Author Archives for Ellen Vandever

About Ellen Vandever

Wife, New mommy, Big geek

What it feels like to have a panic attack

Yesterday started like any other day.

After I woke up, I kissed my husband and baby and gave my dog a little pat. I checked my phone, read my Facebook notifications, and prepared myself for the day ahead.

And then it started…

I could feel my chest starting to hurt…really hurt. It started to become harder and harder to breathe. My palms started to become sweaty and my vision a little blurred.

I knew what was happening. I was having a panic attack.

But that’s pretty par for the course when it comes to me so I didn’t think anything more of it. In my life, anxiety has been an ever-looming presence since I can remember. It’s cost me relationships, goals, and I’ve missed out on more things that I’ve wanted to do than I can say.Β But again…that’s all normal occurrences for me.

This time, though, something was different. For the past few days, I’ve been pushing my anxiety down- trying to forget about it and focus on things that I felt were more important and that needed to be done right away. I let myself push that anxiety down into the depths of my body and hid it away for another time…another day. This, I would come to find out, was the wrong decision.

I was quickly aware that this panic attack was different from the others. It wasn’t one of those times where i’d just cry, roll up in a ball, and call my husband to calm me down.

No. This was not one of those times.

I’ve had what probably equals to thousands of panic attacks in my life, but never before have I felt what I did yesterday. That’s why I wanted to write this blog post.

The purpose of me writing this is to walk you through my experience in a way that makes it easy for those who don’t have anxiety to understand what it feels like when a panic attack is happening. I have had experiences with people who don’t get how anxiety can affect a person. In fact, there have been many people in my life who discount my anxiety for being laziness or me being just plain weird. Today, I’m looking at these people and saying,

“No. I’m not lazy. I’m not crazy. I am affected by something that so many others are who fail to speak up out of fear. Fear that you’ll ridicule them. And fear that they won’t be accepted.”

It ends today.

Yesterday, I was struggling hard to keep it together- to continue working, to take care of my son. Hell, feeding him lunch seemed almost impossible because all I wanted to do was lay down and cry. But, of course, I didn’t have that option. So, instead, I stood in front of my almost one year old son, tearing up his lunch into little pieces while balling my eyes out. His little eyes looked up and me like he was scared- scared of what was happening to mommy. I know, as a one year old, he was just confused. But, in the moment, I was so afraid that he was scared of me.

I finished tearing up a piece of cheese into little bits for him, sat down to eat my own lunch, and felt a wave of anxiety wash over me like a giant ocean tunneling over my body. I couldn’t breath.

My hands turned white as I gripped the kitchen table in front of me- struggling like mad to take a breath. It wasn’t happening. My chest felt as though there was something inside- pushing back and trying to escape.

It felt exactly like when you go running in chilly weather and the cold air gets trapped in your chest. Every breath I took was intense pain. It’s a scary feeling when you need more than anything to breath, but you know every breath you manage to take will be excruciating.

Was I having a heart attack? It certainly felt like I was.

All the while, my son is sitting there eating his little lunch, smiling at me, rocking back and forwarth doing a little dance. He had no idea the sheer terror that his mother was feeling.

Finally, I knew it was time to grab my phone and call someone. My husband answered the phone and I burst into hysterical tears. Immediately, he responded, “I’m on my way!”

I’m an extremely lucky person. I married a man who loves me unconditionally. Even though I have an extreme anxiety disorder, he’s never treated me like I’m any kind of burden. And that’s what it feels like to me- like I’m a HUGE burden to everyone around me.

We managed to quickly get a baby sitter here so that baby Flynn wouldn’t have to go to the hospital with us- I worry about the germs and how he would react having to be there for what i assumed would be a long time (and I was right).

My husband rushed me to the hospital. All the while, I’m sitting in the front seat of our car- shaking, crying, and trying like mad to take a breath that isn’t sharp and incredibly painful.

After waiting in the ER waiting room for a while- all the time trying not to cry in front of all these strangers.

Note: My husband told me to let it out. I mean, I’d never see these people again. But I still felt like I couldn’t. What if they thought I was crazy? What if they ridiculed me and gave me crazy looks? What if they reacted to my panic attack the way so many others have reacted to them in my life? I couldn’t take it. I just couldn’t. Not again.

