That all too Familiar Feeling

It sneaked up on me.

My stomach churned into a lumpy knot which burned.

My eyes stung as I limped out of the room.

“Mam?” My middle son called.

Beads of sweat rolled down my forehead. I tried to answer him. Nothing came out.

I concentrated hard on controlling my breathing, to no avail.

“Mam!” He shouted.

I raised my index finger, “One..” I took another breath , “Minute” my breathing laboured as I crawled up the stairs.

Panic engulfed me.

My mind raced while my breathing galloped out of my control.

Somehow I made my way into my bedroom , throwing myself on my bed, I fought hard to take deep breaths which refused to come.

I could hear my youngest son climbing the stairs.

I couldn’t let him see me like this.

I crawled into my ensuite and locked the door.

Breathe. Breathe. Just breathe…

“Mammy are you in there, look at my drawing?” He knocked on the door.

“Dad” I squeezed out. “Get dad”

The room began to spin while my legs shook.

“Open the door hunny” his voice was calm, warm and safe.

I opened the door.

He picked me up. “You’re having a panic attack . You’re ok. You’re ok” he repeated as he gently placed me on our bed.

“I am getting you water now. The boys are all downstairs and everyone is calm”

He left.

I closed my eyes as my stomach churned. I could feel the wet sheet under me.

He came back, water in hand.

“Drink this” he gently lifted my head while I tried to protest.

“Breathe , breathe , just breathe” he gently rubbed my leg all the while telling me that this was a panic attack which I needed to breathe through.

My mind was racing.

I had not had a panic attack like this one, in years.

I concentrated on his calming voice.


He began to breathe with me.

I followed his lead.

As quickly as it begun, it was over.

My head pounded.

“Let me turn on the shower for you” he smiled as he moved my drenched hair off my forehead.

“I..I..” I lay on the bed, shocked at how suddenly that attack happened.

“I don’t know what happened” I began to cry as he got the towels ready.
“Shh…it’s ok. It can happen. It’s ok” he soothed as the shower ran.

I stood in the shower letting the water run all over my clammy skin. I took some deep breathes. My head pounded as I tried hard to find the ‘trigger’.

I couldn’t find it, I still can’t.

My panic attacks are something that I find very hard to explain.

For instance, I went to London recently because I was invited to become part of the Netflix Stream Team ( you can read more about that over on It’s Me & Ethan facebook page ) . I spent the whole trip feeling self conscious, nervous and fought hard to keep my anxiety under control.

I knew no one there, apart from my excellent travel buddy Sinead ( from Shinners and the brood ) She was great, I’m not sure if she was aware of how hard I was trying to stay in control but if she was aware, she didn’t let on.

Over the years I have learned to hide how anxious I really am at times. I can feel the anxiety build up in me ; sometimes it’s because I’m going to a party, other times it’s because Tesco is busy. There is no rhyme or rhythm to my panic attacks.

Sometimes I know I could have one due to a situation I find myself in , crowded venues, small spaces , busy crowds …

But then sometimes, just sometimes they come when all is calm, in my own home while playing with my sons.

It’s ok to talk about the reality of living with anxiety , stress and panic attacks, I know I am not the only one who lives with these things and that they are, for better or worse, part of who I am.

 

 

 

 

 

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27 comments

  1. Only a few times in my life I had this feeling of anxiety – my cold hands shaking and cold sweat appearing on my skin – I hope it won´t be happening to me in the future again and hope neither to you. It is paralysing.

    1. It is isn’t it Georgiana . There are ways to help cope with it and I suppose this makes us feel we have some form of control over it.
      I hope we don’t experience it again too.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. I suffer from acute anxiety and it absolutely dictates how I live my life. It’s so hard and also so common yet so few people talk about it which can make us feel even more isolated and alone.
    Huge well done for going to the Netflix Stream Team x

    1. Ah thank you lu. Yes it can be so over bearing at times then other times I wouldn’t even think about it. I am sorry to hear you struggle with too, there are so many of us x

  3. What a difficult situation when you don’t want your little ones to see you like that. Your husband sounds like a fantastic man!
    I love reading honest posts like this. I used to suffer from panic attacks and still sometimes get that scary, familiar feeling in my chest. I have found trying to use grounding techniques help.
    Hope you manage to find something to keep it under control a bit.

