Monday, March 24, 2008

Panic/Anxiety Attacks

I don't usually want or like to talk about this but today seems fitting. I started having anxiety problems about 9 years ago. I was only 29. Though I didn't realize what was happening to me and that made things really scary. It started with severe dizzy spells, which I realize now was me hyperventilating. I went to every doctor from an ENT to my internist. Nobody and I mean nobody could seem to help me in the medical community. I was frustrated and scared that something was really wrong with me. I really thought I was dying or having heart problems. The attacks gradually accelerated from the age of 29 to 33. In July of 2003 I had a total and complete melt down. My attacks had finally peaked. I ended up in the emergency. Then a few weeks later I ended up at my family doctor. My doctor couldn't see me on this particular day so I ended up seeing my husband doctor and thank god I did. She finally diagnosed me with an anxiety disorder. I didn't like the diagnoses and didn't understand why all this was happening to me but I was happy that someone could tell me what was wrong. I attribute this climax in my anxiety to many things that were going on in my life that year such as 3 family deaths and a friends death within a 4 month time span and my job situations was bad at the time. My wonderful doctor put me on some anxiety medications that helped me dramatically. She then sent me to a cardiologist, which ruled out any heart problems. I took the medications for 4 years and within this 4 year time period learned how to cope with this new disability. It was a very hard time in my life. Having this disability is difficult for others to understand. I always hate the looks I get when I tell people I have these attacks once in a while. They always look at me like I'm crazy and they don't understand. One thing I've learned from talking to others who also have this problems is they will always tell you that they feel as if they are dying. Today I'm doing great and have been off the medications for almost a year. It took me almost 1 1/2 years to stop taking it due to many withdraw symptoms from the meds. Just to clarify not all anxiety medications have withdraw symptoms associated with them. I'm not saying my attacks have gone away because they haven't. I deal with the anxiety everyday. I have just learned not to freak out completely and work through the attacks when they occur. I'm always saying to myself "This to shall pass". I hate being like this but I must deal with it and I will conquer this terrible disability I've been burdened with. My doctor has prescribed a muscle relaxer in case I have an attack that I can't get through. I don't use these meds very often. I just feel safer having them in my purse. If anyone out there has these attacks please know there is help out there and you should get it to improve the quality of your life. Educate yourself and equip yourself with coping skills to manage the attacks. This helped me greatly. Over the years I have done much research on this topic and I did learn that the medical community is saying there maybe a link to this disability being hereditary. I just found out in the past year several of my cousins also have panic attacks and are on medications and now my little sister. It actually gave me some peace to know that some of my family struggles with this problem and that I'm not alone. I have read several books that helped but the one I enjoyed the most is by Lucinda Bassett called From Panic to power. I have enclosed a link to her website. Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety

The reason I'm writing this post today is for my sister. She has been having mild attacks for about 3 years now but refused to believe she might have a problem like me. The past few weeks have been very bad and her attacks are getting more serious. She is going to be 35. That's around the same age I was when this got bad for me. I just wanted her to know she is not alone and not crazy. This is nothing to be ashamed of. This happens to a lot of people in this world and there is help out there. You just need to go get it. I'm hoping and praying that she will be okay and seeks the help she needs. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.


  1. You are so right that everyone has them. The cool thing is that they range in severity. And often if you can recognize what is happening you can halt it. Thus the severity is not too strong. Your sister is lucky to have you and know that they exist and that she too will live through it. I sometimes think that if you just say "NO" as in I don't have time for this then before you know it the feeling has past. Although I have never been crippled by the attacks I do know that they are real, but the mind is a powerful thing and can overcome all things.

  2. I hope you sister can find help like you did.


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