Thursday morning last week I woke up at 4am in a panic. We had shipped powerOne version 3 to Apple the day before, it was the first time in months I could stop and assess what was going on. And at 4am my world was collapsing.

Sales have slipped. Six months ago we were a top 10 finance category iPad app and then we were a 10-15 ranked app. And then we weren’t the top selling financial calculator app, bested for a day here by a hideously ugly copy of an HP 10b and another day by the HP 12c itself. Our ratings had dropped for a week, into the low 20s then into the high 20s and then into the low 30s. (iPhone stayed steady but when panicking details like this don’t matter.)

It wasn’t like I didn’t see this coming. A couple of our key competitors released iPad versions recently and it had an impact. This wasn’t new but on this day I still couldn’t stop the anxiety.

And then a new product we are releasing next week, a project I couldn’t be prouder of, went into review and stayed there for 12 hours, 18 hours, 24 hours and counting. I never had an app in review that long. My brain went nuts. They were going to reject it! What did we do wrong? What was I going to do to get it approved before Wednesday? Who was I going to beg and plead with because I didn’t want to call two multi-billion dollar companies we developed this with and tell them we can’t launch?

And of course, my brain snowballed from there. The sales will never recover! We are doomed! I’ve never going to get to work on my new project I am so desperate to complete! Our apps suck anyway! There are going to be a million bugs to fix in the new releases and I’m traveling for a week! And the sales are never going to recover anyway! I’m going to have to get a job! My family will have to move! We will be living on the streets! We won’t have anything to eat!

I was gone. My brain was fried. And at 4am last Thursday morning all I could do was lay on the couch and read a book. I couldn’t sleep because every time I shut my eyes the panic returned.

I don’t do that often. Once when I was 19 I went through one of these and I never thought I’d see the other end. I’m a ridiculously rational person and hate being driven by emotion. And all last Thursday was was raw emotion, frazzled and exhausted.

20 years later at least I know better. The stress always subsides, the anxiety always goes away. The key is to just put one foot in front of the other. So I wrote documentation and made my calls and had my Thursday meetings. To most I was a duck on the water: calm as can be on the surface but paddling furiously underneath.

I didn’t sleep well Thursday night, either. No big surprise. But Friday was better. Again, 4am. But this time our category position recovered some and our sales recovered some. By Friday I could remember that we have an amazing revision coming plus three new revenue streams, all in the next week or so. I dove into my new project, feeling creative and refreshed after a forced hiatus from our new product, and got a ton done before the sun rose. And before lunch the app that sat in review for over 40 hours was approved.

The stress is there — we need to get the revenues up — but the excitement about the new opportunities returned.

Of course I still won’t sleep. I’m too excited!