They brought me back and asked me a ton of questions. The nurses were sweet and concerned about me. They quickly hooked me up to a ton of wires and did an EKG because they were concerned about my heart.

All of that looked fine- thankfully. And now it was time for them to take my blood.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do blood. The word alone makes me feel sick. So, of course, I start to panic even more- completely balling my eyes out.

They gave me some medicine that was meant to calm me down and promised me that they’d give me about half and hour to let it set in before they drew the blood.

Literally…not two minutes later the lady came in with the needles and tubes. My husband was upset with them. He knew this was only going to make things worse. And he was right.

The minute I saw everything, I started shaking even harder and spiraling completely out of control. My husband held my hand as I shook and cried. They took my blood- and moved the needle around so much that it was excruciating.

Then, the meds they gave me kicked in I fell asleep for about two hours. And suddenly…we were in the car.

I couldn’t remember anything that had just happened and it was so frightening. I thought, for a moment, that I must be in a dream. I don’t remember waking up, getting dressed, having the wires taken off of me, or talking to anyone while we were being discharged. To lose time like that when the last thing you remember is being poked with needles and hooked up to machines is a truly scary thing.

After that, we went and got my medicine, went home, and had a very loving and cozy night while trying to feel better.

This experience is one that I will never forget. My anxiety is debilitating and a lot of the time I find myself wondering “Why me?”. But here’s the truth. If not me, it’ll be someone else and they’ll have to experience the sheer torture of a panic attack. So many people do every day and are too scared to reach out to anyone. Some people even kill themselves because they think something is wrong with them and that they aren’t important enough to be helped. The thought of this really makes me sad. Because everyone is important enough to receive help. EVERYONE deserves to feel safe in their own body.

Anxiety feels like the worst is about to happen. It feels like pain shooting through, not only your body, but also your mind too. Panicking feels like you’re one breath away from dying and you’re too scared to tell anyone in case you’re actually just going crazy.

To those who don’t think anxiety is a big deal- guess what? It is. And you’ve never been through it so you don’t have a say in the matter. Done.

Panic attacks don’t have to be anything like the sort of thing I went through either. They can be quiet, they can be internalized, they can be irritableness. They can be so many things and so many people have no idea that this is the truth of the matter.

It is my hope that this article will inspire those of you who suffer from anxiety to come forward and share your stories with others. Inspire other people to speak openly about their panic attacks and let each and every one of us know that it’s ok to seek help.

It’s ok to tell someone when you need help.

It’s ok to take time for yourself if you need it.

It’s NOT ok to tell yourself you’re a burden…because you aren’t. Listen to me when I say this: You can’t possibly be a burden to those who love you when you’re feeling this way. If your body/mind is in distress, that’s more than enough of a reason to feel ok to reach out to someone.

I had someone tell me to suck it up once when I was having a panic attack. It made me feel depressed and annoying. What I should have told them was that they need to suck it up and admit to themselves that they have probably needed help in the past too- but they were just too proud to admit it.

“CourageΒ is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

And I- my body, my mind, my whole being- is more important than the fear I feel telling everyone that I need help.

And, you know what, YOUR health is more important than the fear too.

To those with anxiety,

Don’t let anyone else tell you how you should be feeling. If something feels off and you can’t seem to nail down what it is- you aren’t going crazy. Your mind and body are working to tell you something. It’s ok to reach out when you need help.

It’s ok to be vulnerable because that’s the only way we get stronger.Β 

Lot’s of love to you all,

Ellen

 

 

 

 

 

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Anxiety Chat: That Overwhelming Sense Of Dread

Should I publish this? Gosh…I really don’t know. It feels like something really personal, ya know? But at the same time, I feel like a lot of people out there must feel this way too, and maybe some of them feel alone. At least I have a great support system to lean on. I can’t imagine having to feel this way if I were on my own. I’m lucky that I don’t have to.

So…I see a therapist. I don’t think there is any shame in that. In fact, I think everyone should have a therapist. Honestly, there is nothing huge going on in my life right now that is negative. In fact, everything is really happy and I’m content right now. However, I still have this horrible sense of dread that fills me up sometimes.

