Unedited Version of an Anxiety Attack

I haven’t had an anxiety attack in about two months. I haven’t really celebrated, truly in fear of evoking one, naturally.

I had almost forgotten what they feel like, until this evening. Until literally right now while I write this.

The overall fear that consumes you is unreal. All I want to do right this very moment is sleep. My body is so tired and I want to shut off my brain or at least push the pause button. Sadly, no, not this evening.

I left my bedroom and came to the living room where I started rushing around trying to find any medium to help me not be so consumed with my thoughts. I grabbed my mermaid coloring book and colored pencils and the pencils were far too dull. That is not going to work. I grabbed Harper’s massive coloring briefcase and found a marker that was thick and useless to me. I then grabbed my phone and started to blog. I haven’t written in quite some time so why not do it now. Well, that is not the total truth. I have written but I just haven’t published. I am working on a few at the moment.

So this right now is raw and real and maybe with one or two typos because of my current state. Perfectionism is not a key at the moment, survival is though.

So what triggered this bastard? A couple of things I think. I have told quite a few people how I haven’t had a panic attack in a bit. So, the karma gods decided to say, well now, let’s change that. I am also so tired. I have had some really horrible dreams the last few nights and have woken up with headaches I think from the lack of sleep. All this insanity is cyclical.

You know what is hard to do when you are feverishly typing away your thoughts? Checking your pulse. Yes, who knew it was hard to check your pulse and continue to type at the same time?! I am trying to skip doing it constantly because it is annoying but also it is slowing me down. However, this is what I do. That is what I do to see where I am at. Is it high? How high? Then the panic ensues.

I am starting to get sleepy now which tends to happen after these because my body gets so worked up. Hoping I can sleep the rest of this off and we dont have a second edition…

The Hardest Part of Motherhood

I was told the birthing process was the hardest. I remember when I was in labor with Harper, the nurse said I needed my sleep because I would be pushing for four hours like most new moms. Umm, excuse me? Say what? That wasn’t actually what I said to her. What I did say was, “you haven’t met me and there is no way in fuck I am pushing for that long.” She laughed. It was a laugh that said, I do this for a living and you know nothing. Whether or not that was true, at the very least, that is what her laugh seemed to say to me. With that being said, you never tell me what I can’t/won’t/shouldn’t do. It instantly becomes a challenge. I pushed for 30 minutes with Harper and for 29 minutes with Camryn. Four hours, my ass.

I was told nursing was the hardest. For both girls, they were naturals. I have been blessed to have nursed both babies until they were each 14 months old. I am not going to lie, nursing was certainly trying at times, especially when you never knew how much milk they were actually getting.

Then there was pumping. It took forever and not to mention, ALL.THE.DAMN.PARTS! Sanitize, steam, wash, rinse, repeat. Not in that order because I am pretty sure that I just said that backwards. Pumping sucked. Period. What sucked even more than pumping was mastitis. Between having mastitis a total of 5 times between both girls, was brutal. However, still not the hardest.

I was told the sleepless nights were the hardest. The kind of nights where you were up all hours nursing, diapering, nursing and more nursing to try and put that sweet baby on some type of schedule. I would walk around most days in an absolute blur while on maternity leave. The days turned to nights and the nights back into day and I wouldn’t have a clue of anything else going on. Scott would come home and ask what I did all day and I wouldn’t be able to respond. What did I do all day? Other than keeping the kid alive, I really haven’t a clue.

When Camryn came into the world I had already had a baby so I was a pro. I was in the been there and done that club. What I wasn’t at all prepared for was the insane mom guilt because I was always leaving one child to suffer. I couldn’t play with Harper while I was nursing Camryn. I wasn’t hyperfocused on Camryn like I was with Harper. The mom guilt was terrible and not to mention, mind numbing. In that moment it was really hard but still not the hardest.

I was told two was the hardest, no wait..or was that three? Or both? Two was tough but three?!? Oh, three was a trying time. That would be a nice way to put it. However, since it’s me that is writing this and I don’t sugar coat anything; it was a fucking disaster most days. Three sucked major, major ass. That was the first time I left my groceries in aisle Main Street (thanks Roche Bros for naming your aisles rather than sticking with numbers) with a mini screaming crazy person in a football hold. I thought about a head lock but that seemed like I would get more stares and glares than I already was getting. And by left the groceries, I mean I wasn’t able to buy food because of said mini screaming crazy person. This age tested my patience every single second of every single day. I was also pregnant with Cam and had such a terrible pregnancy where anything that could go wrong went wrong. But damn, being pregnant and dealing with an asshole threenager was the pits. Now being two full years out of that stage, it wasn’t the hardest.

Now that I have captured your attention, based on all of my infinite parenting wisdom, I will now tell you what the hardest part of motherhood is.

