>What it's like to live with anxiety and panic attacks - my perspective

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"L" Is For LoserImage by drp via Flickr

There are strange things I do when I'm feeling anxious.

To do lists. Contact lists. Every list you can think of, I'm updating and organizing and checking it off. It helps me feel in control when I feel like everything is spiraling down. I'm all about organization and... I hate to admit it... I tend to get anorexic. Not on purpose, but it's like I lose my appetite, my stomach stays upset, I throw up, etc. and it makes it impossible to eat hardly anything. So I take multi-vitamins. I drink and eat the most nutrition packed stuff I can manage to get down so I can combat the toll it takes on my health.

And so it goes, on and on until I'm dragging myself out of bed each day fighting back the inevitable breakdown.

It's lost me jobs. Good jobs. It's lost me relationships. Good relationships.

I live my life in fear. I may control it and do ok for a while, but it comes.

So I take medication. Paxil was my first saving grace. Paxil CR was the best but it was a little bit too much the best I think... it was the most likely to make me go on a manic crash. I thought my problem was my depression, and my depression was what made for all the panic attacks and meltdowns and just straight out nervousness and anxiousness. On Paxil I at least felt better, and my social anxiety went down. But I still worried about everything else. I would list and plan and control myself out of existance... and crash. The stuff stopped working, I would repeatedly quit taking it because of this.

I went through quite a few abusive relationships. I don't think this helps. I also have a history of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I don't think that helps either. And my mom has been diagnosed with everything from Bipolar Disorder to Panic Disorder to Anxiety Disorder to PTSD to Borderline Personality Disorder. So yeah, it was tough growing up. She went to the hospital a lot and I didn't understand why. She did a lot of things to me and I didn't understand why she did them. I understand now. Now I'm trying to make sure my son doesn't witness half of the things I witnessed.

Next was Paxil and Abilify, through the recommendation of a doctor that believed I may have Bipolar Disorder. Abilify zombified me. I walked around like a robot. I felt like a robot. I quit taking it and went to the local behavioral health clinic.

They diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder too, even though I tried to express to them that I felt anxious. I think they thought I was drug seeking at first because the drugs used to treat Axiety and Panic Disorder have addicts hooked on them. But the doctor finally believed me when I began complaining about panic attacks again. I guess I should have told him about the other stuff but I found it so hard to talk about it with anyone. It was my secret affliction. Doctors had tried to figure out why I had so many stomach and back issues and blackouts and failed. My pediatrician taught me to guide myself through panic attacks but that didn't help with the fact that they still happened and they were embarrassing.

When I first took Klonopin, nothing happened. I was on 0.5, and within a few days I had another panic attack. So my dosage was increased to 1mg, and the first thing I noticed was every knot in my back disappeared. Like magic. And I felt normal. Really normal. I worried about stuff but I didn't obsess about it. But I had a problem... the place I worked. It was still triggering panic attacks... I went through a lot of verbal and emotional abuse.

Now I'm at home. I don't know if I will pursue another job at this point. David is doing well and I really want to make sure if I go back to work that I won't have another panic attack or blackout.

Why am I writing this? Well, partially to give to my doctor. I think he needs to know all of this. And partially to give my story on what it's been like to live with panic attacks and anxiety. Maybe someone else out there will relate, and show this to their doctor. If you have this condition, you need to get treated. There are methods of calming yourself during a panic attack... breathing through your nose then out your mouth.... counting breaths and trying to slow them down... and then there's the good old fashioned breathing in to a paper bag trick. There are also treatments that can help prevent you from having panic attacks. I don't know if I've hit on the right one yet but I will keep trying. If you feel you may have one of these disorders, you should do the same.
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