Chance of Rain :: The Seven Day Storm {A Panic Attack Story}

I didn’t politely sit down on the couch. I crumbled, face first, weary and defeated, into the nearest cushion.

Didn’t even glance for crumbs. Wouldn’t have minded their indentions.

It was after 9:00 PM, but before 10:00 PM—some hazy in between with over-tired kids; a new kind of witching hour.

My husband had been overseas for over a week and I was weakening—my resolve, my middle, and definitely, my bedtime delegations.

I could still hear the kids upstairs. Totally not asleep. But at least, not my immediate problem.

They always pass out before midnight. I just wanted to lay on this crusty couch in peace. I didn’t have any prettier ambition than that. 

Drip. Drip. Drip.

A noise I couldn’t ignore. Barely audible over the bumps from above. But this dripping was gaining power and as the only adult in the house, the inspection fell to me.

I stood up shaky, straddling delirium and curiosity, trying to find the source of my newest plight. Not completely sure it wasn’t just in my head. 

I ended up in our entryway, directly below the highest part of our house, alongside the stairs.

A huge puddle. 

I glanced up. DEFINITELY water damage showing through the ceiling. And it wasn’t raining.

In a panic, I decided to wake up my poor husband in Prague. Because of course, there are soooo many things he can do from another country. But I wasn’t thinking logically. I was just pissed that something like this was happening while he was away.

As it always does.

But before I even picked up the phone, I ran upstairs and grabbed both kids. Brought them into my room {downstairs, away from the hazard} and told them that they were going to have a slumber party in mama’s room tonight.

Because no matter what this leak turned into, I was NOT leaving them up there so that I could assume horrible things were happening. My anxiety tends to dwell on things like potential dragon attacks and poor party attendance. I didn’t need to add another item to the list.

I called the sound asleep husband. I also called various members of my family. All of them advised me to disconnect the water {we assumed it was a busted pipe} but when that didn’t slow the drip, they thought maybe it was an AC issue and advised me to turn it off.

You might think I am ridiculous. And you are right, I am. But I also live in a different state than any of my family and the majority of my friends and I have serious anxiety issues so back off, Tina.

As I was walking to turn off the AC and start gathering towels, my 3 year old daughter walked over to me from my bedroom, naked booty shaking, asking if I could kindly help her scrub any poop she may have missed.

Please don’t stop reading. It gets better.

I turned off the AC and rushed into the bathroom, anxious to get back to the leak.


This is a superb time to mention that I have a arachnophobia. And I am not exaggerating my fear. I am THAT irrationally scared of spiders. My husband likens my spider spotting screams to that of a banshee. The bigger the spider, the louder, more panicked the scream. Not even human. 

The scream I let loose when I entered that bathroom likely shook the house and caused another rupture somewhere.

Have you ever seen a wolf spider? If you don’t share my same affliction, google that heathen. I refuse to do it for you. 

This wasn’t our first run-in, the gang of wolf spiders and I. But this was the first time I didn’t have my hero of a husband to kill the demon. Why are so many spiders hanging around? Our new house sits in front of a ravine and pretty fantastic forest. Which I am obsessed with.

But the spiders came with it. And we don’t coexist well.

So, I am faced with a huge dripping issue that is slowly spreading with no real end in sight and my LITERAL WORST FEAR. And I know, that I can’t waste time being scared because a) I will NEVER sleep in this house again if the spider is not killed and the killing is not witnessed by my own eyeballs, b) the ocean in my foyer is about to reach the living room, c) the kids are getting crazier by the minute, feeding off of my fear and the fact that we are nearing midnight and they have never seen the world at this time and have questions.

With some kind of strength I wasn’t aware an actual human could showcase, I made my children leave the bathroom area, I sprayed the spider with wasp spray because that was the only thing I could find and I didn’t want to leave the spider unattended for too long–that’s when they plot. And I found a massive old book that I felt could probably squish the thing.

With a lot of screaming, praying, swearing, and my own new war cry, I killed the beast. But I didn’t have long to bask in my bravery. Because then a plane landed on my house.

Or that’s what I thought as a noise so deafening and unwelcome to my ears, poured into my room and immediately made my giggling children surrender their laughter.

I ran to the front of the house. Good news, no more leak. Nightmare news, part of the second story ceiling, and all the soaking wet installation and God knows what else, was now covering the stairs, the upstairs landing {conveniently located right outside my children’s rooms}, and the first floor entryway—where our puddle had once been.

Our AC had overflowed. It had covered the pan and what started out as a slow drip, quickly escalated to Niagara flippin Falls.

A few minutes later, the leaking had stopped. It was past midnight now and I am still waiting for more of the ceiling to crash down on me.

I convince the kids to fall asleep in my bed, far from any of the activity. I perch myself on that same sacred couch I began the night on. My adrenaline is still too high for me to sleep. I guess I eventually do. I wake up in a fit as more of the ceiling tumbles down. My son, standing a few inches from it. 

That happened on Sunday.

My husband returned home the following evening, Monday. I hadn’t told him about the extent of the damage—there was nothing he could do but worry from a plane. He would find out soon enough. I took care of all the dirty work. I put movie after movie after movie on in the living room for the kids so they would give me the peace and time I needed to clean the mess. Five hours, give or take. And the pieces of the ceiling fell two more times after the initial cleaning. But I was running on fumes, my ever-present anxiety overlooked because I had a job to do and to be completely honest, I was still thinking about the freaking spider, wondering if his kin would avenge him.

On Tuesday, we made all the arrangements for people to come and fix the biggest of our issues. I juggled the kids while I took various people into our attic to determine all the ways our house had failed us. 

On Wednesday morning, the itch in the back of my throat started. By that evening, things had escalated and the coughing would keep me up all night. But the day was relatively bland compared to the ones before it. And we had a peaceful day before the second storm hit.

This time, a literal one.

Houston received an onslaught of bad weather and nonstop rain that Thursday. It was almost bedtime and I told my son to go wait for us upstairs {it would be his first night sleeping in his room since the incident} and as he approached the SAME EXACT SPOT where the ceiling had leaked onto the foyer he said, “Ah, mama, there’s still water down here and it’s going into the office.”

My husband, already on the way to read a bedtime story, got to area first and said a few words that I am not allowed to type here.

There were INCHES of water throughout three rooms by the time we found out what was happening. Our beds in the front yard were too high and nothing was draining and all that rainwater had found a way in.

My husband started building trenches with his hands outside to ward off the water. I used every single towel and blanket in the house to attempt to soak up the worst of it.

I didn’t even make it out of the hallway before running out. 

By some miracle, we were able to reach our next door neighbors and asked them if they had a Wet Vac. Not only did they have one, they also had water pumps, industrial-sized fans, humidifiers, a tiger, two bales of hay, and a pogo stick. Basically, everything we would ever need.

Heroes, y’all. And I didn’t even know their last name.

The next day, Friday, was all about clean up. Our office was still being used as storage so now we had to actually unpack (the horror) all the sopping wet boxes and salvage what we could. My cough was worse, I could basically see my headache, and once the first round of fever hit, I called it a day.

Still, I did not sleep.

On Saturday, my husband and children left the house to run around and I attempted to rest. A close friend called to tell me devastating news. I hung up the phone. My tears, silent as they joined the leftover bubbles in my tub.

I had reached my point. 

The dread was building. And I knew what was coming. It just took an entire week to break. 

I’ve faced short bouts of depression before. I know what it looks like. But even when I am aware of why my thoughts are the way they are, I can’t shake the despair. Most days I am a beam of sunlight :: happy, optimistic, silly, in awe of the flowers. 

I think that’s how most people see me. Unless I’ve told them otherwise.

So when the anxiety builds too much or the unwarranted dread appears, I shut down. I go through all the human motions :: I clean, I take care of my children, I reheat leftovers…

But I’m lost. And I need help out of my hole. 

This is also the time when I obsessively post on social media. I don’t know why. It’s mindless and that works for me. 

The following day was Sunday, again. Mother’s Day. A full week had passed since the ceiling caved in and we were moving forward. 

And it was perfect.

Waking up at 10:00. Breakfast in bed. Showered with presents and random sticks tied in ribbon (a toddler’s backyard treasures). And a promise of time to write or read at a place of my choosing.

So, naturally, I had a panic attack. 

