I was sitting at a stoplight and out of nowhere…. “Is this really happening right now?- How inconvenient, what should I do?.... Breath Bitch… find your breath Jin… Inhale 1…(why is this happening now) 2…(what made this happen) 3… (focus Jin breath) 4… hold… 2… 3… Exhale….(shit I think I missed 4) 2… 3… 4… hold.. 2…3…4… release”. As the light changed and I started to drive forward I wondered what I was suddenly worried about and why the feelings were coming out of nowhere.
I pulled over- I needed to talk. Phone a friend is not a life line that I use often but damn I needed to use it that day. I called someone… they didn’t answer… I sat there riding a wave that I didn’t see coming and couldn’t pinpoint where it came from at the time. A 20 year old version of me would have driven through the panic attack which is VERY DANGEROUS not only for myself but for those who would have been on the road with me. The responsible, enlightened, mindful, counselor in me knew that I needed to acknowledge what was happening and relax before I could “pass go” and collect my $200 doll hairs.
If you are new here WELCOME, I'm Jin I am a Mental Health Professional and certified Yoga Instructor. In this blog, my focus is always on self-care as it pertains to your whole being. That's mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I share things that have worked for me, things that others have shared with me that have worked for them, and things I've learned or studied as a way to help those who may want or need it.
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I opened with a story about something that I experienced recently. I chose this way to open up because I think it is important to share that I am a counselor, mindfulness, and yoga instructor that lives with PTSD. I also have friends, family, and community members who live with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), Autism, PTSD, ADHD and other behavioral health conditions that are often misdiagnosed, undiagnosed, or in denial of their diagnosis because of the stigma that surrounds it. I feel how frustrating it can be for us and the people who love us when we have moments of rage, inconsistency, isolation, unscheduled panic attacks, or debilitating depression due to a disruption in our neural pathways. It’s honestly one of the most exhausting feelings I’ve experienced. When it happens to me I get upset with myself that I couldn’t stop it. This time I didn’t get upset. I gave myself Kayla’s Grace.
Meet Makayla, she was a 17 year old track star whose life changed July, 10th, 2021, when she was shot by a stray bullet in the city of Cleveland. “The morning of July 10th 2021 I had just passed my drivers test to get my license. I had to work that day and was excited to drive there on my own. Unfortunately on my way to my second job I was shot in the right side of my head in a crossfire. I had to receive emergency, life saving brain surgery. I was in the hospital for 2 months where I had to learn to talk, walk, and even eat again. I still go to Metro Health, today, where the amazing staff helps me with physical, speech, and occupational therapies. Eventually I was coined the ‘Metro Miracle.’
This incident created a major turn in my life. Before this happened I was a soon-to-be senior track star. I had been to nationals twice and have won multiple medals. I worked two jobs and helped a lot at home with my single mom and younger siblings. At that specific point in my life, I was trying to decide what I would do after I graduated high school. I was thinking of going to an HBCU for track or find a good nursing school nearby. In the blink of an eye…this all changed. There is now Makayla before being shot and Makayla after being shot. Everyday I struggle choosing between the two.
The Makayla before was confident. She didn’t deal with depression, anxiety, and the everyday drama of relearning how to function in society. I haven’t entirely grown to love the new Makayla but I do have to admit, I like that she is slowly becoming her own self. She’s really goofy, loves to make people laugh, she’s determined, and full of new knowledge and experiences.
"The one thing that I’ve gained from what happened to me is that I look at life differently." Makayla says, Before this, I was honestly confused about my faith. I went back and forth in belief. Since it happened I am a true believer. My grandfather passed away the year before. When I was in the hospital I kept seeing him with me. I told my mom and my g-daddy over and over again…he was the first person I seen when I woke up. I feel like he was with me through all of this and is still with me, helping to motivate me. I see God through him and because of that I am learning to see God through a lot of people and things. My faith is continuing to grow.
I never forget how far I’ve come and everything I’ve gotten through. All of the times that I have pushed on even though I thought I couldn’t, all of the times I have wanted to give up but still got through another day, I owe to faith. I owe it to my family. I owe it to all of you for your continued support and love!”
My community met Makayla through her mother Natasha, who attended one of my virtual self-love workshops in September 2021. Before I could ask anyone if they wanted to introduce themselves Kayla said “Hi, I’m Makayla and I got shot in the head. This hasn’t been easy for me but I’m here and I’m strong and I’m here. I’ve come a long way and I didn’t get this far to get this far”. I was in awe with admiration for the courage it took for her to tell her story at that moment.
This young woman who 2 months earlier was in the hospital fighting for her life, who couldn’t walk, who couldn’t speak, who couldn’t see, was now speaking in front of strangers getting ready to practice some yoga. We all thanked Makayla for sharing and as introductions continued, I learned that I was in the presence of warriors. Brave souls willing and ready to endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behavior) without showing fear time and time again. Warriors who were showing up to fight for themselves. In that class we created a personal “tool-box” of healthy coping skills to use when life starts. One thing I added to my tool box was a reminder that life is tough some times but so are we. Just like Makayla said, "I did not make it this far to make it this far." We have to keep going. Walking in faith not fear.
I want to thank Makayla for allowing me to share her story with hopes to inspire someone to love yourself for yourself where you are, how you are, and embrace all the parts that come with you. The parts you like and especially the parts you don’t, you needed all of those parts to get you to this very moment. The moment you are sitting here reading this post. I never really understood that until I innerstood it (felt it on the inside on a spiritual level). Continue to give yourself grace as you meet each version of yourself with a hug.
Makayla celebrated her 18th birthday this past February and graduated from high school June 3rd, 2022!
Follow Makayla’s Journey on Instagram @dukes_n_dawta
Until next time remember you didn't come this far to come THIS far-keep going.