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The Panicked Parent

I’m going to be straight up 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. everyday.

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? Also,





I haven’t gone to the washroom 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 B.C 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 favourite one.

5 deep breathes.

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 solice. 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 neighbours are having cement poured.

I take my kids to get a donut and 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 times 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 labour 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.

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 breathe 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.

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






Is the day over yet?

It’s 11 a.m.

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 can not see the positives in this diagnoses, 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 as I write this, but it might as well be 1 a.m. I have been in flight and fight 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.

As a Mom with anxiety I could write several books on what life is like for me that is different from others. 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.

If your today was exactly like mine, just know that the best thing is, tomorrow is a new day and this feeling will pass.

Tomorrow your anxiety may do great things for you! Like:

1. Keep your insurance low. People with anxiety often are in less accidents because we are constantly trying to survive.

2. Keep you from getting scammed. Someone with anxiety can see the loopholes in a scammer almost instantly.

3. Be great conversationalists. We are quick thinkers!

4. Be an amazing detective! Whether on the hunt for the perfect car or sleuthing for your bestie, someone with anxiety can deduce several facts as quick as a computer as well as find creative ways to research what they need.

5. Make you grateful. Someone with anxiety knows the worst outcome of every situation, and often times it is us you will find breathing out the most sighs of relief. Everyday is a good day when the fear of doom doesn’t actuate, am I right?

6. Make you an amazing risk taker! When your brain has somehow fear mongered you into thinking the outside is a death trap, even walking outside can feel like climbing a mountain. Someone with anxiety is always over coming a fear one way or another. Especially parents! Every single time we “allow” our kids out of our sight, we are over coming our greatest fears, so bravo and encore!

7. Make you quick on your feet. Maybe you do something for work that requires you to be a quick decision maker, or maybe you have two active preschoolers like I do. Either way, anxiety is going to make your reaction times as quick as a cheetahs! Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it will for sure feel like it. I can not tell you how many times I’ve heard “Wow, great catch!” or “Whoa, save of the day!”

Try to remember while you’re swirling in the tornado that the storm is temporary.

If you can’t see the light than 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 can not 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. <3

Children and family photo:

Twirling Red Dress Photo:

Cherry Blossom Photo: www.brittaniamberphotography

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Karen Santos
Karen Santos
Mar 14, 2019

Your story really resonates with mine. Years of non-stop gogogo, stress and not taking care of myself led to my nervous breakdown. Now my doctor has prescribed me antidepressant, antianxiety meds and sleeping pills. Everyday is a journey but I believe I am slowly healing with God’s help, my husband and my children. We, mothers are amazing people, we can give and give and give until we have almost nothing left. But we have to remember to take care of ourselves, like you said, we can’t pour from an empty cup. Lots of love to all who are going through this❤️


I really cannot wait to catch up with you after reading this. I found this very cathartic to read, as I have been learning to live with anxiety since I was about 13. It can be a blessing and a curse, and every day it makes me learn something new about myself.

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