#81 - Confronting a panic attack
#81 - Confronting a panic attack
Dan Shipper: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to Talk Therapy, a podcast where two friends talk about their journey to start a media business together. I am Dan Shipper.
Nathan Baschez: [00:00:06] And I am Nathan Baschez. And today, we've got a followup of sorts to our last episode, an amazing conversation with Alex Lieberman of Morning Brew. He talked about panic. And, Dan talked about his panic. So we wanted to dive deeper on that.
Dan Shipper: [00:00:20] Yeah, um, this is actually... I'm like almost sweating, talking about this. But, um-
Nathan Baschez: [00:00:25] I'm trying to-
Dan Shipper: [00:00:25] But-
Nathan Baschez: [00:00:26] Is it appropriate for me to make a joke? [crosstalk 00:00:28].
Dan Shipper: [00:00:28] Make as many jokes as you want. I think... Honestly, I think, um-
Nathan Baschez: [00:00:30] Are you panicked?
Dan Shipper: [00:00:32] I'm not panicked yet. But I can... My palms are sweating, talking about it. But yeah, basically it's a thing that, that I've had. I don't have like, full-blown panic attacks. Like, often people will feel like they're dying, or they're going crazy, um, and they, they really, really can't breathe for like, a long time. My panic, uh, typically comes up around like, public speaking stuff.
And it started like, seven years ago, after one particularly bad incident, and has basically been with me ever since. And they're, they're kind of like limited symptom panic attacks. For, you know, 10 to 20 seconds or so, I can't breathe and I can't really speak, specifically when I start talking during like a presentation or, or a, you know, a talk or anything that feels like it's high pressure. And I manage it with Beta blockers, so it hasn't stopped me from doing anything, but it makes a lot of the things that I do on a day-to-day basis more nerve wrecking than they might be for, for other people.
And so, we thought that as part of this episode today we could like, go back and actually go through a panic event that I had. 'Cause it's recorded. Um, and I've never actually looked at the recording. And Nathan, do you wanna like set that up a little bit?
Nathan Baschez: [00:01:39] Yeah. So basically, what happened is we went on a podcast with our friend Jacob Donelly. And we started the show, and he asked a question and you started answering. This was like the very first question. It was like, basically, what does Every do? And I don't know exactly what happened, but we've talked about it some. But you started going, and you started feeling kind of like, out of breath. And then, we had to start over. We were like okay, that's fine, whatever, we can edit it. And then he asked basically the same question again. And we kinda rolled through it, but there was still some of that feeling.
Dan Shipper: [00:02:10] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:02:10] And so, we're not getting the like raw, raw panic attack, of like the first one. But we are... And it's so funny because Jacob probably just thought like, oh, like you know, he's a little nervous maybe and he like, kind of messed, flubbed the answer and just wants to like restart it, or whatever.
Dan Shipper: [00:02:23] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:02:23] He didn't really know the story you were telling yourself about what was happening.
Dan Shipper: [00:02:41] Yeah. So basically going into that call, going into that recording... And by the way, going into that I hadn't had any sort of panic symptoms in about six months. It was this weird thing where we had started Every, and all of the panicky stuff that I had been feeling for the last seven years was gone. But on this fateful day, we had had a, a fight right before the recording. I can't remember what it was about, but there was some tension between us. And there was some kind of lasting feeling of, for me, about like, oh man, I... This business isn't going that well. But I was just kind of like, okay, we're gonna record it, I'll shake it off, it's fine. I wasn't even thinking about panic at that point. Uh-
Nathan Baschez: [00:03:01] You were more thinking that I was an asshole [laughs].
Dan Shipper: [00:03:03] Yeah, basically. It wasn't... Actually, it wasn't about you. It was just about like, is this business any good? Kind of-
Nathan Baschez: [00:03:08] Oh, okay.
Dan Shipper: [00:03:09] More, more that kind of thing. But there was-
Nathan Baschez: [00:03:10] Was it less of a fight and more of like a bad new- Because honestly, I have no memory of it.
Dan Shipper: [00:03:13] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:03:14] I remember recording the episode, but that's it. I don't remember anything before or after it.
Dan Shipper: [00:03:18] [crosstalk 00:03:18]-
Nathan Baschez: [00:03:18] And I don't really remember that much. I just remember that we recorded it.
Dan Shipper: [00:03:21] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:03:21] You know, I don't [inaudible 00:03:21].
Dan Shipper: [00:03:22] Yeah. I think there was a fight and things were not going that well, for whatever reason, that day. And so it was just kind of compounded. Anyway, we go into it. And Jacob asked me a question. I can't remember what the first question he asked is. But, basically he was asking me to describe what Every is, but it was like, kinda not exactly that question. But I started answering as if he'd asked that question.
