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”
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.