Apocalyptic Brain: My Response to Hawaii’s False Alarm

I have what I call an “apocalyptic brain.”

The first time I realized that’s what it was when I was on my way to pick my babies up from daycare.

At the time, my daughter was eight months old and my son had just turned two. And because he had just turned two, he was moved to the “twos room” all the way on the other side of the daycare building.

So there I was, waiting at the red light to turn toward the daycare, and suddenly I was lost…

Tumbling down into this pit of chaos and confusion. Darkness all around and when I opened my eyes, there was pandemonium.

In my mind, a bomb had just went off, reducing half the city to ashes, and I had mere moments to get to the daycare. But once there, which direction do I choose? With both babies at either end of the building, how do I pick which child to go after first? What if something happens to one while I’m rescuing the other? Where will we go from there? Stay put or run?? How do I save my husband? Or do I trust he’ll find us? What if we never see each other again and something happens to me?? Who will make sure my babies are safe???

It wasn’t until a horn blared behind me that I realized the light had turned green. My knuckles screamed in protest as I pried my fingers from the steering wheel and turned into the daycare. Everyone safe. Everyone sound…well, almost everyone…

I consider myself (more-or-less) a logical person but even now, writing this piece, I can feel my chest tightening. Yes, I know the scene that played out wasn’t real, but in that moment? In that moment, it was everything and my inability to quickly find a safe solution has stayed with me ever since.

While I have since implemented various strategies and coping mechanisms to help me work through this anxiety, I awoke on Saturday January 13th to find myself once again being threatened by the chaos.

In case you’ve been living under a rock – which, uh, can I join you?? – Hawaii inadvertently sent a message out via its emergency alert system that a ballistic missile threat was inbound and residents were told to seek immediate shelter. Luckily it was a false alarm, but the fallout from it is far from over…

In the 24 hours that have followed, my newsfeed has been overtaken by stories of Hawaiian mothers and the panic they felt and articles on what people went through as they prepared to try and survive. I can already hear some of you telling me, “Well just stay off social media, Amber!” but that’s far easier said than done when it’s my job. When was the last time you tried going with social media for a day?

I know I shouldn’t read the stories, but my apocalyptic brain needs to know what happened, to absorb the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” of it all.

Then my primal brain jumps in and tries to allay my fears, to pretend that this isn’t an actual threat. That we’re not at risk for nuclear war. That we’re not lead by a man-child who uses Twitter to threaten other supposed leaders.

But honestly it’s my logical brain that continues to win out. I recognize that while an apocalypse probably isn’t looming (despite what my mother says), the chance of a war has become a very real possibility. All we can do is prepare and live our best lives possible, because frankly we can’t know how we’ll react in a situation such as this one. Sure, we could let our brains run away, send us into an anxious world of chaos, or we could choose to keep moving forward.

“Prepare for the worst, but expect the best”, right?

Yes, we have supplies in our basement should the worst happen. And yes, I’ll continue to plead “joke” with my Canadian friends about adopting me. But in the meantime, we’ll continue to live our lives and strive to do better. To volunteer more with our children. To be civically engaged. And to trust that this country will eventually be the brilliant land of freedom its so often thought to be.

Don't let the anxiety, fear, or anger win out. Continue to be the best, most kind person YOU can be and teach your children to do the same.Click To Tweet

Believe it’ll get better from here and maybe together we’ll make it so.

If you live with anxiety as a mom or have what I call

2 Comments

  • Wells Reply

    “We are now condemned to live in exciting times. Boredom is, quite clearly, underrated.” — Shadi Hamid

  • Jess Reply

    We call my mother the “Worst Case Scenario” mom. We couldn’t so much as swing from a branch without hearing about the multiple ways form this tiny action we may meet our ultimate demise. Final Destination had nothing on my mom. It’s hard to turn that off when it was what you were raised living, so to fight I find myself warring emotionally between panic and apathy throughout my many days. My biggest hurtles as a mom, my biggest stressors exist 100% in my own hypothetical reality. :/ Power on my friend, power on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *