When Child Play Triggers Intrusive Thoughts

***Trigger Lifeline-English-454x500warning: If you are feeling fragile or struggling, this post might be triggering.  I talk about intrusive thoughts.***

It was a lazy weekend afternoon.  My daughters decided to build forts.  They were crawling around with blankets over their head. The girls laughed and yelled all around me.  It was a picture perfect moment of innocent childhood play until my anxiety started to suffocate me.  All of a sudden, I felt that overwhelming sense of panic and dread.  I made them stop, and I called my husband in for reinforcements.  I could hardly articulate to my girls why I needed them to stop right away.

How do you tell your sweet girls that putting things over their heads is a major trigger for you?  I whispered to my husband how triggering this was for me.  I got out that all I could picture was my sweet babies with bags, pillows or blankets over their heads.  I had strangled them with my own hands.  Those thoughts came racing to the forefront of my mind again.  The siren call of anxiety sounded again.  I looked at my sweet girls who were laughing and dancing around me.  I reiterated my mantra to myself.  You are okay.  Your husband is okay.  Your girls are okay.  Everyone is home and safe.

I used all my coping techniques. I breathed deeply. I kept repeating to myself that this was just my intrusive thoughts. I held my books and my phone to ground myself in what was tangible and real. The physical symptoms of a panic attack continued their assault on me.  I ended up laying down and continuing to do deep breathing.  Panic attacks exhaust me physically and mentally.  I literally feel like I have run and escaped from a bogeyman who is chasing me.  It takes me at least fifteen to twenty minutes for the physical symptoms to abate.  I also used my anxiety medication to help dull that rising tide of panic.  I finally was able to relax and enjoy the rest of my lazy weekend day.  I know that I am not my thoughts, and that is a mantra that I use when I am triggered by a resurgence of my intrusive thoughts.  It is rare that those intrusive thoughts appear anymore.  I continue to make my health a priority by getting enough sleep, eating well, and practicing other forms of self-care like yoga, singing, dancing and journaling.


About tranquilamama

Juggling parenthood, housework and working outside the home in the corporate world with my wonderful husband. Mom to 2 beautiful girls. PPD and PPA survivor. The title of my blog is after a phrase that was repeated to me in Spain during my semester abroad in college. It roughly translates to relax and calm down. Trying to tame my inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom.
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6 Responses to When Child Play Triggers Intrusive Thoughts

  1. Laura says:

    Oh what an awful thing to have to experience. Great that you were able to use all the tools you’ve learned to work through it, but still NO FUN. So perplexing these intrusive thoughts… just today I was driving home from work and there was a man painting or something on the side of the road. One minute I was wondering what he was doing, and then I has picturing myself intentionally hitting him with my car. It passed pretty quickly and I was, fortunately, not rattled to much by it. But it does make me wonder – where the hell does this stuff come from???

    • I read the book that Karen Kleiman wrote called: Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts. I feel like motherhood threw my anxiety into overdrive. I imagine my car crashing into people or pedestrians all the time. I get them when I am really stressed, tired, or emotionally vulnerable. It is like my brain acts up.

  2. I still get them. Sometimes when the girls are in the bath. Sometimes when we’re in the car. Thank you for writing about it here so I can feel a little less alone.

  3. jess says:

    That’s a scary thing to happen. I’m so glad that you were able to have him nearby to help you. And that you asked for help right away. Love to you!

  4. Thanks Jess. I am so glad that my husband was right there as well. I love how completely he understands me and gets me.

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