Beautiful with a Chance of Panic

This weekend has been so beautiful! The temps have been great, no humidity. It's been picture perfect. I wish that I'd known it was going to be this way a week in advance so I could have reserved a campsite for the weekend. I had hoped to spend Saturday doing a Girls Night Out with a friend, but my anxiety got the better of me. I didn't want to ruin her day, but ended up ruining it anyway. Hopefully next time I can get a better grip on it.

It sounds nothing like it feels. Anxiety attack or panic attack. Panic is a better way to describe it, but when you have nothing to panic about it seems a little ridiculous.

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I've not always had these attacks. It's only been the past few years. I can remember having smaller ones. Not knowing what was going on or why I was even having them. I also remember the one that sent me running to the hospital. It was my birthday 2 years ago. I thought I was dying. Having a heart attack to be specific. I had pain and tightness in my chest. My left arm was hurting and feeling a tightness too. I just knew something bad was going to happen. When I finally got to see a doctor, she told me there was no way at 28, that I was having a heart attack. That I was having an anxiety attack. She sent me home with ten 25mg Xanax and told me to just relax. Her reassurance that I was indeed not having a heart attack did not make me feel better. My grandmother had her first heart attack at 33. The Xanax didn't help either and I spent a week feeling like I was dying before finally, gradually I came out of it.

It happened again a little less than a year later. This time I knew what was going on. I made an appointment to see a general practitioner. They ran a gambit of tests from X-rays to cholesterol. He gave me some acid reflux medicine. A week later I returned, told him that I was having anxiety attacks, not an acid reflux problem. He prescribed me Effexor and Ambien CR. I was confident this was going to make me feel better. I was so far off on that one. This drug was definitely not for me. I couldn't eat or sleep. It had caused my salivary glands to nearly stop functioning altogether. Everything I tried to eat was like unflavored mush in my mouth. It got to the point where I started thinking that everyone would be better off without me. They were supposed to be for anti-anxiety/anti-depression, but they only made me severely depressed. As soon as this happened, I quit taking them. After only 4 days.

My husband consulted with his nurse at work who offered up a alternative solution. A psychologist. I made the appointment. Our first appointment basically consisted of me talking my head off 90 miles a minute for an hour. She asked if I was always like that. Nope I told her, but I immediately felt better. I had told her about the ill effects of the Effexor and how I was really scared to try anything else. She reassured me that was fine with her because she didn't prescribe pills to her patients. She suggested I try a book called "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook". I went right to Barnes & Noble the next day and bought it. It has been the single best thing I have ever done.

Reading through it, I found myself feeling not so alone. I found ways for me to deal with the attacks on my own. While it has been a help, it is not a cure. Thankfully, I've not had an attack as bad as the two I've mentioned since then, but I still have them sometimes. Sometimes I know the reasons, most of the time I do not. They come on out of nowhere. Just the other day, I had to pick up my son from school instead of letting him ride the bus home because he had a dentist appointment. Sitting there in the line, like I've done countless other times before, my heart started pounding. I was cold, but I was sweating. I thought I was going to pass out. There was no reason for it, but there it was. It happened like this when we went on vacation too. I'd been so looking forward to going to Savannah, but once we got there and I walked down the steps to River Street I was sick with anxiety. Literally, I thought I was going to get sick. As soon as we got back to Ashley's car, I was fine. I had been fine on the ride there, at Bonaventure Cemetery, and at Tybee Island. No explanation.

That's what happened to this weekends trip. I felt it coming before it even got here. I know that my friend was looking forward to going, as was I, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't feel that again. It really is a hopeless feeling. I've pulled the workbook back out. I think I need to work on focusing and containing this anxiety again. It's starting to creep back and I don't want it here.

4 comments

  1. unusual to find you post on a Sunday....but very interesting and informative

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  2. Mom - Thanks. It's really been bothering me lately and after having it cause me to not be there for a friend only made it worse. I had to get it out.

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  3. You are very brave for talking about this issue! I know how much you struggle with anxiety. I've seen it firsthand, and I know we've talked about this for the past few weeks on the phone. I don't know what has brought it back around, it's going on about week three, I'd say, so maybe the workbook is the best thing right now. It seemed to really help last time.

    I've had a few attacks myself (also went to the hospital, remember?) and it is one of the single worst feelings someone can have. It is the feeling of impending doom. You honestly feel like you are about to die. I could not believe how my body could just turn it on with no explanation. I've since learned to just start talking myself through it, but it makes it no less embarrassing, or uncomfortable. Especially when you're the one that feels crazy in a crowd of others that are having fun.

    Once I realized what was going on with you in Savannah, I did my best to get you outta there. I know you didn't want to tell me what was really wrong, and that you didn't want to ruin the trip, but our Practical Magic allowed me to see that fear as it crept up in your eyes. I didn't want you to suffer that feeling for one second longer than necessary. Do you remember how fast we hoofed it back to the car? It might be that since I've been there myself, I know how scary it is...

    Or, ya know, that I lurve you, whateves...

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  4. Definitely not fun, I know from experience, too. Hope they pass quickly. Hope they don't come back. It's something you can't help, so don't beat yourself up. Your friends will understand.

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