I’m at the grocery store walking down the diaper aisle with my two kids when I start to feel as though the walls are caving in. I stop clear in my tracks feeling as though I’m grasping for my last breath of air. I cannot breathe. My hands and my palms are sweating. I can feel my body temperature rising. My heart is palpitating. I still feel as though I cannot breathe. It feels like a brick of concrete has been laid on my chest. I feel imminent doom.
I’m having a panic attack.
Before having kids I never really had a problem with being anxious. Even after having my first child (Neveah), I never experienced anxiety. After having my second (Nolan) I struggled with postpartum depression. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now looking back I realize some of the things I was and still am experiencing is anxiety.
Anxiety is mental health disorder that affects almost 3 million people in the US, so don’t be embarrassed or feel ashamed if it’s something you struggle with.
For the longest time I was in denial about having anxiety. I refused to believe that what I was experiencing were panic attacks. I felt embarrassed that as a mom I could allow this to happen. I kept telling myself things like: it’s just in your head, stop it, you can control it.
The truth is sometimes you can’t control it alone.
That’s what some people don’t understand.
Even David has told me, “You’re fine. It’s just in your head.”
Yes, it is it’s in my head.
I cannot control it, though.
I can’t stop myself from feeling paralyzed with fear at night before going to sleep. I can’t sleep sometimes because I fear I won’t wake up.
I hate when I do fall asleep because most times I wake up from a horrifying nightmare in which I died in a tragic matter.
I hate the children’s room is on the other side of the house. I fear that if something happens I won’t be able to get to them in time. I feel as though I’m constantly on guard.
I hate leaving the house sometimes even if it’s just to grocery shop because I fear public embarrassment. I hate talking to people. I don’t hate people. I just don’t like to talk to strangers because I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing.
I hate going to crowded places.
I hate that on the rare occasion I venture out to Ikea or Costco on the weekend it’s jam-packed. I feel like I’m constantly being judged.
I hate that I hate being left home alone. It absolutely terrifies me when David leaves. It terrifies me even more when he leaves and takes one of the kids.
I’m tired a lot. I have trouble sleeping. My entire body is extremely tense (this has been determined by my TMJ specialist that my muscles are very tense).
I shake. I sweat. I have troubling breathing.
I’m in constant fear not just for myself, but for my children.
Somehow having two kids hit me a lot harder than having one.
Reality hit me like a ton of bricks after having my second.
I am now not just responsible for one, but for two tiny human lives. That’s a huge responsibility. Although I’m extremely grateful, and I feel blessed it makes me worry twice as much.
I know it’s completely normal to worry as a parent about your kids. Even when your kids are adults you still worry about them. I don’t know if that worry ever fully goes away.
The problem with me is that I worry way too much. I over think everything when it comes to my children. My instinct is to be protective mama bear.
I know deep down in my heart that I cannot always protect them, and that makes me uncomfortable.
I worry about the future when I should just focus on the now. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Anxiety. Panic attacks. It’s debilitating the quality of my life.
I’ve finally recognized it.
I’m starting to figure out what triggers my panic attacks and how to cope with the anxiety.
I know some people might look at me and think I’m extremely confident. I know some people might think how could someone who writes so openly about her life on the internet feel publicly embarrassed?
I’ll tell you that most of what I write is the good stuff. I don’t write too much about the bad stuff. Every human has demons they struggle with. And not everyone is as open about their struggles as others. Just because I write a public blog or share a photo of me on Instagram smiling doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with things deep inside.
I know how to put on a good front. I know how to smile and say, “I’m fine.” When in reality I feel my world around me collapsing.
I sit down on the cold tile and begin to sob. It’s an ugly cry. My daughter, Neveah, sits down next to me. She holds my hand and says, “It’s okay mommy.” I manage to catch my breath, and in between the tears I tell her I love her. I then stand up, wipe my tears off, and take deep slow breathes. I grab Nolan out of the cart, and I hug him tight. Neveah helps me pick out which diapers to put in the cart (she’s very smart she knows what diaper brand and size Nolan wears), and we continue our grocery shopping.
If you’re a mom struggling with anxiety just know that it’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad mom. It makes you human.
Successful mothers are not the ones who have never struggled.
They are the ones who never give up, despite the struggles.
For other facts and helpful resources you can check out adaa.org. I also encourage you to talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling.
Disclaimer: This post is in no way shape or form meant to be a self diagnosis for anxiety disorder or panic attacks. If you or someone you knew may be struggling with these issues, I encourage you to seek medical advice from a qualified health physician.