How did this page come to be?
Well, since February of 2012 I have had a solid stream of panic attacks. In some cases they are Defcon 5. Off the charts and the most terrifying thing I have ever had happen in my life. Otherwise, they are lapping waves in an ocean of anxiety and worry about getting another panic attack.
I have had anxiety as long as I can remember. I thought THAT was bad. I would gladly have those “good old days” back because little did I know, I was in bliss compared to what would come around.
Panic. We know through reading countless things, it is an adrenaline rush. Fight or flight, at the wrong times. We know panic will not kill you. It is simply a chemical reaction to the adrenaline produced when it is not needed. When we are in our right minds, we know this. We can reason everything out.
The heart tests say….the neurology appointment says…the lab work says…and so on. Yet, in those moments that we notice a twitch or a twinge, we are sure its a stroke, heartattack or death knocking on our doors. We look to see how many people are around to help save us. We calculate ambulance travel time and what ER they will take us to. We try to leave the bathroom door unlocked…just incase our families need to save us. Most of all, we are exhausted from it.
I am. I feel I have aged 10-15 years in the last 2 months. This is SO overwhelming that I have no idea at times, if I will get through the day. It has affected my life in every way from work, home, social to my own happiness. Ive wondered if my spouse shouldnt leave me so they can have a chance at a happy life. I have wondered if I should leave since they wont.
Then, I worry they will have THE chat with me. “I cant take this anymore. I cant do this anymore….” which causes me panic. Yet, nothing has been said. Nothing has been hinted just that they understand because they had panic at one time in their lives. Xanix cured it. We have talked about me going on medication but I am holding out. I am medication sensitive and actually, that is what started all of this.
In February I went to a clinic because I was suffering from depression. No panic, some anxiety but mostly depression. It has been a difficult last half of 2011 and I felt it was taking its toll.
I talked with the nurse for over an hour about my symptoms. Again, mentioning occasional panic, usual anxiety but constant depression. I also repeated that I do not like to take medication because I have highly sensitive system and sometimes medication goes bad. She appeared to understand.
She prescribed a “newer” medication that she thought I would have no trouble with. 20mg. Take it on a day off so if I had issues, I would have a day to recoup but she didnt feel I would as its a mild dose.
So, I waited until I had a 3 day weekend. I took it at the start of it. Within 20 minutes, I had a reaction. Dialated pupils, sweating, rapid heart beat, clammy skin, elevated blood pressure (for me), illness, dizziness and the inability to carry on a normal conversation.
I had to go to the ER where they did nothing for me. I was told it had to run its course and that 20 mg of this medication was 2x the normal starting dose for the average non sensitive person. I was basically a mild OD.
Friday – lost
Saturday – lost
Sunday – lost
Monday – lost
Tuesday – still issues but a bit better.
Since then, panic attacks have been regular and very unwelcomed. I had to leave a few work events and left in the middle of one important meeting. If you dont think THAT causes eyebrows to raise….
There are times it takes every ounce of my soul to leave my house. My room….my bed.
I have continually cried that I want my life back. I miss feeling okay. I miss having fun. I miss having fun with my spouse. I miss contentment and fearless moments. I miss the peacefulness of a sunny spring day. I miss being optimistic and NOT making things about me.
I miss going about my day, and simply just being.
I keep thinking that if I cram my schedule so full, it wont happen. Then, I wonder if I have crammed it so full, that it causes it.
I have one full time plus job as a manager. I have 3 part-time jobs and go to school (online) part-time. I have considered donating a kidney to someone that needs it and wondered if this is a lesson I am being taught because I was not a sensitive enough or good enough before all of this..
I think we search for anything that could possibly link our panic.
I avoid (mostly now) sugar, caffene, alcohol, crowds, loud, chaotic, eating too much, eating too little (though, out of the two, the latter is better), anything that makes me uncomfortable like news stories, arguments, negativity of any kind….
The list is endless…endless and growing.
Alcohol was added tonight. I finally started to feel better after all day of panic. I grilled and we started to eat. I thought, should I?