I got in my car. I was feeling off. My head, too heavy. 

I couldn’t catch my breath while driving to the coffee shop. Nausea overwhelmed me. I felt like I was losing my mind; my thoughts colliding and jumping and rearing back and screaming.  

My tears were on fire. A burn I welcomed.

My hands, shaking the wheel. My eyes were darting everywhere and I was scaring myself. 

My chest was tight. The piercing, familiar after all these years. 

I parked. I started counting to 10. And then to 100. I took those really deep breaths that the good people tell you about. Finally, I prayed. 

Nothing worked. So, I just stayed in the car and cried. It was okay, I didn’t have the desire to write any way.

After 30 minutes, I turned the car back on and drove. Still too nauseous to even think about consuming coffee. 

I ended up meeting my family at the park. Praying for a spark of joy out of this complete sadness I felt in every pore. Feeling like a horrible person for allowing myself to indulge this pain. Feeling stupid and not strong enough to change any of it. 

And then for the next few days, I didn’t feel anything at all. 

Let me share some of my life with you. 

I have two sensationally wonderful and healthy kids. I married the wittiest, most beautiful man I have ever known. When my house isn’t falling apart or flooding, it’s rather lovely and way too big for our family. I am a stay at home mother, pursuing a career in writing. I am loved. Tremendously so. I have not one, not two, but three amazing {do anything for me} families. And I am surrounded by true, way too good to me, friends. I get to travel. I get to read at my leisure. I get to be weird. I am proud of the person I am. I don’t have many real worries.

I am a very fortunate human. I am aware of this every day. But I suffer from terrible anxiety and sessions of depression. I have had 5 panic attacks in my life. The first in college, during a math final. The last one, recalled in detail, earlier in this post. On Mother’s Day. 

Even though I try to be very vocal about my journey with postpartum anxiety, I’ve always had a feeling that others might not take it too seriously. I also feel like an imposter. Like, my worries, my mental health, don’t deserve the discussion. I can’t help but compare my grief to others—and it simply doesn’t match up. I have no right to feel sad when I have so much goodness in my life. When others, suffer every day, for so many real, heartbreaking troubles.

Sometimes, even after an exceedingly hard battle, I even doubt myself. Was it REALLY that bad? Surely, everyone has worries like this… doesn’t mean it’s anxiety or depression. I’m being dramatic. Do I just want attention—that’s what it will look like. That’s what someone will say. 

Because as the pain and worries disappear, I’m back to just my happy life. And if I can focus on that for long enough—I’ll keep the monsters away and sleep through the night.

Last month was Mental Health Awareness Month. This post would have fit in nicely then. But I wasn’t ready to write it. I barely am today.

But it’s what I do. It’s what helps me. It’s how I make it out of the hole. 

And that’s why you are reading it now. 

Other things that work for me :: I take nightly baths. I read. I take a daily probiotic. I pray. I tell my best friends when I have a bad day. I snuggle. I sit outside as long as I can. I walk without a destination

I guess I wrote this because my first clear thought after the panic had resided was, “This thing that just happened was so bad and scary and I don’t think I should tell anyone because it kind of sounds fake and maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought and…”

It was bad. The days leading up to it were bad. The moments right before, terrifying.

It was real. And it happens to people all the time.

To happy people, fortunate people. Like me.

Doesn’t make it any less horrific. Doesn’t hurt any less.

It took me seven days to cope with all the stress and unexpected issues. And because one thing after another kept showing up :: my husband staying overseas, the ceiling falling, the spider attacking, the house flooding, my friend’s devastating news, getting very sick–I was pushing all worries to the back of my brain and not dealing with anything. Just waiting for the next heartache. Anticipating it. 

One day, not too long after the attack, I woke up better. Much lighter. The fog was gone, even if the worrying wasn’t. 

I wasn’t crushed. I could move. I was hopeful. I was smiling and confident.

I could write again. 

So, I did. Thanks for reading. 


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  1. My favorite line(s): “…my 3 year old daughter walked over to me from my bedroom, naked booty shaking, asking if I could kindly help her scrub any poop she may have missed. Please don’t stop reading. It gets better.”

    You always have a PERFECT way with words. Love it and this post, Britany!


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