• Shawna Baca

Pain-demic!


There are a lot of things weighing down on the hearts and shoulders of Americans right now. We are witnessing our nation in some of its most trying moments. The outside world has become a scary place. We are in a pandemic – the first ever within my lifetime, and the first for the majority of people living today. Our nation is demanding justice and equality, a fight that has long been in the making.


Without being too political, I feel like we have been hit by one big panic attack. We’re in the epicenter of our pain. Those negative thoughts lurking inside our head put us in a fear base, and we feel like we cannot breathe. Something is just not right and we can no longer ignore how we feel inside, the combustion that is happening is inevitable. Yes – it is painful and uncomfortable, but it is asking us to change.


When I experienced panic attacks, my flight and fight response would go off randomly at any given moment. I could never predict when one was going to hit, yet through the fear of the unknown, I often anticipated it. Walking into the battlefield of life, my mind would signal my body to react and my body would respond. This intense wave of fear would come over me, growing into palpations, quickly turning into hyperventilation, evolving into clammy hands and sweat beads dripping down my face… until ultimately the ticking time bomb inside of me imploded. Sometimes I would run out of the room. Sometimes I would run as my life depended on it. I didn’t know where I was running to, but I knew I wanted out of my body and out of that reality. The pain was too intense to bear.


Looking back, what I learned from all this was that sometimes we need to sit in the heart center of our pain. My mind and body were trying to tell me that I was holding onto some underlying emotional triggers that needed to be released, that needed to be purged. I am not going to lie: it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to experience in my life. Eventually, though, with the help of many spiritual warriors and therapists, I learned through that pain what my triggers were, why my body was reacting, why my mind was setting off the flight and fight mode.


When the understanding became clear, I realized that every breakdown I had eventually led to a breakthrough. We can only take so much before we have to fight back. You can’t fight a battle without knowing your enemy. You can’t win a war without strategy and we cannot fear the journey. Well, we can fear it, but we must feel the fear and do it anyway.


Our nation is chipping away at that pain, looking deeply at the loss and oppression, and at the trauma that our ancestors experienced when our government was first formed. We are feeling the aftermath; we are part of the bloody soil that formed our nation. We have been dysfunctional. From my perspective, we are in a state where our nation is saying that we want change—we demand change. We want healing, and we no longer want to be in pain or live in the past.


I have always loved the saying, “the quiet after the storm.” When I had panic attacks, they were some of the most turbulent moments in my life, terrifying, and often I thought I was going to die, but afterwards, I always felt relief. I felt exhausted and all that pent-up energy had worked its way out of me. So, I believe that of all the chaos that is happening now is shifting us, whether we like it or not, into changing the structure of our nation and ourselves—like collective growing pains. We must get out all that pain, the grief, the toxicity, the oppression, and so on. It is the only way that healing can begin.


I see better days ahead of us when all this is over and we will have evolved on many levels. We will have purged that which needed to be healed and let go of everything that doesn’t serve us – and our nation. We will "be the change you want to see in the world," and move more freely knowing that we worked hard for this change and removed those triggers that hold us back from being our authentic selves.

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About the Author

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SHAWNA BACA

Shawna Baca is the author of the transformational memoir, "FEAR LESS: Conquering the Demons of Mental Purgatory," and an award winning writer, director, and producer. She was selected by Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett from more than 20,000 filmmakers to be part of the 2007 FOX television show, On The Lot.  She received a “Mujeres Destacadas” award by La Opinion newspaper and the City of Los Angeles and was honored at the Latina Symposium in Washington D.C. in recognition of her positive portrayal of Latinos and Hispanics in the media. Shawna has been creating New Media content for corporate clients ever since and has produced a feature documentary. She is currently developing the coming of age feature drama, "Space for Raven," which was a second rounder in the 2020 Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition, a 2020 WeScreenplay Diverse Voices - Semi-finalist, and a 2020 Script Pipeline Feature Screenplay - Quarter-finalist. 

She was born in Los Angeles where she currently resides, and is Apache, Yaqui, Spanish and French. 

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