!

    I agree with some of the commentors above – there is something about this time of the year that brings emotions to the surface. Just reading your post made me teary-eyed because there is so much truth to it. A little kindness goes a long way.

  10. says

    I absolutely love everything about this post! I feel like sometimes having a breakdown in a moment like that can be the best thing for us, because when you finally become vulnerable, you see everything that has been pushed down for whatever reason. Also, the concept of treating others with grace and kindness is something I have been thinking a lot about. I find that I am so quick to judge others when they are “rude” or say something I don’t like or are even arguably unkind to me, but the thing I have realized lately, is that almost no one out there comes from malicious intent and everyone is doing the best they can. Perhaps if we went into every encounter with that little bit of insight, we’d be able to help each other rather than judge. I would love to be able to ask someone what I can do to help even if I feel they have treated me rudely, rather than take it personally and make a judgement on them. Thank you for this post–it really hit something for me :)

    • says

      There’s so much power in that word…”grace.” And I’m so glad you stopped by to share your thoughts!

      I have a very quick tongue, and sometimes I do forget to think before I speak. So having these humble moments is really good for me (even when it’s painful!).

  11. says

    We learned about the chakras in yoga teacher training and how yoga can help release blocks in the energy that runs through the body (much like acupuncture). People in my program shared stories of having a cathartic moment in a yoga class where everyone was sobbing due to all the hip opening. I’m totally jealous of what you experienced! That’s never happened to me before in yoga, only on the acupuncture table. Consider it good for you : )

  12. Liz says

    Your quote reminds me of one I was thinking about a lot this weekend — “Be kind whenever possible, it is always possible.” — Dalai Lama.

  13. says

    Wow, this really hit home with me. It is so easy to let frustrations with others build up. Remembering that they are going through tough times too helps remind me to be patient.

  14. Ellie says

    I am not a stranger to panic attacks myself. It’s a lifelong struggle for me.
    My interpretation of Plato’s quote is:’don’t feel sorry for yourself, there are many others who have it far worse than you’. These are words I try to live by.

  15. says

    I get get get this Katy.
    From the release in yoga to the quote.
    I find on days when I feel Im so alone in my struggling it gives me comfort to at least realize we all have our battles.
    Not in the misery loves company way—-as it does NOT but in the sense of we’re all fighting to make this LIFETHING the best we can.

  16. says

    Can I just tell you you’re amazing? Even though I silently stalk your blog and have learned TONS and TONS from you about blogging and I sooo appreciate all the knowledge you share with us, this has to be one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written. Ever.

    Perfect reminder at the perfect time. Thank you!

    And I’m sending good thoughts your way for whatever it is that isn’t so easy right now in your life!

  17. Sophia says

    Yes, I agree with you. At the most of the time, we have to struggle hard for some hard things alone, we could not rely on anybody just fight with it by ourselves. When we stay in this time, one simple Hello from anybody would make us feel more better and courage to pass through the hard time. So please be kind to others!

  18. says

    Hey There. I discovered your blog the usage of msn. This is a really well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I’ll certainly comeback.

  19. says

    I hope to always remember those wise words. I try not to quickly react to anything, really – and I am thankful to have always had an open mind to see/realize there are other views, and other things going on completely independent of me and my things.

    thanks for this reminder – I send you calming energy and hugs.


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