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Courage in the Midst of Panic Attacks

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

By Jenni Borcherding

God's Brave Women - Jenni's Story

I began pacing and could hardly catch my breath. The walls in my living room seemed to be slowly caving in on me. My heart was racing, and I felt like I had no control over my body. Impending doom surrounded me. I had never felt this way before. I didn’t realize until later that this feeling had a name. Panic attack.

The events leading up to this point seemed trivial. In all honesty, my response was disproportionate to the actual situation. I had received an email from school that lice was found on one of my daughter’s classmates. A right of passage for any parent. Therefore, I diligently searched my daughter’s hair. Repeatedly, searches returned empty. One day, I saw three little white round objects glistening in the sunlight streaming through the window. Dread came over my body. I assumed the worst. Lice eggs. Therefore, I began the regime of tearing apart the house. Overturning every clothed object, vacuuming, laundry. Repeat. Combing through my daughter's hair diligently every evening. Daily head checks for the whole family. I had begun a crusade against these little intruders. I tried suffocating the lice with olive oil and a shower cap. Then I tried the lotion and blow dryer method. How did my daughter have any hair left after this regime?!?! After my husband had searched my hair, he declared that there was a white nit residing on my own head. Emotions of my own juvenile battle against these buggers flooded into my memory. I could smell the permethrin with the mere mention of it. Are you itching yet? The intensity of disgust of my own body flooded over me. I couldn’t sleep. I could only battle around the clock. I was going to defeat every last critter that was invading our family!

While this was all happening, I had a darling three-month old baby boy to care for. He was a sweet bystander in the midst of my frenzied activity. He nursed and sat by patiently as nit combs, daily head checks and a variety of hair treatments cycled through our family. After almost a two-week battle, I began searching the internet. I felt like I was losing. I was losing sleep for sure, but also losing the battle against these intruders. I needed something more. I found a lice clinic an hour and a half away. I told my husband that I was going. He could tell that I was about to break. I needed something or someone to end this battle. Professionals. I packed up the car and drove to the clinic. The patient gentleman thoroughly combed my hair. My skin was crawling the entire time. He paused for a moment, he had found something. I was delighted and terrified. He had the evidence in his comb. He put the little white “nit” under the light. “Is this what you have been removing from your hair?” he asked kindly. “Yes” I exclaimed!” excited to get the treatment underway. “These are not nits. These are what we call hair casts. They are a part of the hair growth process. You just have a lot of them.” “Hair casts?” I questioned. I had upturned my life to rid myself of something that my body naturally produced. I was relieved. And a bit embarrassed. I had expended a tremendous amount of energy over something I thought was lice. I thanked him for his time and purchased a few “lice prevention” sprays to ease my mind. We packed up and returned home.

That night is when it hit. I woke up in a flurry of physical activity. How had I upturned my life for nothing? I felt so foolish. I began to question my instincts. I felt stupid. If I missed the mark on having lice, causing worry and unrest to consume my household, how would I handle more serious matters to face our family? Could I be trusted? Could I handle it? I had faced much more serious battles without this kind of response. What was wrong with me? I was overwhelmed.