A Powerful Lesson From My Most Recent Panic Attack

“Be Gentle. You are meeting parts of yourself you have been at war with.” 


On Friday December 11, I made what would become the last Artidote post of 2020.  The next day, I experienced something I hadn’t felt in years: the surge of a major panic attack. 

And although this story has a happy ending with a profound lesson at the end, I feel the need to go back to that day for a moment and contextualize what prompted my recent online absence and, more importantly, where today’s Gentle Reminder is coming from.

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Recap: Artidote Meet-up in Malta

An informal gathering of local Artidotees—of which the most recent happened on April 19, 2018 in Valleta, Malta.

There is no set agenda or program for these informal gatherings at the moment. My intention is simply to bring together like-hearted people who have a strong connection with The Artidote. I suspect that they would also find strong connections with each other. So far I’ve hosted 5 Meetups around the world (Boston, US | Nicosia, CY | Dublin, IE | Bangalore, IN | Valleta, MT). Each one has taught me so much about you, about me & what I can further do to strengthen this community & expand the positive impact it’s been having in our lives.

I’ve learned that each Meet-up will be slightly different depending on location, weather & number of Artidotees present. In Dublin, 6 people came together at a coffee shop. In Bangalore, surpassing all my expectations, 130 people crowded the restaurant. Due to the wonderful weather that day in Malta, we decided to meet outdoors. 20 Maltese Artidotees would come through.

The Little Big Things

A group convo blossomed. We spoke about the little things: how to say BREATHE in Maltese (hu nifs), what the people of Malta are like, how scary and awkward it can feel to come & meet a group of virtual strangers, taking dancing classes (burlesque) as a therapeutic way to build self-esteem and how to meditate in public without looking like a weirdo.

We spoke about the big things: the energy of love, the evolutionary value of pain, the mystery of death, living with mental illnesses and the country’s general perception on mental health. In essence, for 2 hrs we created a space of comfort where to have real & vulnerably honest conversations as well as silly chit-chat & laughter. And, of course, there were plenty of selfies and hugs in the end 🙂

I loved the fact that some Artidotees found someone to connect with beyond that moment. Perhaps some life-long friendships were planted that day. They also created a Facebook group where to keep in touch, share helpful resources and send updates on future meet-ups between themselves.

I have big dreams with The Artidote & these meet-ups are little glimpses of what it can evolve into in the future.

P.S. Here’s a link to the photo album on Instagram

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A Catwalk In Mumbai: Please Feed Jova When You See Him

It was a beautiful Friday morning in Chimbai, Mumbai. My friend Anto had set us up for a casual stroll through the streets of Chimbai with Jyotsna, a wonderful woman that feeds stray cats in her village. Everyday. Twice a day. Now for 7 years straight.

 feeding stray cats in Chimbai  baby cat is afraid to come out  chiku the cat being shy

If that sounds fascinating, it’s because it is. She considers these cats, over 150 of them (and counting), her extended family. And, like her own family in Mumbai, she cares for them every single day. It felt ritualistic; to begin every single morning with this simple act of kindness.

A Cat Named Jova

She knows all of them by heart. How could she not; she’s names nearly all of them. Sometimes, we were told, it is her two young daughters who have given them names. That’s why on a particular street corner you may find “Belle” chilling with “Sebastian.”

watching jova the cat eat jova with his namesake cat

The cat you see here was a recent newcomer to the family, so nobody had yet come up with a name for him. As soon as I approached him, he came closer to greet me by purring and caressing my leg with his body and tail. I usually don’t receive this treatment from cats, which anybody who knows me knows as well that I’m not a “cat person.” But this connection felt different. Jyotsna, perhaps noticing our immediate bond (or that our color coordination was on point), told me I could name him if I wanted to. It felt like such an honor; being granted the opportunity to name one of her children.

And I did.

So from now on, everyday when she walks around feeding her extended family, whenever she reaches this specific corner in Chimbai, she will be greeted by a cat named “Jova.”

jova with his namesake cat jova with his namesake cat

May we all leave pieces of ourselves wherever we go. And may we also carry beautiful stories from elsewhere forever in our hearts.

The Artidote is a passion project running on love for the past 3 years by a team of one. But I’ve finally let go of my fear of asking for help, which I need more than ever to sustain the amount of work it requires today to keep it running. Please consider contributing to its financial sustainability so that I may be able to keep this dream running <3 

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