‘I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE.’ I was in fight or flight WHERE I least expected it. I felt so small.’: Woman shares details of anxiety attack, ‘I ENCOURAGE people to get help’

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“I’m at home right now, curled up in bed next to my three year old. It’s nap time, and I should probably try to sleep. But instead, I am staring at the ceiling fan, crying. My mascara is all over my pillow, but I can’t think about that.

Because all I can think about right now is this hole punched in my heart today, by absolutely nobody.

I am on the crashed-out side of an anxiety attack.

And ‘attack’ is the perfect word, because just like a lion in the grass, this d*mn thing snuck up on me and pounced when I least expected it.

WHERE I least expected it.

I felt safe. I was filling my cup. I was a gazelle at the watering hole.

And the watering hole was my church.

It was the most unexpected thing in the most unexpected place, and I was utterly and entirely unable to defend myself.

One moment I was singing in the praise band, worshiping God. He felt so big and so in charge of it all.

And the next thing I know, I am feeling so incredibly small. And surrounded. And the buzzing voices of all the people I love in my congregation sounded like a million bees, and just like that my heart was a drum. My palms started sweating. And the only thing I could hear in my brain over the sound of my friendly pastor’s sermon was:


So I snuck out. I texted the praise band leader, ‘Sorry, I just couldn’t finish the job today.’

‘I have a headache.’

Which was true. But not the entire truth.

It’s not that I needed to lie to him. He’s a friend, and mental health is not a topic my church stigmatizes.

But the truth is, until I grabbed my baby out of the nursery, sprinted out to the minivan, and escaped the parking lot like I was fleeing war zone, it wasn’t quite clear to me what the heck was happening.

I was full on Fight or Flight. I was fleeing the lion I thought was in a building.

Except the lion is in my head.

And this infuriates me, and devastates me, because I ENCOURAGE people to get help. I ENCOURAGE people to seek professionals out when something is up with their mental health.

But I’m not the one who actually needs to do so, right?

But, oh. Crap.

Maybe I am?

In the hollow exhausted sadness which is the tail-end of an anxiety attack, staring at the ceiling fan with tears running down my face, I sent a text to my counselor.

‘Hey, it’s time for me to come back in.’

So, tomorrow, I have an appointment. Because this mama can’t run a household if she’s constantly being attacked. I can’t let the voices of my children become the bees in my head.

Tomorrow I take a step toward restoration, whatever it may look like this time.

And why do I share this?

Because I want you to see in the middle of hilarious viral videos and adorable pictures and heartfelt, little statuses, there is a woman who can break.

Occasionally, she does.

We all can.

And the most important thing in the world is we talk about this. Without judgement.

This week, I am going to get away from my lions. But there are other mamas who don’t know how.

Well, I am swallowing my pride and showing you the first step.

Watch me. This is it.

Admit to brokenness and seek the help you need.

I know. As simple as that sounds, it can be the hardest thing in the world sometimes.

Can’t it?”

Courtesy of Mary Katherine Backstrom

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Katherine Backstrom. Mary’s book Mom Babble: The Messy Truth about Motherhood is available here. Follow Mary on Instagram here.  Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best stories here.

Read more stories from Mary:

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‘Mommy?’ she whispered. ‘Why wasn’t Daddy wearing his superhero mask?’ My heart fell into my stomach. I knew where this was leading.’: Mom says ‘our babies never had to question our superpowers until now’

‘If I ever catch someone in my newsfeed talking about doctors being ‘bought by big pharma’ again I’ll shoot lasers from my eyes.’: Woman defends healthcare workers. ‘Remember that they showed up, every day’

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