The hardest part is watching your children gain independence and needing you a little less. It is the most incredible thing but also the most gut-wrenching. When you are in the throws of it and doing everything for this little person I can remember the countless times I would say, “I can’t wait for her to be able to (insert whatever task it was). “Momma, I need this. Momma, I need that. Momma, can you open this? Momma, can you tie this? Momma, can you wipe this?” Until they start ‘getting this and getting that’ for themselves, it is actually so hard to sit back and watch these little people you have created become more and more independent.

The last week in August tested my limits of motherhood. My baby started kindergarten that Wednesday. On Thursday, I had to sing to my 1 year old while they put her under general anesthesia for ear tubes and on Friday, my baby who was now a kindergartener also turned 5. The week was such a cluster fuck of emotions, I can’t even begin to tell you. My heart felt like it was ripped out and stomped on multiple times that week.

Someone once told me that ‘the days are long and the years are short’ and I have repeated that saying countless times. It is so very true. I look at my 5 year old and 1 year old and wonder where the years went. I look at old photos and videos of my little chunky, curly-haired, sassy girl and want to hit rewind. I watch my stumbling redhead learning how to walk and think to myself, she was a baby just minutes ago.

So, for me, this is the hardest part of motherhood. I am just sitting here watching them become their own person right before my very eyes. How amazing is it watching them exist in this world and how terrifying at the same time? This is one of the many things that are out of my control and boy, do I hate it. I want my girls to continue with our morning and nightly snuggles. I want to bathe them and then smell their hair when we are done. I want to look into their little eyes and know they are still as innocent as the first day I held them in my arms. I want to giggle all of our cares away when I put them to bed while we talk about our day. I know that one day all of these things will start to fade. For now, all I can do is make sure that I have prepared my girls as best as I could for the world that lies ahead of them.

I do have to ask one thing though, what age should we be confident that they can properly wipe their own ass? I am still not at that age yet. Well, I guess she still needs me for something! Phew.

How quickly summer ends…

I am the crazy person that wishes summer away. It has nothing to do with the heat or the humidity. My job in the summer gets incessantly harder. When I say harder, like quadruple the amount of work and liability.

I have been in the aquatics industry my whole life and summer to me means working on holidays, opening outdoor pools, seeing an insane amount of campers daily, managing over 100 staff and teaching countless hours of swimming lessons. Now don’t get me wrong, I love all of this! Truly, I do. However, it still doesn’t make it easy. So, I count down the days until it all ends. When I get to week 8 of camp I do a little dance in my head. Ok fine, a big fucking dance. However, this year, well this year was quite the opposite. I didn’t want the summer to end.

I didn’t wish any part of summer away. Not one single day. I couldn’t. My life was drastically changing and I didn’t want to accept it. After this summer, my baby girl was headed off to kindergarten and I wasn’t ready. At all.

I have been fortunate enough, for the last four years to have Harper attend the ELC located in the same building as where I work. Every day we commuted together; to and from work/school and it was the greatest. We listened to Sesame Street: The Best of Elmo on repeat; insane amounts of repeat. I would look back in the mirror and see that sassy toddler dancing and jamming out and I never got sick of those 15 songs on constant repeat; ever. We would get to the J and she would see the wacky-wobbly air-filled tubes on the top of the building that sway in the wind and she’d get so excited. When she was one, she called them “the woahs” because she would point and just say, “woah”. The name stuck and we had to say our last goodbye to the woahs this summer. This is the stuff I am going to miss.

In those early years, I would see her teachers and the happy toddlers holding onto that colorful rope and I’d have to hide. I became very good at jumping behind poles or into storage closets so Harper wouldn’t see me and get sad. As the years went on, I could pass her in the halls and get a hug and a kiss without breaking our stride. I would continue on walking to my meeting and she would continue on walking with her class to her next activity. This is the stuff I am going to miss.

Due to her giant personality, her sassy demeanor and her love for people; she knew everyone at the J. She would walk up to anyone and introduce herself and if she really liked you, she would stretch out her hand and walk with you into the building. She would walk by the door to our facilities director and give it a kiss every morning. Continuing down the hall she would see my boss Will (or Wheel when she was two years old) and give him a high-five and take off running to see if her Aunt Audrey was in her office for a snuggle and to play doctor with the printer who moonlighted as an x-ray machine. This is the stuff I am going to miss.

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching her grow up. I love her gazillion questions and her stories. I love seeing her make memories and live her childhood. I do just wish I can keep that toddler twinkle or even that baby stare for just a little while longer. Just keep that innocence a little bit longer. I would not however in a million years want to repeat age three. Never in a million fucking years would I ever repeat the threenager years. EVER. That was absolutely god awful.

Tomorrow, my baby, wakes up a kindergartner. It seems like yesterday that I was just packing for her first day at the ELC and now four years have gone by. I know she is ready. She is more than ready and I am so excited for her. I just can’t get the thought about how hard it will be to let go of her hand and let her fly on her own for the first time.

All of my firsts I have done with Harper. I think that is why I get so choked up just thinking about kindergarten. It will definitely be bittersweet, full of happiness for her and sadness for me. She is strong and sassy, and I am so impressed as I watch her meet new challenges with determination and grace. What an amazing person she is and will continue to be.