Nathan Baschez: [00:03:42] Yeah.
Dan Shipper: [00:03:42] And then As I'm going, I can just feel my chest start to constrict, and I can feel myself running out of air. And then I can also feel myself thinking, am I really answering this question well? Is this any good? Is this interesting? Is this bad? And as I'm thinking those things, I can't breathe, I can't breathe, I can't breathe. And finally, I was like, okay, we gotta stop. And we started over. And, you know, he asked the same question again.
Nathan Baschez: [00:04:08] Yeah.
Dan Shipper: [00:04:09] And like, still had the same feeling, but just kind of like got through it as best as I could. And after I was done, he asked another question and you started answering. And I'm just like sitting there, kind of, trying to like catch my breath. And for the next like 20 minutes or so, every time I tried to answer a question, I basically had like two to three sentences worth of air before I had to stop. So then I was just like kind of, trying to pick my spots. And I didn't feel like I could give any like, long and detailed answers. And thank god you were there, 'cause you were like expounding on things, and I was just kind of like popping in, here and there, where I had enough air to.
And then, by about the middle to the later part of it, I was like fine. And I was basically back to being able to talk. But it just felt... Honestly, that just, it just felt so bad. Like, it felt like I had messed it up, it felt like if I were you, I would, you know, I thought you were kind of like, what the fuck is going on with Dan here?
Nathan Baschez: [00:04:59] Yeah.
Dan Shipper: [00:04:59] And-
Nathan Baschez: [00:04:59] Yeah. What did you think Jacob was thinking? And what did you think I was thinking? How did it seem like it would appear to other people-
Dan Shipper: [00:05:05] I just-
Nathan Baschez: [00:05:05] ... that were viewing this event, or w- listening to this event?
Dan Shipper: [00:05:07] Probably, okay, he's nervous. But like, come on, like we already restarted once. He's just describing what Every is. It's not even live. Like, why is he not able to like, fully just talk without being out of breath? You know. It's just that feeling of... Sometimes y- you get into this place where it's like other peo- When other people are like, oh, is he okay? Is there... Is something wrong with him? Like that feels really bad. And that's kind of what I think, or what I feel coming off of people when I'm going through this. Even if it's not necessarily true. And it definitely feels w- worse and more noticeable, I think, than it actually is. Uh, yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:05:44] Yeah, I mean, should we listen to the tape?
Dan Shipper: [00:05:46] I think we should. It's funny 'cause I just... I haven't listened to it since it came out. 'Cause I just like... It just felt too bad. But I feel like it would be a really interesting form of exposure or something, to-
Nathan Baschez: [00:05:58] Yeah.
Dan Shipper: [00:05:59] ... listen to it together. And then see if it is actually as bad as I think it is. Or as it feels. And I will tell you again, like, I'm not out of breath, but I can feel my, my heart rate is higher, and I'm sweating right now.
Nathan Baschez: [00:06:13] What's at stake for you?
Dan Shipper: [00:06:14] It's interesting. Probably at a deep level, it's like my image of myself as a competent, confident person that has ideas and can express them in ways that people find compelling. And not being able to do that, 'cause I literally can't breathe, strikes pretty closely to the heart of things that are important to me about who I am.
Nathan Baschez: [00:06:38] Yeah. Well, before we even listen, just... You have great ideas.
Dan Shipper: [00:06:42] [laughs]
Nathan Baschez: [00:06:43] And even if you run out of breath sometimes or experience these, these panic attacks... Which, frankly, I don't... I... This is the only one I've ever seen, and at the time I had no clue that was going on for you.
Dan Shipper: [00:06:53] Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Nathan Baschez: [00:06:54] If it makes you feel better, I don't think it comes off as bad as you think it does.
Dan Shipper: [00:06:58] Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Nathan Baschez: [00:06:59] Also, I think it's incredible strength to be talking about this because this is something that people really experience. And also, by the way, like we mentioned last episode, there may be just some neurological wiring around your carbon dioxide sensors or something, in your brain.
Dan Shipper: [00:07:12] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:07:12] That's like... It has nothing to do with like, you know, weakness, and everything to do with just a quirk of your neuroanatomy, or something like that, potentially. So anyway, should we... Should we listen?
Dan Shipper: [00:07:23] Let's do it.
Nathan Baschez: [00:07:23] I just wanna make sure you're ready to listen.
Dan Shipper: [00:07:25] I'm ready. Let's do it.
Nathan Baschez: [00:07:26] Okay. Cool, all right. So let's hit the play button.
Jacob Donelly: [00:07:30] Hey, everyone. I'm Jacob Cohen Donelly, and this is A Media Operator. This show is a discussion about building media companies for current and prospective media operators. We discuss [crosstalk 00:07:42]-
Nathan Baschez: [00:07:42] Prospective. I like that. It's like you're a college applicant.