    1. Thanks Becky. It is indeed quite common to have some form of anxiety / panic, although that doesn’t make it any easier to live with.
      I used to use an elastic band whenever I felt overwhelmed so I wouldn’t get lost in my ‘head’. It worked so well that I stopped carrying a band with me, I may have to revisit that again .
      Thanks for reading .

  4. Im in tears reading this you are so brave so honest and so wonderful to have in my life
    The strength you gave me when Emily was diagnosed was like no other you really have no idea what those 5 hours that Friday morning did for me
    Dave is your biggest supporter he is amazing father and husband
    That’s why ye are together supporting each other in good times and bad

  5. Goodness you really helped me to understand what it’s like to live with anxiety and panic attacks in this post…I can’t imagine how hard it must be to live with panic attacks as a mum x

    1. Thanks Talya for reading. Yes it is hard , sometimes it is easier but then it sneaks up and well, it’s hard. Kids are remarkable they have never noticed, which I am thankful for !

  6. I totally relate to this, I have lived with panic disorder for 21 years now. Up until a year ago I was having around 30 panic attacks a day, it was completely debilitating, CBT really helped me but trips are always tough. Much love. xx

    1. Oh my , that sounds horrific . I am glad CBT has helped you, I too have used that . Just sometimes I forget about all that when the attacks comes without warning but generally CBT is a fantastic tool. Yes trips. I’m telling you, just before I was due to leave , I was trying to talk myslef out of going ! I am glad I didn’t listen to me !!!! Thinking of you x

  7. This is so powerful and I really get how hard it is, but can I just say one thing; your husband sounds amazing. I’m sure you know this already but I don’t think there’s many partners who would be as supportive as this. Sending hugs & hoping things get better soon.

    1. Thanks for reading Ali. Yes my husband is great and knows exactly what to do ; I remember I had such a bad one years ago, trigger by our house fire, but he didn’t know what to do, bless him. All he kept telling was to breath and copy him. He’s much calmer now but his tactic worked, I concentrate on him and his breathing. It’s a simple thing which helps me hugely. X

    1. I’m sorry to hear that Kerry. They are so very common and rarely spoken about. There is no shame in having anxiety or panic attacks . I hope you don’t get them too often, I don’t really but like once in awhile they can be bad, exactly what you said. Thanks so much for reading, mind you x

    1. That’s for sure Jenni, I hope I did a good job explaining it. I am sorry you suffered from them, I hope they have calmed down since. Thank you for reading x

  8. Awww you poor thing, it is easy for most of us to read about it but never truly appreciate how it must be like to live with it. Though I have had a panic attack once I too have no idea what caused it.

    1. Thanks Anosa for reading. Yep, sometimes they can just come out of apparently nowhere. I’m glad you haven’t had one since x

  9. Oh my goodness, I was at that event with you and I had no idea you were feeling like this. You were so composed and wonderful to speak to. I’m so sorry you had a panic attack afterwards, they are awful. Anxiety is awful, but you should be o proud of yourself for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and not letting it stop you from doing things. I’m really glad you had your husband there to help you through your panic attack. It may not be much comfort, but you’ll know more friendly faces at the next event and I look forward to catching up with you again. Sending love. Emma x

    1. Ah thanks Emma, I’m so used to the nervous energy or feelings of anxiety that sit within me that I’ve become quite the expert at hiding and trying to control them.
      It was lovely to meet you too. I’m delighted you had no idea, I was sure everyone knew !

  10. I used to get panic attacks in hospitals or to do with medical issues. It is so hard to describe to someone who has never had one before what they are like but your description is really vivid. I would find myself hyperventilating and going hot and cold. The colour would literally drain out of me and I’d get weird spots in front of my eyes. I fainted a few times in the midst of a panic attack. I have not had one for a few years… but there is always that fear they could come back.

    1. Cathryn , yes that hot and cold is the worst . I’m sorry you had them so severe ; and I too hope that they don’t come back but you are right the fear is always there. Sending you love x

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