I couldn’t move.

My mind was screaming to my body, but nothing was happening.

I could feel the hot ice/piercing/tingling sensation rushing up and down my arms and into my neck; I could sense my chest tightening and my head throbbing; I could hear my breaths coming shallowly in and out; but there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

This was every morning now- my new wakeup routine. Life threw us a curveball last month, and as a result, this nightmare was my new normal.

Now, when I say curveball, I don’t mean the pipe burst/car broke down/flight got delayed type of curveball.


This was a curveball that tested my marriage, my faith in God and my will to live.

It forced me to summon a strength I never knew I had, make decisions I never thought I could, and feel pain I never thought I could survive.

It was a big one.

And so now, here I was, on a Tuesday in September, paralyzed in my bed by my daily 5:30am panic attack.

I tried breathing, wringing out my arms, praying- nothing.

I started wondering if this was the one that was going to do me in.

“Mommy?….oh Mooommmyyyy…I’m coming up, it’s time to cuddle….”

I heard Grace’s voice like it was coming through a tunnel, her footsteps growing louder as she clomped up the stairs to my bedroom. I heard the door creak open, felt a flurry of blankets, and then, she was throwing her little arms around my neck.

I could breathe.

I inhaled the scent of her freshly-washed hair as she whispered, “Good morning, Mommy, I missed you while we were sleeping.” I raised one hand to tousle the curls on her head and feel the warmth of her cheeks.

I could move.

I opened my eyes and gazed at her as she stared at me, nose to nose, giggling as she gave me butterfly kisses.

I focused on the beauty.

I focused HARD.

As I lay next to her, exchanging butterfly kisses and plans for the day, I heard more footsteps dancing into the room- in a moment Vince was wrapped around me like a vine, singing, “Good moooorning, Mommy!”

I was surrounded by these beautiful little beings that I had created; these perfect souls that adored me, gave me purpose, and…needed me.

They needed me.

I felt the ice leave my arms and the pounding in my head subside. It was over. It had passed.

For now.

For anyone who doesn’t suffer from anxiety or depression, this may seem a bit dramatic.

For anyone who does suffer from anxiety or depression…this may seem like just another day.

And to you I say this- Look for the beauty.

When the ice fills your arms and legs, focus on warmth.

When the panic fills your mind, focus on simplicity.

I admit that over the past month, I’ve struggled to find beauty in anything, but I never give up until it shows itself.

The morning dew on a rose leaning against my front porch; the way the dogs dance in circles when they see me lifting their leashes off the “All You Need is Love…And A Dog” plaque I found at Pier One the week before we closed on the house; the sight of the creamer mingling with my morning coffee right before I take the first sip.

It’s all proof that life goes on, and it’s worth going on with it.

The way the sunroom glows with the light of the $4 string lights I found at Target this morning, while looking for pants to replace the ones Marty tore in a fit of “I Love You Mom!” excitement last week.

The way my body instinctively relaxes when the last kid is tucked in and Pat is waiting on the couch with my favorite sweet chili tortilla chips and the DVR.

The fact that Marty has been quietly trying to steal the pillow from my lap the entire time I’ve been typing this blog, stopping to bat her eyes at me every so often to “throw me off.”

The tiniest things, the ones that most people overlook- that’s what makes up a life. That’s what refills you when you’re on empty.

That’s the beauty.

Find it, and focus on it.

It will drain the ice, dull the pain, and relax the muscles.

This curveball, we’ll overcome it. It will be a part of my story, but not my whole story. We’ll move forward and heal and move on.

But until then, I will find the beauty wherever and whenever I can, and I will focus on it.

I’ll focus on the smell of dinner in the oven, the softness of freshly-washed sheets, and the security of a little hand slipping into mine as we walk into daycare each morning.

I’ll focus HARD.

And it will get me through.

Don’t ever stop looking for the beauty- it’s there, waiting to be seen, waiting to warm you up, calm you down, and get you through.

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