Dan Shipper: [00:07:44] Yeah.
Jacob Donelly: [00:07:45] My guests this week are Dan Shipper and Nathan Baschez, the founders of Everything. [crosstalk 00:07:50]-
Dan Shipper: [00:07:50] The founders of Everything, I love that.
Jacob Donelly: [00:07:52] During our one hour conversation, we discussed where the idea of the Everything Bundle came from, how they handle the revenue share with the various writers in the network, why they ran their first ad ever, and where they see the business going over the coming years with a variety of different vertical newsletters. I hope you enjoy our discussion.
Let's set the stage because a year ago this whole concept of Everything wasn't really a thing. Can you both take a minute and talk about each of your individual publications and then explain what Everything is, and how this idea came to you? And let's start with you, Dan.
Dan Shipper: [00:08:30] Yeah. So it started off with, uh, Superorganizers, which is a newsletter that I write, which is on productivity. Uh, and basically I was just super fascinated, about a year ago, with, um, all the productivity systems that I use and other people use. And I was actually really interested in, not starting a newsletter, but starting a software company around it, that's my background. And, uh, I figured I could start with a newsletter 'cause I really like writing and, um, it felt like a good way to develop an audience and learn how to basically, uh... Like how to build a software product, uh, as I was writing the newsletter.
And I started it, and people just loved, uh... They loved the newsletter. It just started taking off. And I was like, wow, maybe I could just, you know, start newsletters. Um, and I got really psyched about the space, really psyched about paid newsletters. And really psyched about, um, business newsletters in particular, 'cause I was like, well, I guess people are, um, more likely to pay for business newsletters than for other types of newsletters, and that's kind of the, the area that Superorganizers is in, is in anyway. So I started getting psyched about like, starting m- more business focused newsletters. Um, and that's when I... That's when I called Nathan.
Nathan Baschez: [00:09:36] Yeah. And, and wh- what Dan didn't say, is that like-
I feel like that was the worst part, probably.
Dan Shipper: [00:09:40] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:09:41] Should we pause?
Dan Shipper: [00:09:42] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:09:44] That didn't sound so bad to me. I don't know. What's your reaction?
Dan Shipper: [00:09:47] It's funny, 'cause I can see... I guess I can see it in two ways. One is, I can listen to it as someone that doesn't know what's going on and feel like, okay, that's pretty normal. But then, for me, I know internally, every single one of those sighs was like... There's a couple of points where I'm sighing or like, I'm breathing heavily, and I can tell that my... I'm pausing between sentences, my sentences are shorter and more clipped, and my, my voice is higher than it usually is.
Nathan Baschez: [00:10:17] Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Dan Shipper: [00:10:18] And I'm talking more quickly than I usually do. There's just a lot of discomfort underneath it. And it's really interesting to see how that is probably not apparent to people. But I also remember being in that place, and it, it was like pretty hard.
Nathan Baschez: [00:10:34] Definitely. I'm curious, like what percent do you think of the discomfort came from your perception that your discomfort was obvious to everyone who is listening?
Dan Shipper: [00:10:46] That's a great question. I think that, when I'm going through something like this, it's like I have to run a race and I have to be really fast, but my leg is injured, like I'm running with like a torn ACL or something. So I can kind of like hobble along, but I can't run as fast as I know that I want to, or really should be able to if I didn't have this torn ACL. And I guess you can't even run on a torn ACL, so maybe bad example. But-
Nathan Baschez: [00:11:12] Sure. [crosstalk 00:11:12].
Dan Shipper: [00:11:12] ... you get the just.
Nathan Baschez: [00:11:13] Yeah.
Dan Shipper: [00:11:13] Yeah. And not only am I running slower than I feel like I want to be, or should be, or really can be, but there are a lot of stakes. I'm a professional runner. And maybe it's not, you know, the Super Bowl of running events, but it's like, we're in the arena of getting towards playoff time [laughs]. That's what it feels like at least. And maybe it's not just that my leg is injured, but maybe I have some responsibility in the fact that my leg is injured. It's, um... It means something about me. It's not like I was just in a car accident the other day so it's like explainable. And so, it's this feeling of really straining to run as fast as I can, but knowing that I can't, that I think creates the discomfort. Along with, literally just not being able to breathe. That is a, really just, a distressing experience. Um-
Nathan Baschez: [00:12:03] Sure.
Dan Shipper: [00:12:03] ... to just be talking normally and feel like you're suffocating, is really hard, in the process of just talking about normal things or talking about your company or whatever.