The answer was no. I should not. I am not a drinker and it doesnt take much to have an impact. So, adding any type of dizziness to my life and it emulates the start of a panic attack….and apparently can provoke one.
Now, I feel too full, a violation, I feel a little dizzy, violation and nausious (likely actual anxiety) another violation.
How do we get this to go away? OTHER than medication?
I write. Writing keeps it simmering. Sometimes, it takes it completely away. Sometimes it aggitates it, but mostly, it helps remove it. So, that is how this blog has come to be.
I need an outlet. You dont have to read it. No one does, but at least it is out there. Maybe there is someone suffering, just like me that wants to try to white knuckle it through these panic attacks and perhaps come out the other side. Maybe this will tell them that we are not alone.
One of the biggest things I have found is that my symptoms are COMMON amongst those that have panic.
It can start with a slight wave of dizziness. That causes me pause. While I am pausing, perhaps I feel pain in my chest. Same place, just about every time. Followed by a rush of fear. A heart attack (though, the last few days, it has been fear of a stroke).
Weakness in my body with emphasis in my hands and arms. Like having recovered from the flu after a week and that wobbly feeling you get when you start to move again after being so sick.
I dont generally have the flushing (though I did today) or throat issues.
Same symptoms the majority of the time so you would THINK that I could reason myself out of them, and I have, but the last 24 hours have been horriffic.
Odd because as of late last week, I saw the psychologist and we talked about how well I was doing. He had given me a workbook (I wish I could recall the name because honestly, it has helped. It has charting sheets and the like that make a difference).
We talked about how I was coming along nicely and I had wondered if I shouldnt just tell them “I’ll schedule an appointment as needed, Im good.” I agreed to two weeks. Now, I am wondering if I shouldnt see if they have an opening some time this week…
I have been talking with others that have panic. Stories are alike. Adrenaline can mess with you. It does with them. Similar symptoms, thoughts, worries, fears and reactions.
So, if we KNOW this, then why are we unable to know it and then the panic stops. Why doesnt that knowledge take the power away from the panic and return us to “normal”? Why do we continue to have attacks if we KNOW others suffer the same way?
When I am brought to the point of taking medication, like last night…I feel defeated. I try to take control by refusing to take an entire pill.
I am prescribed adivan. A low dosage. I take 1/4 of that dose because I was told adivan was highly addicting so now, I feel an even greater fight to avoid it because you should have several days between taking doses. You can take it 3 days, but you need to go a week or so before having to take it again. It is that addicting.
I know it works, I know it has low side effects for me, so of course, why wouldnt it be addicting….if it wasnt, I would take that crap every single day.
So, my hope is, that we can unite and work through our panic together. We can support and share with each other, the things that bring our panic about and the things that we find, help aleviate it.
So, let me go there for a minute.
During the throws of a knock down drag out panic attack, a level 8-10 on a 1 through 10 scale – nothing works. Nothing. Well, bawling like a child works but who can just will that to happen? I have noticed that mournful bawling…the type of bawling that comes from a broken soul….rids me of the panic. Not very appealing. Nothing I can control and terribly painful in its own rite not to mention very upsetting for our spouses and children. Those moments, we just have to ride it out and hope its not an all nighter. During those times, I can be driven to take some medication. I did last night. I was worn thin. I was exhausted from the daily fight and I gave in…begrudgingly and only 1/4 of the actual dose.
So what works for a 0-7?
I have an app on my smartphone that plays different soothing sounds. I have found a rain soundbyte that is a nonthreatening (for me, I need to know some catastrophic tornado couldnt come out of this rain).
I lay with my headphones in and I think about being in a world where there is no suffering, no hate, no evil, no accidents, no natural disasters, no man made disasters. During rain, people just hang at home. No one travels. No one can be hurt in an accident because the world just stops and hangs out during the rain.
This gives me the peace to listen to the rain and thunder. For those that live in the Midwest, especially the last few years with such massive weather events, who has been able to ENJOY a thunderstorm?