I’ve been getting these feelings since I was very young. Like, about as far back as I can remember. The only difference is, I know there is something I can do about these awful feelings now and I didn’t know that was possible as a child. I don’t think it was anyone’s fault, either. I mean, as a child I could never put into words what was happening to me when dread seemed to take over my mind. I could also never form the language to describe that I was having a panic attack or why I needed to be in a quiet place for a moment. It’s really hard to have anxiety attacks, and I think it’s even worse for kids when if they can’t understand that those kinds of feelings aren’t necessary. Here is a video that came across my newsfeed on Facebook. I think it’s important for everyone to watch it so that they know the signs to look for in kids that have high anxiety.

Lately, my therapist and I have been discussing those overwhelming dread feelings. We have talked about how I am robbing myself of my full happiness by being so stuck in the mindset where I automatically go to the worst place possible in all situations. It dawned on me in the middle of something she said…

*DING!* A lightbulb went off.

It’s so obvious why I’m so terrified of losing everything. I hadn’t been able to place why I had so much random fear for seemingly no reason. It’s because this is the happiest i’ve ever been in my life and I’m so afraid of that going away. I’m afraid of going backwards. I’m afraid if those horrible panic attacks and feelings of “what’s wrong with me?” that I had in school.

I am afraid something terrible is going to happen to ruin my happiness and the people around me who are happy too.

I am so afraid of the worst that I forget to enjoy the good that’s happening. Hell, I just bought a house, the GREAT that’s happening.

I’ve really done some thinking about this for the last few days now and It’s starting to become easier to accept that bad things are going to happen, but I can’t let them stand in the way of me being happy now. It’s sometimes really hard to grasp that for me. However, I know that when I really get into that mindset, I feel a whole lot better. So…I’m trying me best to go with this way of thinking.

I once saw a quote that really resonated with me. It said, “If I prepare for the worst then I won’t get hurt.” That rang so true for me. I always feel like if I prepare myself mentally for bad things to happen then they won’t be as bad. And, by doing this, I’m robbing myself of peace now.

The point of this blog? To remind those out there that those feelings of dread are a sign of you pulling yourself down for no reason. See your doctor and talk about how you can improve how you feel but also take away the idea that you’re going to change your way of thinking.

You can’t let these feelings overpower you. Acceptance is key here. If something bad happens, you’ll get through it the best that you can, but worrying won’t make it any easier to deal with. So, why not enjoy the now and deal with the bad IF it actually comes along. Chances are, it won’t as much as you were expecting it to. And if it does for some reason, then it does. Right?

Don’t let anxiety run your life. Take charge of it and show it who’s boss. Instead of hiding from the feelings, address them- literally talk to yourself out loud if that’s what it takes. The important thing is that you feel better and that you take the time to appreciate what you have while you have it.

For my birthday, my sister sent me a little cloth bag that says, “Life is tough my darling, but so are you.” Whenever I find myself struggling to get through a difficult moment, I remember that little phrase and it really helps me. I hope it does the same for you, or that you can find a quote or phrase that speaks to you in that way.

For now, I’ll end the blog here because I feel like I have gotten some things off my chest that I’ve been wanting to say now for a while. I’ll also leave you on a high note and show you an adorable picture of my husband playing with our son from outside the window. ❀

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Aren’t they too cute?!

Questions:

What are some ways you deal with your anxiety?

Do you have a therapist?

What are your favorite quotes?

Ellen πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

Update: 10 Month Old Baby & 27 Year Old Me

WOW! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve been able to sit down and write for my OWN blog. I’ve been working a lot (which i’m so happy about), but there hasn’t been much time to come here and be with all of you. I’m so grateful that I have some free time this morning (after getting a chunk of work done) to catch you all up on what’s been going on in my life!

First off, I’m sorry I haven’t been able to write these past two weeks. As you know if you’ve read my previous blogs, WE JUST BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOUSE! What what!!! We are so thrilled and grateful for everyone who has helped us reach this point in our lives. I’m sitting in my new living room right now and it already feels like home.

My husband and I were talking about how crazy it is that all the rentals we’ve ever moved into took a while to feel like home, but this place just automatically screams our names! I guess that’s the difference between renting and owning…for us anyway.