So here we are, at this starting line called kindergarten. Where it all begins. If anyone needs me, I will be in the really bright blue Jeep crying my fucking eyes out.

And for the record…. to any school my children attend, I will NEVER be a PTA room parent. Ain’t nobody got time for that, or at least I don’t! Unless of course, I can bring all of the paper goods!

#yearofcalm

I ended 2017 with a blog about my intentions for the New Year and a quote from my pal Buddha which said, “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” I can’t believe it has been over 5 months since I wrote my last blog. I certainly have had my hands full. Not only that, I was struggling with what I wanted to write about. Yup, for five whole months. Talk about a writer’s block. Truth is, I have been going back and forth regarding the topic I am writing about today. It is a topic that I am open about as much as I can be. It is raw, real and hard to write about because of those very factors.

For me, panic attacks have become a new normal. I wish it wasn’t always this way, but sadly, it is. I have been getting panic attacks for over a decade. In the beginning, I just figured I was an overly anxious person who worried about ‘things’. Then those ‘things’ just kept piling up and made me worry more frequently. I could take the smallest feeling of getting a headache and basically convince myself within minutes that it was a tumor and that I was going to die. Nice, huh?

As I sit here writing this and periodically reread my grammar, I can’t help but pause and think how absolutely crazy and insane this all sounds. I mean, how a person can go from a minor ache or pain to literally within seconds feel like the world is caving in on them with their heart racing so fast and thousands of thoughts swirling all around their head seems quite nuts. With my panic attacks, they are mostly associated with something physical. Once the physical sensation happens (a headache, some twitch, a localized pain) it is over. Legit, game over. Game, set, match, OVER. My mind is now fully in control and good luck to me over the next 2 long and grueling hours. You read that correctly, sometimes it takes me 2 hours to fully get rid of my panic attacks.

My panic attacks in the beginning were pretty low key. They used to come and go and I would be able to switch gears and get rid of them fairly quickly. My pregnancy with Camryn drastically changed the frequency and severity of my panic attacks. Over the course of my not-so-wonderful 9-month pregnancy with Cam, I miscarried Camryn’s twin, I had pneumonia, I had the stomach bug, I had to wear a heart monitor for a month due to increased stress levels, my skin burned in three spots from the gel of the heart monitor pads, I had an allergic reaction from the steroid cream I took for the burn that caused me to break out in a full body rash that made me scratch so much I bled and I got a stress fracture during my 8th month and had to be on crutches. YES, all of that shit truly happened. I was a fucking wreck for that entire pregnancy. All of this meant I had to go to the doctors, A LOT. Going to the doctors for me became a norm but for my brain it was a quick trip to panictown. At any moment where I had any sensation in my body, my brain immediately thought “great, here we go with another trip to the doctors”. I would think about my appointment from the minute I woke up until the second it happened. Not just think, obsess is a much better word for it. What will my tests results from my lab work say? Will my blood pressure be normal? Then I became obsessed with checking my heart rate. I used to do it roughly 50 times a day. I wish I could go back to the old days where going to the doctors wasn’t such a big deal, but for me, it is a huge deal.

So what brings all of these crazy ass panic attacks on? It wasn’t until while being pregnant with Camryn that I realized my trigger. It was stress. One would think that this would have been obvious, but to me, it never was. When I am overly stressed, this is how my body tells me that I need to take care of myself better. If I don’t comply, well, off to panictown I go. One way that I started to take care of myself was through meditating.  I began meditating during my pregnancy to the Calm app which was recommended by a friend. Folks, I am serious when I say this, STOP what you are doing and download this app. I used the free version for 10 months and finally bought it after I had Camryn. It was $60 for the entire year and the amount of information, knowledge and support this app has given me is priceless. As I wrote in my last post, I was going to meditate for 30 days. After those 30 days, I was hooked!

I wish that I could say that my go to technique is one specific item like meditating. Truth is, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. There are nights where I have to try four different techniques in order for me to get one to stick that pulls me back to normalcy. That doesn’t mean I have failed. It just means that I was a little deeper in the weeds and I needed to switch it up and use more of my tools. My advice when someone you know is having a panic attack is to listen to what they want to do. Sometimes I want to talk and other times I just want someone to talk to me. When I call my mom to talk me off of a ledge, she becomes a storyteller. She can talk to me about a hair elastic and I wouldn’t care. I just need to listen and get my mind off of what I currently am thinking about. Also, support them in any way you can. Perhaps you can offer to meditate with them or do deep breathing exercises. Panic attacks are real. They are scary and can often leave you feeling helpless. You won’t ever know what a true panic attack feels like unless you have experienced one yourself.  When I tell people that I suffer from panic attacks, most people think I am joking and can’t actually believe it. Just remember, everyone is struggling in life. Everyone has their own set of challenges. Try and recognize the symptoms when you can and be patient. If I could stop my anxiety, I would have done so by now.