Well, in this world, I can. I do. I set it on a 4 hour timer and I fall asleep. Hopefully, I will remain asleep. If I do, I wake up in the morning and work on getting up for the day , praying for strength.
I take hot baths. I have learned that I should not read news apps or even surf facebook because my relaxing bath will become a water soaked panic attack. Sometimes I put my headphones in and listen to the rain program, dimming or turning off the bathroom lights and just enjoying the moment. Hoping I can be panic free when I come back out.
I get out of the bath and go to my room, to my bed. My dogs are there and my spouse is there. Sometimes my headphones go back in and I go to sleep. Sometimes, I go back to the bath several times until I am so worn out, I go to sleep.
I try not to let the guilt of my spouse spending SO much time alone to seep into my bath. Because it starts panic. I have guilt because right now, they are alone. My life is about me and I am pretty sick of hearing about me, but I cant seem to fix it right now.
The other thing that works, is that workbook and charting the panic attacks. They were daily, a few times a day. Now its every few days, sometimes a few times a day. I need to remember that, but its hard.
Charting seems to be the off button. Establishing what causes it, establishing the patterns and the symptoms…helped me realize it is the same thing over and over again because until now, I just knew I had dizziness and chest pain.
Tonight I am fighting anxiety and panic. I believe it is from lack of sleep from my many jobs and a neighborhood that is full of loud and disrespectful people who do not care about those of us that do have to work to help support them. I dont mind for those that need it, but I do mind for those that have enough money to drink all night and fight in the wee hours of the morning and then sleep all day as I crawl out of my bed and to my long 12 – 18 hour days, 7 days a week. I resent the hell out of that.
So, they have been very active this week. We have also had a lot of hype about big storms that rolled through last week.
So, it was a roller coaster of worry last week and the start of this week, which is what I think has turned this panic into a disorder.
It started last summer with many things going on at home and work. Many with a threatening nature that would keep me up until 2 or 3 in the morning. Issues with the neighborhood being unsafe, issues with worrying about my family being caught in a crossfire or targeted because we are the one or two quiet ones on the block. Troubles at work with irrate people that I feared would take their displeasure outside of the job. One threat after another culminated by a mild Od in January.
See if this rings true for the start of your panic.
You have a very upsetting event. The event resolves, you start to relax when another very upsetting event happens. It is resolved, you start to relax and then another and another. When there are no actual threats, you start to threaten youself. “I think I am going to be fired”, “I think my spouse wants to leave” and so on. Created threats are just as real as actual threats. It keeps the cycle going. After several months of this, you decide, not real threats are stupid. I am going to stop that. And you actually do. Except, your body does not. Your body is used to that threat. It is now overproducing adrenaline so you have surges of it, just like before, when you thought there were threats all around. You were focused on those threats and resolving them, so you didnt notice you were actually having panic attacks. After all, they were “real” threats. No panic, just an actual event that you SHOULD be keyed up about. Once its resovled, you cant help that another comes up…and another.
So, now, your body is on this loope. Too much adrenaline causes the feeling of a threat, without a threat present. Your mind KNOWS there is no threat so then you start searching for the reason. My chest hurts, my chest is tight and I am dizzy = heart attack = dying = threat. There is my threat. I knew I would find it. I just needed to look really hard.
So, again, we KNOW this, but we can not seem to stop it.
I think its odd that we have medication to cause us to produce seritonin, but nothing to tone down the adrenaline…why! I know adrenaline will save our lives when it is needed but what about those of us that it is driving over the edge?!
I have listed the things I am thankful as a helpful method of coping. A true heartfelt list of things we take for granted every day, does help. Try it.
Its easy to list the things we are not greatful for. Panic for starters so coming up with things that are positive seems to be a bit soothing.
So, what symptoms do you have? What causes them? What things do you do that help? What makes a difference for you?
Have you suffered in the past and now are in remission? I say remission because we never know if it will ever come back. Remission seems more appropriate as typically, it comes from nowhere, so, is it ever truly gone? Only time tells.
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