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Something new: I had a panic attack yesterday.
I mentioned in my last post that I was having some high/higher anxiety levels. I didn't say much, so a brief overview.
A few months ago, 3 or 4 maybe, I was doing some reading about dyslexia in a book on neurological disorders. Because I am chronically incapable of not finishing a book, I read the whole thing, not just the dyslexia part. At some point, I realized in the chapter on anxiety disorders that they were writing about me! I worry about bad things happening all the time! I have major anxiety about people/social situations, food, disasters, societal breakdown, plague/superflu/etc, nuclear fallout, accidents in the home, accidents while driving, dying, my children dying/being kidnapped/being sexually assaulted/sold into slavery/prostitution/etc... you name it, I'm worrying about it. Probably at this very moment.
But here's the part that really got me- there might actually be something diagnosably wrong (and therefore treatable!!) with me! That was an exciting idea!
I had always thought that this was something I was "doing" to myself- that I could stop it if I just tried hard enough. That I was choosing to do it. But when I read that chapter, I went to the computer and read some more. I took an inordinate number of free surveys (so many that I began to see duplicates, and stopped)- All indicated that I had moderate to severe anxiety symptoms, and that I should seek professional help, because these sorts of symptoms generally escalate.
So up until yesterday, I was still busy trying to process the possibility of actually telling someone that I thought I might have an anxiety disorder. Because see, the thought of actually telling someone made me more anxious. Very anxious. Much too anxious to pick up the phone and call someone. Even if I had, how could I get the words out? What if they said, "Just don't worry!" I sometimes voice my worries (the ones I think sound least crazy, I keep the ones I know sound certifiably insane to myself), and people have told me "just not to" worry. And in my head I'd think, "HOW!? TELL ME HOW TO STOP AND I WILL!!!"
So yesterday, I walked around nauseus all day. I did some weird "I'm very anxious" things that I do. I kept feeling fluttering sensations in my chest and each time it happened I thought, "Wow, maybe I should really, really consider talking to the doctor about the anxiety disorder possibility again." I made it through the day, got the kids tucked into bed, and started watching tv. (I now know that nausea, heightened anxiety, and heart fluttery feelings can precede a panic attack- I did some more reading today, too.)
I was just sitting, crocheting, and all of a sudden I felt reeeeeeeeally weird. I felt like... sort of dizzy, like I might pass out, but it passed in just a fleeting second. And I thought, wow, I must be really tired, I need to go to bed. I kept crocheting for another few minutes, and all of a sudden it hit me- "OMG, what if I'm not just tired? If something happened to me & H (my husband) isn't here, my kids don't know how to dial 911! I got a new phone, it has a "slide to unlock" and I haven't explained how to work it to any of them yet!" And then, picturing my poor children sitting sobbing, screaming, staring at my dead body unable to call anyone for help until my husband came home, the dizzy/floaty/fainty feeling happened again, much stronger, and then my heart SLAMMED into overdrive.
My heart has NEVER beat like that. I feel like it lasted forever, but was actually quite short. I thought "Maybe I'm having a heart attack," and put my hand up to feel my pulse. My left arm felt ok, my chest didn't really hurt, I could still talk (my husband was home at this point, and I was talking to him as this was happening)... And as I was trying to decide if I should have him call 911, it started to ebb. As it ebbed, I didn't feel as frightened & my heart slowed some- I realized I had read about these symptoms, and that I'd just experienced a panic attack. I decided to wait until morning, and call my own doctor instead of heading to the ER.
I spent the next couple hours lying in bed with H holding me, trying to control my shaking (which I could tell was freaking him out- shaking after a panic attack is very common). I was afraid to sleep in case it happened again and I died- my husband leaves early in the morning, and I didn't want my kids to wake up with me dead and not be able to call for help. So I made him promise to stay home and make me call the doctor in the morning, and went to sleep.
I woke up still feeling scared, but sort of better. I was (am) desperately afraid it will happen again- I can't possibly describe to you the level of fear that occurrs with a panic attack. I called my doctor first thing, and managed to get in a little over an hour later (very lucky!). I had my husband drive me, which was good, because a few minutes into our drive I started feeling like I might have another panic attack. As I sat in the waiting room, I got the dizzy floaty feeling- the more I freak out about it, the more it feels like I might have one. So I sat trying to take deep breaths and will away the attack, and that was about when she walked in.
It actually worked out well- I'm glad I was a complete basket case while I was there talking with her, because she got to see the actual symptoms that are occurring. It isn't just in my head. It's actually a great comfort to me to know that. I didn't have a full blown panic attack, but just about. I was... hysterical.
I'm now taking some herbs, some homeopathic remedies, and have a prescription for (generic) Xanax. I go back in a month. I took a Xanax (I almost had another attack while waiting for my prescription), and promptly came home and slept for two hours, so I'm not sure how feasible that's going to be if it knocks me out like that...
We'll see. I suspect this is just the beginning of a long process. :(
Anybody got anxiety disorder/panic attack stories to share? Or just commiserate? I'm pretty freaked out. I really can't believe this is happening. :/