It had been a while since I had an anxiety attack. I certainly didn’t expect to have one in the middle of the Dollar Tree…and yet that’s exactly what happened. It was triggered by a crying baby.
Before I get into why I started crying in the middle of the Dollar Tree, I need to give you the back story. I suffered from postpartum depression/anxiety the first year of Donato’s life. He was a colicky baby. He cried at all hours of the day…and my husband and I would try anything and everything to console him. Many times, our efforts were unsuccessful. It didn’t help that Donato didn’t sleep through the night until he was a year old. Thankfully, I recognized the symptoms fairly early on and got the help I needed to navigate motherhood during that dark period.
Once Donato starting sleeping better, the dark clouds were replaced by rainbows. I started to really enjoy motherhood. Now, when we hit a challenging phase with him, I’m able to recognize that “this too shall pass.”
So…there I was in a Dollar Tree with my aunt...shopping for Halloween decorations, when I suddenly heard a baby cry. I could tell from the pitch of the cry that it probably was less than 3-months old. It let out a couple of cries, then stopped…so I went back to putting stuff in my cart. Then, the baby started crying again…only this time, he/she didn’t stop. The cry got more intense…the kind of crying/screaming where you think the baby is going to damage its vocal chords (you know what I mean if you’ve ever heard it).
I froze. My immediate thought was the mother. I felt this overwhelming need to find the mother to make sure she was okay. I pushed my cart through the aisles until I got closer to the cries. Then, I saw her standing in the checkout line. I tried to see her face. I wanted to make sure she wasn’t upset about her baby’s cries (I can’t tell you how many times I left a store while Donato cried like that because I couldn’t handle it). She was handling it like a champ. She was gently “shushing” her baby while rocking the carrier with one hand…and pulling out the credit card to pay with the other. Five minutes later, she was out the door.
I tried to get back to shopping, but I couldn’t. I felt shaky…my heart was racing...and I had tears coming down my face. I found my aunt and told her I needed to leave. She had helped me through that chapter in my life, so she understood why I had been triggered. I, on the other hand, was caught off guard by my reaction. I thought enough time had passed and that I was "over it." But anxiety is sneaky. It creeps up on you when you least expect it…even in the middle of a Dollar Tree.