How'd I do? Did I fake it good enough?

One of the biggest things we often hear from people when it comes to mental illness is that it isn't a "visible" disease. You have no crutches, you don't lose your hair, and there are no stitches to heal. For this reason, it's easy for a lot of people to brush it off and say, "Just get over it."

Look at this picture. Now, look at it again. Would you know that, at that exact moment in time, my heart was beating out of my chest, I was short of breath and willing to trade every physical possession that I own to feel "normal"? Probably not.

This was taken by AJ at Burgers & Brews on Friday evening, immediately after I told her that I needed to leave because I was having a massive panic attack. I, unfortunately, do not travel with my anti-anxiety medication these days. Needless to say, lesson learned.

I pretty much knew from the second I stepped foot in Buckham Alley, that things were going to go badly for my mental state. When anxiety strikes me, I usually have a plan that begins with breathing exercises, then moves on to a THC vape pen, and in the worst case scenario, a benzodiazepine (better known as Xanax).

And this is the plan for when I'm in the confines of my own home. Unfortunately, you don't always get to choose when/where anxiety strikes you.

I took a quick break to my car for a half hour but it didn't do much. I started getting texts from AJ and my boss, asking where I was. I was terrified but I couldn't just dive into a hole. I figured I'd give it one more try and attempt to walk in, and once I could smell the grilling meat, I knew that I wasn't going to make it.

I spotted AJ and whispered to her that I needed to leave. She said, "Okay - can I just grab a few photos?" There was a guy there wearing the same tank as I was, so she wanted to get a pic before I left (see pic above).

I took a couple of pictures, shot some quick video and darted for my car to head home. I felt terrible. I felt like I had let down AJ, our entire staff who was working so hard, The Laundry and Chef Jody (my burger sponsors). Most importantly, I feel like I let all of our listeners down. After telling them for weeks to come "join us" at this event, I was M.I.A.

So, for people who are not well-versed in the arena of mental health and, who most likely, don't understand the effects of mental illness, here's a little peek. It probably looks nothing like you imagined.

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