‘I had a panic attack this morning waking up to my children. Chest pain was the first thing I felt.’

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I’m going to be honest with you. I had a panic attack this morning waking up to my children. My one son is a 3-year-old who hates sleep. I can count on him being in my room between 2 and 5 a.m. every day. If he comes, 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 chest pain. 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 was panicked.

An hour later both children are screaming and fighting. One wants porridge, 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?

Angry toddler eats cereal at table who mother feels stressed
Kayleigh C. Lynds/16 Seasons
Toddler eats oatmeal at counter
Kayleigh C. Lynds/16 Seasons


I haven’t gone to the bathroom yet and I stare at the coffee pot longingly.

My one son runs upstairs with the others’ toy, the chase begins.

E-mail dings. I have a bride interested in my wedding packages but how much would it be to travel to British Columbia and would that be something I am up for? OMG what an amazing opportunity, I’ll just message her back rea…

MOMMMMYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. 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.

Toddler sitting on pile of rocks with stuffed animal tiger
Kayleigh C. Lynds/16 Seasons

5 deep breaths.

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. As I go to read her message back to me…

My 3-year-old escapes out the front door. I had a chain lock on it but they busted it last week.

3-year-old lets all the animals out. The neighbors are having cement poured.

Toddlers smiling in grass who give their mother a hard time
Kayleigh C. Lynds/16 Seasons

I take my kids to get a donut and have a park session thinking a walk and some fresh air will cure this anxiety, and chest pain. The coffee shop is packed and my claustrophobia kicks in. I start taking deep breathes, but each breathe 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 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 labor 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.

Mother who feels stressed out by her kids smiles with her young boys in her lap
Kayleigh C. Lynds/16 Seasons

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 should call 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 feel the need to put my son down, I can barely inhale a breath and…

Now there are several wasps around me and my other son. 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.

Child whose mother had panic attack smiles on play structure
Kayleigh C. Lynds/16 Seasons

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 – Pain, tears…

Mommy… Mommy… Mommy. Is the day over yet?  It’s 11 a.m.

Mother whose children caused her to have panic attack sits on pavement with two toddler boys
Capturing Moments by Shannon Smith

I have generalized anxiety.

I have two children who I love more than anything and a business I have foraged from making my own path to my wildest dreams. Most days, my over thinking will have me at the top of my class in thoughts per minute and common sense. I can analyze situations like nobody’s business and I’m usually two steps ahead of the game.

However, some days I cannot see the positives in this diagnosis, 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 6:30 p.m. as I write this, but it might as well be 1 a.m. I have been in fight or flight mode so long I can no longer judge whether situations are safe or unsafe as I am saturated with fear and panic after 12 hours of this. Thoughts are unfiltered and emotionless. I’m just so tired.

Mother whose kids caused her to have panic attack smiles in selfie
Kayleigh C. Lynds/16 Seasons

As a Mom with anxiety I could write several books on what life is like for me that is different from others who don’t suffer like this. 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. Try to remember while you’re swirling in the tornado, the storm is temporary.

If you can’t see the light, then 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. And 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 you time. YOU are just as important and cannot 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.

Mother whose children gave her a panic attack stands at water park holding one son with other at her side
Kayleigh C. Lynds/16 Seasons

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kayleigh C. Lynds of 16 Seasons photographyin Alberta, Canada. It originally appeared on her blog. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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