Thursday, June 19, 2008

Anxiety Attacks - my personal experience

This post is just a bonus post because of the subject. I have a friend suffering right now from Anxiety Attacks and let me just tell you as a former sufferer (is that a word?) they are horrible. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. If you or someone you know is suffering, please grant yourself or them some additional grace and patience.

Mine started during a very stressful time in my life. It was August of 2004 and my job was extremely demanding. I was working 40 plus hours a week and couldn't keep my head above water. I had a 2 1/2 yr old and we had just started the adoption process for our second child.

The day didn't seem that extraordinary in any way, I was actually at lunch with a friend when I started feeling "strange". I felt like I needed fresh air so I told my friend that I was going outside, but to come look for me if I wasn't back in 10 minutes. I really, truly thought I might die. I didn't have any pain or anything just an overwhelming fear of death. My dad has epilepsy and a thought did flash thru my mind that maybe I was about to have a seizure. I made it back to the table, but told her I needed to leave. I was desperate, but I went and got in my car and drove back to my office.

When I got back to my office, I continued to feel "weird". I was so out of it, I couldn't remember or find anything dealing with my health insurance. I had to call my coworker, Jennifer, and ask her to walk me thru it. I called Lance and asked him to come take me to the ER. He had a youth event scheduled for that evening and I could tell he didn't really have time for this - especially since I couldn't really tell him what was wrong with me.

When we got to the ER, they were very kind despite the fact that I wasn't communicating well at all. They ended up doing all kinds of tests, including an EKG and when the doctor was finished, he said, "there is nothing wrong with you. Are you under any stress?" I started crying and told him that yes, I was - he said, "I think you've just had a panic attack"

Panic Attack? I thought only "crazy" people suffered those! Lance took me back to my office and I gathered my things and went to get N. I had a 2 1/2 yr old to take care of, I didn't have time for a panic attack!!! I remember crying desperately on the phone to my mom that evening. We had been scheduled to go for a visit that weekend, but there was no way I could drive to Dallas in my condition.

The next month, I worked shorter days, had a vacation and yet....I was still suffering. I hated driving (which was completely out of character for me), I couldn't go to the high school football games (I thought the stadium would collapse), I would have to have Lance pull over the car occasionally so I could get air. It was horrible. After our vacation, I realized this wasn't going to go away on it's own. So, I went to see my doctor and cried through the entire appointment. She was kind and had suffered these attacks herself. She prescribed an anxiety med and also discovered my thyroid was way out of whack.

I really didn't want to take the anti-anxiety med - I thought it was a copout, but it gave me relief. I could take care of my child again, I could drive, and function. So, I continued on for about 6 months taking the meds and cutting everything extra out of my life that I could. I had several friends who had been through the experience share books with me and call and check on me from time to time. It helped to know that others I respected had lived thru this. I tried to go off the med, but everytime I did, I would have another "attack" or would be highly irritable - it just wasn't worth it for me to go off of them.

It's now been almost 4 years and I'm still taking the med. And that's okay. It is allowing me to raise my children and live a normal, productive life. I've even found I'm able to take on more things and have a better social life, without worrying about when the next attack will happen.

Everyone is different and everyone's experiences are different. The best choices for me may not be the best option for you, but you work through it.

I pray you never experience these attacks, but if you do, ask for help. You can call me or someone else. Don't keep it a secret! That only makes it worse. And even though when you are going thru it, it doesn't seem like it will ever end, it can. I'm proof of that.

5 comments:

Ladybuggin' said...

Never had them. I hope that I don't. It is good that you have been able to keep yours under control.

QuiteContrary said...

thank you for posting (it's good to know i'm not alone) and i'm sorry you've experienced this too. i would love to find out book titles and if i'm not intruding too much, what med has worked for you. i am so ready to break this cycle of fear.

Jenn Greeley said...

Oh I remember this oh so well. I felt helpless with you. I wanted to help, but didn't know what I could do. I hope I did show patience, because really that was the only thing anyone watching another suffer with anxiety attacks can do. I'm glad you are able to function normally. The medication obviously works well for you. I have not seen you expericence the attacks since then. Its just another thing in life that we have to sometimes deal with.

Glen Funderburk said...

Thanks for telling your story. It was well written. And something tells me that you recovered a bit more just in the telling of it. You made it come alive. As the kids in my 9th grade English class about 100 years ago used to say "You larned me something today."

Luv ya, Dad

Becky said...

Jen,
I had several isolated attacks prior to our moving here. Things were so stressful and uncertain. I did have terrible pains...chest pains that would lay me out and I really thought that I was having heart attacks!!! I wouldn't be able to breath and I freaked over every little thing. I was told that it was anxiety attacks however, when my stress was relieved, it did stop for me.
There is no shame or cop-outfor taking meds to help us with certain things when needed! A few years ago, my Dr. diagnosed me with PMDD..after I cried through an appt. and asked what was wrong with me! He said it was way more than 'the barroom jokes about PMS' and I've been on meds for it. Have been a better person, mom, and wife b/c of it!!! :o)
Thanks for sharing! Glad you have it managed!