Panic at the Pep Parade

Panic illustration
From Ravishly with thanks to Jenni Berrett for her brilliant article on panic attacks.


I was really adulting like a bozza today!

I had my power suit on.

My boots were walking.

I was killing it.

Until, I wasn’t.


Until a pigeon pooped on my pep parade.


A clammy hand fastened its grip around my throat.

Another clenched around my heart.

My breath was stolen by some invisible ghoul.

My eyes began blinking like a possessed strobe light.

I wanted to vomit.

I wanted to cry.

I wanted to curl up and die.


I wanted someone to notice.

To just tell me things were going to be alright.

To just breathe.

That it would pass.

That I had this.


I wanted no-one to notice.

I wanted no-one to see how hard I was pretending.

I wanted to disappear.


And then came the crushing guilt.

Who the hell am I to be anxious, to panic?

I have a wonderful, privileged life.

I have a great job, a wonderful family, a beautiful house.

Who the hell do I think I am?

Millions of people deal with huge stresses every day, make life and death choices.

My husband calmly negotiates multinational deals on top of dealing with all the minutiae of our household – bond payments, school meetings, car repairs and all the other stuff.


I can’t buy groceries.

Let’s put that into perspective.


Living with anxiety is a silent nightmare.

Think Pennywise in every storm drain, around every corner, in every shadow waiting to make you come and play.

It makes no sense.

It is not rational.

It is desperately lonely and isolating.

I whisper over and over, “I am not alone in this. I am not alone.”


So, if you, like me survive living with some form of anxiety or panic disorder, repeat after me: “I am not alone.”


The Marbles and the Elephant

3324_002_Fotor ELLIE

I don’t always lose my marbles, but when I do I lose them all.

Not just the one marble.

Every single marble.

It was EPIC!

They scurry across the floor to hide in every corner and with every step I trip over one and land on my arse.

A pratfall (to fall on one’s buttocks).

Many pratfalls.

I pratfell.


I was handling my shit like a septic tank drainer.

I called paramedics for my mum when she broke her leg.

I took her across country to the hospital.

I packed her bags.

I checked her in.

I got her a pillow.

I finally managed after 12 hours to get her a painkiller.

I took her dog to the dogsitter.


And when I got home…

I saw that I had laddered my stocking.

Cue hysterical laughter.


And when I got ready for bed…

I realised that I had got my period.

Cue a few tears.


And when I got to work in the morning…

I realized I was once more in the wrong place and the wrong time.

Cue total breakdown.


I mean total losing of shit.

No pretty romance novel sniffles this.

Nope. Full on gulping sobs, rivers of snot and rising vomit.

Total and complete eradication of all dignity.

I gave up and went home, took some anxiety meds and slept for 8 hours.


Cue Monday.

I was dreading the walk of shame.


No-one said a thing.

Not a peep.


It’s not like I didn’t just fall apart at the seams scattering marbles (of which I don’t have any to spare at the best of times) all over the faux wood floor.

They just handed me back a few marbles that I had managed to miss and we all carried on like nothing had happened.

Not bad for a girl who thought she might sent off to one of those places where they rehabilitate drug addicts and marble losers.  A girl, who for a few hours in the dead of night, saw being medically boarded as the next event horison.

Me and my invisible pink spotted-elephant just shrugged and got back to work.


Whoever said school days are the happiest days of your life must have been insane. First off because getting up at sparrow’s fart cannot make anyone happy unless they getting up to catch a flight to the Caribbean. Even though my school days are far behind me watching my children suffer the same ignominy has brought back many of the feelings of sheer helplessness and impotence.

The first day of school was survived by all. Just. So it was great to see their friends. Small boy aged 9 got in trouble for missing a choir session on the day I was released from hospital. Not just a stern talking to, but ritual public humiliation. Breaking my child’s spirit for something out of his control fills me with ire. Father went this morning and read them their fortunes.

My school mornings were fraught with panic that I would be late, which I inevitably was. I’d be hauled up in front of the school and “made an example of”. It didn’t matter that I tried to get my mother’s breakfast ready early, pack the car for her and turn on the engine to warm it up. The fact that I didn’t drag her into the car at gunpoint and force her to leave made me a weak and spineless child. As a result (combined with the inevitable horror of swimming lessons) as I watched the clock tick later and later I’d end up throwing up all over her car. I am damned if my children will suffer the same.

Small girl aged 5 has a new teacher. She doesn’t look old enough to drive let alone vote. How weirdly ageist and judgemental I have become. Still, I hope that under those blond bangs and innocent demeanour is a spine of steel. My daughter can sniff out weakness and exploit it in a fraction of a second. She already tried the crocodile tears yesterday and I saw her watching keenly under her lashes to ascertain the reaction. The teacher seems very sweet and hails for Durban. Small girl’s father spent a happy few minutes this morning trying to get her to say “Fush”. He arrived back home energised from the encounter.

Small boy aged 9 didn’t tell anyone about his motorbike because he didn’t think anyone would believe him. Small boy aged 6 seemed to be the only one who took everything in his stride. Thank god for small mercies. The upshot is I arrived home last night exhausted from day 2 at work to find Small girl tearstained and distraught, her oldest brother lying in the bath like a beached whale drowning himself in sulks and small boy aged 6 watching TV in an exhausted state of near coma. Small boy aged 9 had a migraine, my unfortunate legacy, and once happily drugged into sleep took over my kingsize bed. Coupled with books that have to covered (necessitating a trip to Carlos at the Spar for plastic wrap), school lunches and bag packing I ended up dreaming about school all night long.

The sound of the alarm going off in the darkness this morning did not fill me with sweet joy. I took a page from Small girl aged 5’s book and batted my eyelashes at her father who kindly did the school run so I could collapse back into my own bed for one more blessed hour’s sleep. I did achieve one thing yesterday in terms of maternal duty. Small girl aged 5 informed me that she has no desire to follow in my footsteps and go to Roedean, but rather she wants to go with her best friend to Auckland Park Primary. I duly went over and completed an application form that will no doubt go nowhere. The fact that the action was largely futile is irrelevant, at least I can tell her I tried.

My colleague is currently cutting out about two hundred Minnie Mouse’s for her niece’s 1st birthday as well as creating 50 odd colouring in books. The birthday is about 3 weeks time. My son’s birthday was last week and I have yet to even harbour thoughts about the party, which has morphed into an afternoon with some pals riding his bike. Yippee. I can handle that.

Damnation, my boss has given me the evil eye about time sheets again. I guess it time to fire up those creative juices and get imaginative.

Yay! Auckland Park Primary just called to offer Small girl an assessment! Is her happiness worth an extra 45 minute commute? Maybe the boys can take the bus.