Some wonderful things happened while I’ve been MIA! My favorite you ask? Well, my sweet little boy turned 10 months old! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! I swear the time flys by faster when you are watching someone grow up each and every day. It’s so strange to see him changing little by little, but it’s also a lot of fun too!

Isn’t he just the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen in your life? He’s such a good baby too! And i’m not just saying that. He has the sweetest temperament. I just know he’s going to be a great man one day!

Baby Flynn loves bathtime (still), is eating what mommy and daddy eat now (and had his first bites of spaghetti), thinks our dog’s barking is hilarious, can say mamma, dada, and night night very clearly, is pulling up and trying to walk already, and just moved into his new bedroom!

YUUUM! Needless to say, he went straight into the bath after he was finished eating. He’s just like his daddy…pasta is the nectar of the Gods.

I also hit a little milestone in my life. I turned 27 on March 8th which just happened to be moving day! What a fun birthday present for me, right?

I took a shameless birthday selfie and posted it on my instagram. You can follow me @ellenvandever if you want to see more updates from me and my little family!

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Do you notice all the moving crap in the background….yeah…our house is pretty much a mess right now. But it’ll get there. If you know me, you’ll know how very hard it is for me to function properly when things aren’t in their place or organized. Hopefully we can remedy all of that very soon…or I might just lose my mind.

This was my birthday lunch. It’s a little known fact but calories don’t actually count on your birthday! πŸ˜› Not a healthy food in sight…don’t worry…I got right back on my diet once my birthday was over.

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I guess diet isn’t really the word I should be using. Healthy lifestyle is better. πŸ™‚ But honestly, who can live without a little mac and cheese and mashed potatoes every once in a while. I am a Southern girl after all.

I also got some really cute birthday presents to help decorate my home. The shelves went up and the knick knacks came out!

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I just love that sign. I think i’ll do a separate post on what I got for my birthday. My amazing family and friends got me some awesome things and I can’t wait to share them all with you! Everyone seriously hit the nail on the head!

After all the moving…it was time for some self care. I opted for a Freeman avocado and oatmeal mask which is SERIOUSLY AMAZING! I loved the feeling of it and it left my face feeling so soft. I think this is my new favorite face mask. You can get it here if you want to check it out for yourself! I also found the cutest bath bomb you ever did see! Plus, the green tea smell was AMAZING!

I know some of your were curious about what colors we’re painting our walls. How about I give you a little sneak peak? This is baby bird’s play room!

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I took that picture before the paint was dry so it looks a lot less blotchy now. Everyone who goes in that room says that it’s so calming and peaceful. I love light blue- it’s one of my favorite colors.

Speaking of painting…I painted some really cute Moana themed shoes for our real estate agent’s granddaughter last week! I wanted to be able to do something nice for them since they helped us out so much!

What do you think? I’m considering putting them on my Etsy shop!

Maui:

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Moana:

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I’m really happy with how they turned out! I hate to toot my own horn but…toot toot! πŸ˜›

Before I go, I’ll leave you with some more adorable pictures I took this week of sweet baby Flynn!

I just can’t get enough of that kid. He’s literally growing up right before my eyes! Being a mother is truly an amazing gift!

I hold him at night while I’m rocking him to sleep and thank my lucky stars that I’m his mama. ❀

Well, that’s it from me! Now that things have calmed down a bit, i’ll be back to writing on a normal schedule again. Thank you all for sticking with me through this transition!

Questions for you:

  1. Do you like renting or owning better?

2. What paint colors did you pick for your home?

3. What’s your favorite self care item?

Talk to you all soon!

Ellen πŸ™‚

We Bought A House!

Welcome back to my little corner of the internet! Remember when I said I had an exciting announcement coming up? No…I’m not pregnant. πŸ˜›

As you can probably tell from the title of this blog post…WE BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOME!

This process was a bit of a whirlwind. We started off thinking it would be easy and quickly learned that was not how it was going to work. Luckily, we had the BEST real estate agents in the world!

You can check out Stephanie and Jim here. They weren’t even in our area but helped us out SO much! They went absolutely above and beyond the call of duty and are even throwing us a housewarming party!

