This past week, I had a full-blown panic attack.

Those around me tried their best to make sure I was OK, but the problem is that unless you’re living with anxiety, it’s so hard to understand how it works. To understand how it feels.

As a mother, who works from home while homeschooling my kindergartener, I feel the pressure more than ever. The pressure to always be on. The pressure to balance everything while plastering a fake smile across my face and responding, “I’m OK,” when asked how I’m doing. 

Well, I’m not always OK. Not every day.

I often get asked to describe what a panic attack feels like or how my anxiety presents itself. So, I finally sat down, allowed myself to be vulnerable, and I came up with this explanation.

It’s real. It’s raw. It’s terrifying. And it’s so incredibly freeing. 

Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I close my eyes and imagine myself standing in the dead center of a vast, frozen lake—the ice delicate and fragile.

RELATED: Battling the Beast Named Anxiety

The reality of my situation slowly begins to seep into the crevices of my subconscious, planting seeds that threaten to grow and destroy everything like toxic weeds overtaking a rusty garden trellis.

Knowing I need to get safely to the shoreto comfort and warmthI begin to take slow, deliberate steps.

Gingerly picking up each foot and moving it ahead of the other.

One after another.

Carefully, and with precise control.

It’s just walking. I do it every day. It’s a familiar movement.

Yet, with each step, I feel the relentless pressure begin to build within my chest.

I feel the weeds curling and tightening their hold on any shred of rational thought I have left.

Despite the cold, my skin is on fire, anticipating the worst case scenario.

Step by step.

I can do this.

I’ll be OK.

I’m so close.

RELATED: My Name is Anxiety and I Want All of You

With a deep exhale, I set my foot down cautiously upon the icy illusion and suddenly . . . 

Crack.

It’s such a subtle sound I almost don’t notice it at first, but it’s loud enough to render every muscle, every breath, every fiber of my being useless.

It’s followed by a more resounding crack as the ice below me splinters in a million different directions.

Just like that.

My body freezes in time.

I lose control.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t move.

But my thoughts release and flood my subconscious—questioning and analyzing each and every step I took.

Could I have gone slower?

Should I have taken a different path?

How can I possibly ever make it to shore now?

It’s as if time has stopped and although I can feel the bite of the wind upon my cheek, I am completely numb.

RELATED: Through the Doubt of Anxiety, God is Faithful

Across the shore, I hear someone shouting my name.

It’s faint at first, and it seems like it takes forever to register in my mind, but the sound gives me hope.

It’s familiar and reassuring.

I feel the blood begin to pump through my veins again, and suddenly, I can breathe.

I can feel the warmth begin to return to my body, and the weeds release their persistent grip on my sanity.

I look down at my feet, and I see a rope lying across the shattered ice.

A rope I know leads to safety.

To love.

To strength.

And to a way out.

As I reach down and grab ahold of the rope, I look ahead and focus on taking those first few steps towards that beautiful voice that pulled me out of my darkest place.

Tears stream down my face with each step, for as I get closer, I can clearly see the figure standing along the shore of the lake, and I realize that all along, the voice belonged to me.

This is my anxiety.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Mari Ebert

My name is Mari Ebert, and I am a full-time teacher, a mama of two, a wife, and a blogger. My passion is writing, and my hope is to share my experiences with other mamas, and embrace all of the hot mess moments along with the super mom moments because we all have to be a little bit of both to survive the crazy journey of motherhood. 

I’m a Mom Who Reads and is Raising Readers

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom with infant daughter on bed, reading a book, color photo

Since childhood, I’ve been lost in a world of books. My first true memory of falling in love with a book was when my mom read aloud Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With each voice she used, I fell deep into the world of imagination, and I’ve never seemed to come up for air. My reading journey has ebbed and flowed as my life has gone through different seasons, but I’ve always seemed to carry a book with me wherever I went. When I entered motherhood and gave my whole life over to my kids, I needed something that...