Nathan Baschez: [00:12:12] If you could go back and give advice to yourself, maybe in the moment after we had to cut and we started the second take, the moment before we started the second take, what would you say?
Dan Shipper: [00:12:22] That's a g- Another great question. Um, I would have done two things. One, is I would have given myself a couple of minutes to just reset a little bit, rather than dive right in again.
Nathan Baschez: [00:12:35] Right.
Dan Shipper: [00:12:36] And I felt a lot of pressure.
Nathan Baschez: [00:12:36] Smoke a cigarette, you know.
Dan Shipper: [00:12:37] Yeah. You know.
Nathan Baschez: [00:12:38] Let's take five. Come on.
Dan Shipper: [00:12:40] Get more oxygen, yeah. I would have definitely given myself more time. And then I would have also just said, hey, I'm feeling a little nervous. Like that question was a little odd, like I don't know exactly how you want me to answer it. Like, how do you want me to answer it? What are you looking for? And just had a conversation with him about it, rather than... I feel like I put him in this place of, he has this question that is like, a little bit oddly formulated, but I'm gonna power through and, and, and answer it even though I don't really know what he wants, um, without asking. Because I should know. And the fact that I don't, means something about me. But yeah, I should have just revealed that that's how I felt. And I think it would have pretty much immediately gotten rid of the feeling.
Nathan Baschez: [00:13:19] Do you feel like since then, you've been able to internalize some of those lessons? Or do you feel like it's only now that you're starting to, maybe in some ways, heal or grow from that experience?
Dan Shipper: [00:13:32] Basically, I avoided it for the last, I don't know... How, how many months it's been. But it's, it's probably, probably been almost a year. I probably avoided it for almost a year. And I don't think that that was helpful or good, and probably made it worse. And I think being able to do this with you is very special, but also just very eye-opening. It feels much more like, it's gonna be okay-
Nathan Baschez: [00:13:53] Yeah.
Dan Shipper: [00:13:54] ... than I had really previously felt.
Nathan Baschez: [00:13:57] Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Dan Shipper: [00:13:57] And might make it easier for me to go through these experiences without... And experience the discomfort without feeling like it's the end of the world.
Nathan Baschez: [00:14:07] Right. I'm curious-
Dan Shipper: [00:14:07] Which I think is the point.
Nathan Baschez: [00:14:08] Yeah. Like, kind of getting back to the question I asked earlier that, I mean, you didn't really answer. What percent? 'Cause like, the discomfort is gonna be there. Right? Like, there's gonna be moments when you're like, oh shit, this things coming on. And everything you told me about what was painful about it relates to... Or just what I heard, was like feeling judged, feeling inadequate, maybe, feeling weak, feeling misunderstood, feeling unable to perform. And the metaphor of running while injured, like, performance is determined by speed, you know.
Dan Shipper: [00:14:44] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:14:45] But, I mean, your performance was fine. It wasn't like your best moment ever on a podcast.
Dan Shipper: [00:14:50] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:14:50] But like... Whatever, it sounded like you were like slightly out of breath, maybe just excited, and like, for people who know you really well, they can probably sense some of what's going on there. But like, I don't think your performance was anywhere near as damaged as the metaphor that you proposed just earlier, right now, would suggest.
Dan Shipper: [00:15:06] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:15:07] It's like, if you had a little rock in your shoe or something.
Dan Shipper: [00:15:09] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:15:09] Like, you might know that you're not running as fast as you should, but everyone who's watching you is pretty much like, a normal runner, just running. You know, like, oh they-
Dan Shipper: [00:15:18] Yeah.
Nathan Baschez: [00:15:18] ... they moved their foot a little funny just then. I guess I could detect something if I'm like really looking. And It's not to say there's nothing apparent. Like, people could tell you're out of breath. But like, what that meant...there's way less judgment, I think, than you might perceive.
Dan Shipper: [00:15:31] Yeah. This is really... This is really big for me. I feel... Yeah, I'm like... I'm like tearing up a little bit-
Nathan Baschez: [00:15:39] Oh.
Dan Shipper: [00:15:39] ... thinking about this. Um, well, thank you.
Yeah. I feel really lucky that I got to do this with you.
Nathan Baschez: [00:15:53] And likewise. I'm gonna, um, any moment now, require a, uh, shoulder to cry on.
Dan Shipper: [00:16:01] [laughs]
Nathan Baschez: [00:16:01] Uh...
Dan Shipper: [00:16:01] I'll be there.
Nathan Baschez: [00:16:02] Well, yeah. So, um, yeah, I appreciate it.
Dan Shipper: [00:16:07] All right.
Nathan Baschez: [00:16:07] Well, until next time.
Dan Shipper: [00:16:10] Until next time.
Nathan Baschez: [00:16:10] All right.