Man with baseball cap working on laptop

Being a business owner has been one of the most rewarding and exciting events of my life. Going far beyond my own expectations on what would happen with Nufás Media, as we jumped over every hurdle and continued to land (shakily) on our feet, we have really begun to find our stride and things seem to be going smoother than ever. But my body and my brain had news for me. Things aren’t going as smooth as you think, and dude…we are stressed out.

With the move to a new office space and some very talented staff members leading the charge on client accounts, I found that my leadership was still needed, but maybe not quite as heavy handed. Sean often tells me to loosen up and trust in their abilities a bit more. But the thing is, I do trust them to do a good job and I’m so thankful for that luxury, as not all employers can say that about their staff. However, in the last few weeks I have been experiencing something that I can’t say I have encountered in my life before this.

I have always been lucky enough to not have suffered from any mental illness, or really any physical illness besides some nasty bouts with the flu when I was a little kid. For my entire adult life, you could easily classify me as ‘fit as a fiddle’ and I suppose I just always thought that would be the case!

But in the last few weeks, I have experienced a shift in my mental health that is very alien to me. I have been plagued with debilitating panic attacks for the last 3 weeks and the worst part is, I can’t seem to trace back exactly why this is happening.

It’s hard to explain, but it is kind of like that shot of cortisol you get when you wake up and realize your alarm didn’t go off and now, you’re late! Except that feeling lasts for hours and it just builds and builds. Some days I am on the brink of freaking out every minute of the day and just busy myself to distract my mind while trying to still keep the stimulation down as much as possible. Usually I’m able to keep it at bay despite it being mentally exhausting, but 2 weeks ago it all came to a head and it took me over. After a pretty chill Sunday, staying home, relaxing with my partner, I felt myself getting short of breath while just watching tv. I shifted in my seat and tried to slow my breathing with no real luck. My partner noticed my fidgeting and asked if I was alright because she knew I had been dealing with these feelings in the days prior. I told her I was starting to feel weird, and that seemed to send me spinning. I laid on my back and tried calming myself down with some breathing exercises but a really intense sensation of fear and anxiety just kept building to the point where I was breathing really heavily, and I couldn’t even see because the fear was so intense. My pupils were fully dilated, my hands started to get pins and needles and then clenched shut – hard – so hard that my fingers were purple and my nails were starting to dig in to my hands. After about 15 minutes, my brain started to calm down and I was able to sit up so my partner could feed me water through a straw, as my hands were still out of commission. Slowly they started to loosen up and I was finally able to open them. The fear left and I began to start feeling a bit better. In the heat of it, I was sure I was going to die and I wanted an ambulance to come, this was the weirdest feeling I have ever experienced and it was absolutely terrifying. Since that time, it hasn’t been near as bad, however I think I have got better at keeping it at bay. But the question still remains – why is this happening to me all of a sudden?

I have to think it is stress that isn’t being properly dealt with in relation to the business. While I feel as though things are going smoother overall, I think I am having difficulty with handing over the reins for some projects that I have dealt with for so long on my own. The only problem is, the projects are bigger, higher stakes, and more sensitive to deadlines and mistakes. My partner has told me that maybe I need to take some time off, but I also feel like being totally removed from the business may just exacerbate the issue, as I would be in the dark about what was happening, and that seems more like the core issue and something that I need to avoid.

So, in order to figure this out I have started reaching out to other business owners to see how they deal with their stresses, and handle the weight of responsibilities that come with owning a business, especially in fledgling stages as Nufás still is, and will still be for the next few years. This is partially why I am writing this blog, partly for a form of therapy for myself, and partially so I can reach out to the brain of the internet to get some advice on how others release their stress. So, I’m asking everyone – give me your weirdest procedures, your life hacks that you have found along your journey and please – help a brother out here because I am at the end of my rope. I am upset with my body and my brain for letting me down, but I need to also mend that relationship so that it is not a hostile one. This needs to be a journey of tender loving care from myself, to myself, for myself so that rather than getting angry for feeling like this, I can change the narrative to be a more gentle inner voice that can heal rather than harm.