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Living with Panic Disorder - Ashley Bryan's view

Life is hard. Everyday has its challenges. Throw a family into the mix and it can feel impossible to keep up. One day you wake up, or maybe you have been struggling for a long time, and there is an overwhelming feeling of doom, dread and panic. It’s time to take control and live successfully with anxiety. I promise you, it IS possible.

You are NOT alone.

My Anxiety and Panic: Why did it happen to me and why it can happen to you too.

July 5th, I thought I was dying. I sat in my office at work, just moments after clocking in and all of the sudden, the walls were closing in. I was sweaty, my heart was pounding, my blood pressure was on the rise, I was shaking uncontrollably and I couldn’t take a deep breath to save my life. A quick ambulance ride later, I was informed I was having a panic attack.

Why? I was a regular Mom and wife who was just trying to juggle the full time job that I had recently been promoted to, homework, soccer practices, dinner, bath times, daycare parties, play dates, making educational time for my kids as well as leisure time. Don’t forget they need to get to doctor’s appointments and need me to get to “Breakfast with Buddies” at school once a month. Oh and because my husband is an overnight worker, it’s me and only me. (Please don’t overthink that one. The sacrifice on his part is much greater; I’m just pointing out, there is no additional assistance with the regular family stuff) On top of all that don’t forget they can’t have too much screen time, I need “Me time” and we all need 8 hours of sleep plus a balanced breakfast...see where I am going with this? It’s never ending! I wasn’t giving my body time to rest so now my body was going to force me to take time to setting off every alarm it could. My first panic attack.

How many of you feel like there are too many things to do and not enough hours to do them?

How many of you lose sleep or at least peace of mind over it? How many of you feel like parenting in today's world is unreasonable and just fucking hard no matter what way you look at it? I see you. I am you. Let me tell you something...we are all killing ourselves trying to meet the expectations we have and we severely need to reevaluate our priorities.

Where it went wrong and...

I went about things the hard way. I went to outpatient psychiatric treatment for a month to learn how to manage my anxiety and how to figure out what the hell was causing it. Want to know what it came down to? If I didn’t accomplish one thing in a day, I was instantly a failure. No one else thought this. There was just this never ending record on repeat in my brain saying “You are a failure. You didn’t even fold laundry today. Your husband is going to divorce you and your kids are going to be embarrassed and you’re going to lose your job and it’s all because you are a failure who can’t do enough”.

AND seemed to be the magic word. It got me into this predicament “I can do it’s only work and soccer and dinner and the kids want to go to the library.” Then it turned on me “You forgot to send that email today and you didn’t get the dishes washed and how can you make your family happy if you can’t handle a couple things?”

Now, and is saving me. “I didn’t get the floor mopped today and my family still loves me because I spent time with them instead.” “I forgot to fold that laundry and it can get done this weekend. The world is not ending.”

Your family can’t be the priority if you aren’t a priority

Okay so here is where we figure this out. As parents we start to feel guilty when we can’t do it all. Guess what, it took professionals telling me that it was okay that I didn’t do it all for me to finally breathe!

MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY! It isn’t just okay. IT IS NECESSARY! We can’t keep filling everyone else’s cup and not replenish ours. It doesn’t need to cost anything. Or you can treat yourself to the most luxurious massages. You can take a walk in the woods. Start running. Shower! I used to picture Wonder Woman’s golden lasso being spun through my body, starting from the top and making its way to my feet, the golden glow banishing negative, anxious thoughts and feelings from my body.

Go to Lotus Wellness Center for some Reiki and Guided Meditation. Find a drum circle close by. Even if you aren’t into holistic health, I promise you beating on a drum will start to get your emotions in line. Don’t have one close by? YOUTUBE!!!!! I started playing sleep meditation playlists on my phone while I slept. When Jaime and Donna at Lotus Wellness Center started offering their free Guided Meditation, I joined. Took me to a whole different level. I have crystals and oils and I am not afraid to use them. I do yoga in my backyard. My one splurge was a yoga trapeze that I hang from the tree in my backyard so I can go vertical and be in the sunshine and it makes me ridiculously happy.

So what does this have to do with the family aspect? My kids and my husband get a better version of me. I’m no longer short tempered angry Mom. I got my patience back. I enjoy my kids again. Sometimes they complain when I shut the bedroom door and do a couple minutes of meditation but I have made sure I remind them. It’s as simple as “Hey remember when I took you to the library this afternoon? Now I am asking you to give me a couple minutes. As soon as I am done, we can read that book together”. And guess what? The laundry still causes me anxiety, but now I have these amazing coping skills.

I made myself a priority again because I deserved it and so does my family. I will always have anxiety and panic attacks. I will still have bad days. I just know how to live with them successfully now. My husband knows my signs now too and is much more attuned to when I might be having one or need him to scurry the kids out of the room to give me time to breathe it out. My life is mine again and it feels amazing.

I love feeling like Ashley again!

Pictured Above (R): Ashley is a mother of two; soon to be 3 girls! Her and her husband have been married for 8 wonderful years. She loves paddle boarding, the beach and anything that gives her time in the sun! Since her diagnoses in 2019, she has been on a new path to find her authentic self and is spreading the word to others about the importance of not losing yourself in today’s world, especially to her daughters.

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