Talk about amazing real estate agents, right?!

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We feel so amazingly lucky to have worked with everyone that helped us buy our dream home. There are no words to express how truly grateful we are. Our mortgage team worked day and night to help us and they never stopped even when things got a bit complicated.

Eventually, when all the painting and furniture in is the house, I’ll do a house tour. For now, I want to show you some of the photos I took during the inspection (one of the most nervous times of my life! lol)

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Here are the first pictures of us after we officially bought the house!

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Now, all that’s left to do is pick out paint colors! How do you like our choices? Any guesses as to where they are going in the house?

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More on our new home soon! I can’t wait to give you all a house tour when everything is ready!

Questions for you:

1.) How was your first home buying experience?

2.) Any tips on painting your house? I know not to go with dark colors because it makes the room look smaller.

More updates soon!

Ellen πŸ™‚

 

Favorite Vegan Blueberry Muffins!

I’ve recently been trying a lot of vegan recipes and I am amazed out how great they have tasted! A lot of people hear vegan and are immediately turned off. The truth is, vegan can be delicious! This is especially true when it comes to sweet treats! Check out my favorite vegan blueberry muffins!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar or artificial sweetener

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup soy milk

1/4 cup oil

1 cup blueberries

Sprinkle of chocolate chips (optional)

Combine all ingredients and evenly distribute into 6 muffins tins. Top with chocolate chips if you choose. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cooked completely through.

And there it is! I made a batch of these the other day and they were gone sooner than I care to admit. Let me know if you try this recipe and how you like them!

Exciting news coming up this weekend!

Ellen πŸ™‚

5 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging

I’ve been blogging on and off for years now. I’ve had several blogs and a lot of opportunity to speak my mind. Even though i’ve had one blog or another in the last several years, I still consider myself to be a novice. I know a few tricks of the trade, but I’m still learning. And there are ALWAYS new things to be learned (especially when it comes to being a successful blogger) Sometimes I’ll read other blogger’s articles on how to have successful blogs and I find it really helpful. Sometimes…I find it not so helpful. I didn’t want to write a generic list so I’m speaking from the heart. Here’s 5 things i’ve learned about blogging for other like-minded people who want to grow their blogs.

Β You need to do your own thing

Blogging is EXTREMELY competitive in the sense that there are so many of us trying to share the same recipes and become a go-to for our respective audiences.Β  It can be hard nowadays to get your blog shared with new people. This is why it’s so important to be uniquely you! Everyone is cranking out articles that they think others will want to see. Sure, you want to appeal to your audience, but you don’t want to give up your style and personality in the process. I almost didn’t write this blog because I was worried I’d be contradicting myself. However, I think this will really help a lot of people and it’s something that I’ve found very interesting of late. I’m amazed at how much more successful bloggers are when they stay themselves instead of putting up a front. Let your hair down…be YOU! Who cares what others are doing? Somewhere out there is someone who will like your blog just because you’re an awesomesauce and bloggerific! Ugh…I’m such a dork. πŸ˜›

It makes everything more excitingΒ Β 

Before I started blogging, I would sit on my couch all day doing nothing (I mean…I still do somethings because I’m human). Now, I actively try and get up and do something interesting so that I have something fun to write about and a memory that I’ll love to read about in the future! Now, a trip to the store to pick up discounted cupcake decorations is something fun I can photograph and share with you guys! Now, I can remember exactly what my son is like a 9 months old. I can’t wait to look back on my life and remember everything so clearly. In the meantime, I’m going keep living exciting adventures and writing about how much fun we’re having!

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Blogging helps people

I know this from my own experience. I read a lot of blogs and there have been so many that have helped me through hard times. Not just that, they have been with me through happy times too, and have provided me with a lot of entertainment. Bloggers share their worlds with you and open their hearts to their readers. Sometimes, that can really touch a person and speak to them on a personal level. I’ve been reading some blogs on anxiety and it’s really incredible how much better it makes me feel knowing that I’m not the only one who’s going through those sorts of things. Blogger also helps the blogger! It provides stress release and a way to express yourself. I know, for me, it’s helped me get past a lot of things and feel like my slate has been wiped clean. I love blogging- it’s so therapeutic!