Keep Reading

You Have to Feel before You Can Heal

In: Living
Depressed woman in bed

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.” -Cheryl Strayed How do you heal? You let the pain pass through you. You feel your feelings....

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed Other Mothers

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Two mom friends smiling at each other

I read somewhere the other day that when a child is born, a parent is too. In my first few months being a mother, I’m learning just how odd that sentiment is. In an instant, I became someone new. Not only that, but I became part of a group I didn’t realize existed. That sounds wrong. Of course, mothers existed. But this community of mothers? I had no idea. It took us a long time to get where we are today. Throughout our journey with infertility, I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mother. I knew that...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

Please Don’t Tell a Couple Trying to Conceive to Just Relax

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Black-and-white photo of medical supplies

This is a plea. A plea to those who know someone who is struggling with infertility. So, if you’re reading this, this is directed right to you. Please, for the love of everything, when someone tells you they are struggling to conceive, do not tell them to “just relax.” I know it’s the cliche, default term most blurt out because they don’t know what else to say. It’s awkward to discuss for some. I’m 10000% positive it is coming from a good place and is meant to be calming and reassuring, and you really do believe it’s true because a...

Keep Reading

My Husband Having a Stroke at 30 Wasn’t in Our Plans

In: Faith, Living
Husband and wife, selfie, color photo

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) This verse in the book of Jeremiah has long been a favorite of mine. In fact, it’s felt relevant across many life events. Its simple, yet powerful reminder has been a place of solace, perhaps even a way to maintain equilibrium when I’ve felt my world spinning a bit out of control. In this season of starting fresh and new year intentions, I find great comfort in knowing...

Keep Reading

That Mom at the Playground Could Become Your Best Friend

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Young mother sitting on bench looking at playground

I didn’t realize I was that mom at the playground. That mom who always smiles at the other moms even if she doesn’t know them. That mom who often makes small talk while she pushes her toddler on the swings. That mom who strikes up a conversation while sitting on the bench watching her older kid play. That mom who can often tell whether you are interested in talking to her or not. And if you don’t seem interested, that’s okay. Because maybe you’re preoccupied with other things going on in your life right now. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with the...

Keep Reading

The Shattering Grief of Suicide

In: Grief, Living, Loss
Sad person sitting in darkened hallway, black and white image

Navigating through my second Christmas without my dad, the weight of grief seemed even heavier this year. In fact, everything felt and looked different to me. As I unwrapped the ornaments and cards he gave me over the years, a tidal wave of madness and sadness engulfed me. I know many feel sadness and grieve during these times, but let me just say . . . suicide is a different type of grief. My vibrant, happy, physically fit dad committed suicide on April 30th, 2022. There, I said it. In the aftermath, a myriad of emotions consumed me. One perplexing...

Keep Reading

“I Can’t Do This Anymore,” He Said—Then Everything Changed

In: Living, Marriage
Woman with head in hands

The questions are very much valid. Did I know when I married him? Did I know when we struggled with infertility and trying to become parents? Did I know when we unexpectedly became pregnant with our second child? When did you know your husband was an alcoholic? The answer is simple yet so complex, I pretty much knew from the first year, yet I was in complete denial. When I met him, he was just my type—a bad boy with a bad reputation, yet so cute! On our third date or so, I saw how much he could drink and how...

Keep Reading

Mean Girls Aren’t Like the Ones You See In Movies

In: Friendship
Woman whispering in another woman's ear

Mean girls aren’t like Regina George. If they were, it would be easy to know to stay away from them. Not all mean girls are wealthy, image-conscious, stick-thin blondes. They also don’t always have the reputation of being “mean girls.” The problem is that mean girls are way worse than Regina George because they don’t look like mean girls. Mean girls can be your “friends.” Mean girls know how to gain and betray your trust. They are the girls who, on a rough day, ask you what’s going on not because they care about you, but so they can have...

Keep Reading