I’m going to be straight up honest with you.
I had a panic attack this morning waking up to my children. My youngest miracle is three and hates sleep. I often say he will grow up into a fine entrepreneur since he has no concept of time. I can count on him being in my room between 2 and 5 a.m. every day. When he comes in, so does his older brother, who has a radar go off every time he senses his brother is getting iPad time he isn’t.
When this happens they are like two beta fish in a tank fighting over a kernel of food. These are the days I hold a deep disdain for the high and mighty “we don’t do a lot of iPad time” horse I seem to ride on.
This morning at 4 a.m. I woke up to my youngest and the first thing I felt was a stabbing pain in my chest. I could feel the attack starting. I set him up with an iPad and tried to settle myself down. Convincing myself it was only because I was disturbed in the middle of a sleep that my body had panicked.
An hour later both children are screaming and fighting. One wants oatmeal, one wants pancakes, no wait cereal, no wait toast. But it won’t be done fast enough so can I make them a snack before I make them breakfast? Also:
My one son runs upstairs with the other toy, the chase begins.
I haven’t gone to the washroom yet and the list begins in my head. It’s the list I know I’ll forget, the list of everything important that needs to get done today. It’s not the list that gets me, it’s the fact that I know after 32 years of life, that this is the “didn’t do” list, not the “to do list.”
E-mail dings. I have a bride interested in my wedding packages but how much would it be to travel to B.C and would that be something I am up for?
OMG what an amazing opportunity, I’ll just message her back rea….
My kid lets out the 911 scream.
Did he fall from the bunk? Is he bleeding from the head? Did he find one of our animals deceased? I’m terrified, my chest stabs in pain. He can’t find his tiger, not just any tiger, his favorite one.
5 deep breathes.
I get a message “Did you register Maverick in Kindergarten?” My heart pangs again.
Oh right. My baby is going to Kindergarten in two weeks and every time I try to think about it, tears well up in my eyes. I message my best friend as I cry, looking for some solace.
My 3-year-old escapes out the front door. I had a chain lock on it but they busted it last week. The three-year-old lets all the animals out just as the neighbours are having cement poured.
Thinking a walk and some fresh air will cure this anxiety and chest pain, I manage to get everyone dressed and out the door.
The coffee shop is packed and my claustrophobia kicks in. I start taking deep breaths but each breath is more painful than the last.
Am I having a heart attack? Maybe this isn’t anxiety. Maybe this is the real deal.
People with anxiety are known not only for having their medical issues dismissed to anxiety, but also dismiss it themselves. Often times I will delay going into the doctor for weeks. There was a time in my life I almost died from a virus thinking I had the flu and anxiety. Another time a nurse didn’t believe me that I was in active labour and said she just thought it was my “anxiety” and didn’t request the epidural.
I purchase some drinks and a coffee, a medicinal coffee in my mind, and leave as quickly as I can.
As I anxiously watch my kids play balancing act and “how high can I jump?” in the park, I start wondering whether I’m honestly having a heart attack and contemplate calling an ambulance. I’ll just google this symp….
My son gets stung by a wasp on his hand, for the second time in as many days.
He is screaming, and I’m worried. I breathe in and it hurts. I pick him up and the weight of him exasperates the pain. I have to put him down, it hurts too much. We abandon our drinks, including my freshly purchased coffee.
I carry him all the way home, all 42 pounds of him as I worry and struggle to breathe. We get home and my chest hurts badly.
I pull out the iPad, maybe I can kick this panic attack with a quick 10-minute meditation.
The kids are fighting, and they’re hungry, and they want to play outside, and can my oldest make his own cereal, can my youngest *insert jibber jabber request*. Also, MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY.
My chest aches.
Five things I’m grateful for
Five deep breaths
Is the day over yet?
It’s 11 a.m.
This is the life of a Mom with generalized anxiety disorder. What does this mean? It means I am worried about everything, and I always have been. I remember being a child and constantly being told I needed to calm down, not worry, learn to soothe. I had no idea why everyone else wasn’t in a constant state of panic and I was. I remember looking at my Mother after another failed doctors appointment. She was telling me “It’s your anxiety. You need to calm down and stop worrying” and with every bit of sincerity asked “How? How do I do this? Please teach me.”
However, some days I can not see the positives in this diagnoses, and it hits me how real it actually is. The actual physical pain is very similar to when I had pneumonia. It feels like I’ve pulled all the muscles in my chest. I am exhausted. It is now dinner time as I write this, but it might as well be the middle of the night. I have been in flight and fight mode so long I can no longer judge whether situations are safe or unsafe and I am saturated with fear and panic after 12 hours of this. Thoughts are unfiltered and emotionless. I’m just so tired.
As a Mom with anxiety, I could write several books on what life is like for me that is different from others. I remember asking a good friend “How do you plan a birthday party? Aren’t you scared you’re going to forget someone and hurt their feelings?” “No,” was all she replied. Life for any parent is anxious and overwhelming but for someone who has any sort of anxiety disorder, some days can actually feel like parenting is killing you.
If you are a Mom dealing with anxiety I want you to know you are not alone. It can seem like everyone around you is not seeing the same flaming to the ground world you are, and I understand this feeling.
If your today was exactly like mine, just know that the best thing is, tomorrow is a new day and this feeling will pass.
Tomorrow your anxiety may do great things for you!
1. Keep you from getting scammed. Someone with anxiety can see the loopholes in a scammer almost instantly.
2. Be great conversationalists. We are quick thinkers!
3. Be an amazing detective! Whether on the hunt for the perfect car or sleuthing for your bestie, someone with anxiety can deduce several facts as quick as a computer as well as find creative ways to research what they need.
4. Make you grateful. Someone with anxiety knows the worst outcome of every situation, and often times it is us you will find breathing out the most sighs of relief. Every day is a good day when the fear of doom doesn’t actuate, am I right?
5. Make you an amazing risk taker! When your brain has somehow fear mongered you into thinking the outside is a death trap, even walking outside can feel like climbing a mountain. Someone with anxiety is always overcoming a fear one way or another. Especially parents! Every single time we “allow” our kids out of our sight, we are overcoming our greatest fears, so bravo and encore!
6. Make you quick on your feet. Maybe you do something for work that requires you to be a quick decision maker, or maybe you have two active preschoolers as I do. Either way, anxiety is going to give you heightened reaction time! I can not tell you how many times I’ve heard “Wow, great catch!” or “Whoa, save of the day!”
Try to remember while you’re swirling in the tornado that the storm is temporary.
If you can’t see the light than your only job is to hold on. Hold on to whatever you can and breathe as much as you can. The kids will sleep eventually. If it doesn’t get better, talk to someone. Ask for help. Maybe someone who knows what you’re going through, or a professional. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice things in your budget for your time. You are just as important and can not pour from an empty cup. Also, call a spade a spade. If you are having a panic attack, say it out loud. You wouldn’t believe the freedom of just saying it. And remember, it isn’t all bad.
You’re going to be great. Maybe not today but you will be, and remember, you are not alone.
Twirling Red Dress Photo: www.everlastphotography.ca