Read one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers here.

It’s a bit of a puzzle

Using the right keywords, tags, and topics…

Writing content that’s perfect for your niche…

Connecting with people in the most efficient way…

SEO…

Looking at stats and figuring out what works and what doesn’t…

These are all things that make up the puzzle of blogging. And you know what?! It’s actually REALLY FUN!

You know sometimes you do a task and afterward you feel really accomplished? That’s how blogging makes me feel. It’s fun to figure out what you guys like to read and seeing where you all come from! It makes me heart happy. ❀ πŸ™‚

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It connects you with some awesome people

There are a few people who have left comments and have followed me on my social media sites. I LOVE getting to chat with those people and seeing more about their lives. Blogging is really a chance to meet new friends and connections that will last a lifetime. Isn’t it amazing that we have a chance to share our lives with the world, and people respond and send their love? I thinks that’s a really incredible thing.

This week’s questions:

  • What do you love/hate about blogging?
  • What’s your niche?
  • How do you connect with other bloggers/readers?

~Ellen πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panic Attack On Valentine’s Day

Hi everyone! So sorry I didn’t post on Wednesday! We have a lot going on here in our little nest! More on all the exciting things we’re doing in future blog posts…

So, I look forward to Valentine’s day every single year. Every since I was little, I’ve always loved Valentine’s day!

I know what you’re probably thinking, “It’s because you HAVE someone!”

So not true! While I do love to celebrate my relationship with my husband, I also love Valentine’s day for other reasons.

Isn’t it a wonderful thing that we can have a day where we celebrate love? Sure, love should be a part of your daily lives, but I think it’s nice to have a day where we take a step back and acknowledge everything we have.

You could celebrate a relationship with a significant other, your relationship with your parents, your love for your fur-babies, or just that love in general exists. Plus, everything is pink, red, white, and just all around pretty which I love! I’m such a girly girl…

I used to love making my own Valentine’s mailbox at school and getting cards and candy from my classmates. I took picking my own Valentine’s very seriously, and I still do today as an almost 27 year old woman. BECAUSE I’M AN ADULT…THAT’S WHY!

This is beside the point, but it’s something that I always want to say around Valentine’s day when all the haters come out.

I wanted to write this post to share with you what happened to me on Valentine’s day and how our evening ended up in the end.

Like I said, I always look forward to February 14th. So, naturally, I had really been excited since it was coming up!

We took a Valentine’s Day picture before my husband went to work that day.

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Can you tell we’re tired? Flynn is cutting two teeth right now and waking up a lot in the middle of the night.

On Valentine’s Day…you get Valentine’s toast.

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If you’re a fan of The Office, you’ll like my Valentine to Zack…

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So do I, Pam…So do I.

Anyway, the day was going well and I was so excited for going out that night! We were planning on going to the Valentine’s Cabaret that my husband’s students were putting on. However, things didn’t go as planned…

After work that day, I started feeling kind of anxious. I instantly knew that this was going to be bad.

It happened like it always does: heart starts beating faster, cold sweats, feeling nauseous…

And there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I breathed in and out trying to make it go away, but I just couldn’t stop the inevitable.

Panic attacks are horrible and they happen sometimes for no reason. I had friends going to this party and had to text everyone (including our babysitter) that the night was a no-go.

My husband was really understanding and we ended up having a wonderful evening. Actually, everyone was really understanding. I really love that more people are starting to take mental health seriously now.

We watched Gilmore girls, drank some hot chocolate, and got one of our favorite dinners!

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YUM! right?!

Even though I was feeling bad, we ended up having a really nice night as a family.

Zack had a very “dad life” moment at one point. πŸ˜›

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We even had some fancy chocolate covered strawberries!

This point of this blog is to remind you that panic attacks don’t have to ruin all the fun. Sometimes they make you change your plans, but don’t let that ruin anything for you. Pick yourself back up and find a way to get through it.

Would I have loved to have done our original plans? Of course! But the important thing is that I can say my Valentine’s Day wasn’t ruined by my panic attack.

You can let them consume you or you can work through them. The choice is yours.

Ellen πŸ™‚

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