Romina Babek a Bulgarian content creator living in Cairo.
It was her childhood dream to visit Egypt, and in 2015 she finally made it to the country on 2-month volunteering program with AIESEC – the world’s largest youth-run non-governmental organization. It didn’t take much time before the Bulgarian to fall in love with Egypt and her 2-month term was extended into becoming 4 years, as of today.
While known for her extremely positive energy and highly engaging social media presence, Romina made it clear that there’s often much more she faces behind closed doors, alone.
It had been the first time for the Bulgarian to open up about the frequent panic attacks she’d started experiencing at the age of 18, exactly 10 years ago.
“I remember the very first time I experienced it, it was September – I was 18 and it was the final and most important year of high school. I started feeling weird every time I go to school – my legs would start shaking, my heart would pound heavily, feeling as if I would throw up or faint. I usually have low blood pressure so I thought that could be causing the physical unease. I realized every time I enter school or I go to crowded public places likes cinemas, malls, restaurants – it starts happening – I lose control over my body,” Romina recalls, at the time, having to open up to her mother about her concurrent panics.
“I remember on one occasion, when all of our classes were gathered to celebrate at a restaurant, I experienced it so severely that I couldn’t stay and after 10 min, I rushed back home crying to where I felt safe,” she explains, referring that this experience, in particular, made her avoid going to crowded places for quite some time during her last year of high school.
Finding The Cause
Romina tells us how tiring the process was in finding what could possibly be causing such a disruption to her life. Her panic attacks made it uncomfortable being around any place that had a large concentration of people.
“My mother and I did all the medical checkups I could do and they all showed no signs of abnormalities. We went to many doctors but only one really helped us; we were told to see a psychiatrist or psychologist to help understand the reaction I was experiencing. After seeing a psychiatrist, I was prescribed with 2 types of antidepressants which were quite severe. I didn’t end up taking them. Afterward, my mother started seeking modern alternative medicine for treatment – we found the best psychologist around my town in Bulgaria- who also does hypnotherapy,” Romina adds, laughing at their initial fear of hypnotherapy.
“At that time none of us had heard of this alternative treatment and we a lot of prejudgments. My mom tried one session first to make sure it was alright and I remember she came out saying how she never felt this way before – empowered, relaxed and with clarity of mind. After trying hypnotherapy myself and visiting the clinic on a weekly basis, I can safely tell you that I have no explanation as to how I stopped experiencing these frequent attacks. The result was obvious after only 3-4 sessions and the very interesting thing was that my hypnotherapist never discussed I had a problem after my first visit,” Romina tells Ally Salama, founder of Empower Mag.
“I can describe Hypnotherapy as deep guided relaxation, it’s a form of therapy used to reprogram the subconscious mind. It can be used to treat anxiety, phobias, undesirable spontaneous behaviors, and bad habits, help improve sleep, learning disorders, etc.
A panic attack is an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, and during which time a variety of psychological and physical symptoms occur. They are mostly unpredictable and can make a person feel like they’re quite literally dying, with the usual symptoms of a heavy pounding heart, shortness in breath, sweating, lightheadedness and shaking.
The Bulgarian’s Experience in Egypt
During her first couple of years in Egypt, teaching English to adults, Romina emphasized how many people would come up to her and open up about similar experiences they could not share with others, due to the unfamiliarity with what exactly they’d be experiencing & due to fear.
“I met a lot of young students who would open up to me. They don’t know there is a name for this “thing” they feel on a regular basis. They often say they feel depressed and they are already taking medicine, which makes me very sad because I just fear they become dependent on them. I always try suggesting alternative medicine and share my experience with hypnotherapy.”
Romina tells us that only very recently did she start experiencing a similar episode to that when she was 18.
“It’s been many years that I haven’t contacted my psychologist and hypnotherapist, and I’m going to have to talk to her soon. Recently I noticed that my panic attacks start coming again unpredictably. The only thing that’s different this time is that I know what it is and I know what to expect and I’m ready to fight them.”
Romina on Social Media
“While I always try to present the pink positive side, to inspire and motivate others, it’s really time to know that behind this image, I often struggle and I’m fighting my own demons, and I’m sure many others do too,” says Romina.
Beneath the surface, we must always seek to understand more of who people are, judge less and empathize more.Ally Salama
“There’s so much that social media doesn’t show, so I hope my story can empower others to know that they are not alone. Especially here [in Egypt], I remember being warned not to talk about that stuff. But WHY? People are afraid to be judged, stereotyped and bullied. But I’m here willing to help.”
Panic attacks are part of many people’s lives and with the right therapy we can learn how to deal with them, eventually, get rid of them. I’m really glad that you, Ally, gave me the chance to speak up and I’m so proud of what you’re doing! It’s time we open up!”
Romina Babek is currently working on her startup – Knzinity, an app for creating gamified viral challenges & contests as she continues to pursue an online career as a digital content creator living in Egypt.
Make sure to check Romina Babek’s profile on Instagram here!
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