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high anxiety

high anxiety

I've had six anxiety attacks today. They're probably the worst attacks I have had in a long time. I barely get them at all anymore, but the last two days have been full of them. It's gotten to the point where the thought of having one brings one on, and then when it starts, I get that "oh my god i'm dying" feeling, I think I'm having a heart attack or my throat is closing up or my lungs aren't working and that of course makes the anxiety worse which makes the whole thing actually physical instead of just mental.

I don't know why they have returned with such a vengeance. I don't know what has been different the last two days, what is present in my life that is causing my brain such distress. I've been reading and flipping channels all day just to keep my mind occupied. I'm exhausted from the latest phase of insomnia yet I'm afraid to try to sleep because I am tired of the anxiety surfacing in my dreams, and of waking up gasping for air. I'm pretty much doomed any way you look at it.

It may be time to listen to what I've been told, to heed the advice of my doctor and look into some anxiety medication. I've put it off this long because I am afraid it will lessen me somehow. I'm afraid that once I take it I will no longer be me. I don't want that. But I don't want this, either.

If I knew what was causing the stress I could eliminate it. If I knew what has made the last two days so overwhelming for my mind that it's making me nearly crazy, I would eliminate it. For the first time, I cannot put my finger on what is causing my attacks. Maybe it is a combination of a lot of little things that when held up alone look like tiny little specks, but when all rolled up together make a giant ball of fret. Maybe I'm worrying about worrying.

I wish I had shut-down mode. I wish I could just turn off the part of my brain that thinks beyond thinking; the part that deals with the what-ifs and why-nots and how-comes, the part that takes every tiny rip in the fabric of the entire universe and makes it my problem. I wish I could sleep. I wish I had answers for myself.

Yea, I'm done now. Everyone playing their violins for me?

Comments

I know what you are feeling in the anxiety attacks. And I deeply empathize with your fear of meds affecting your functioning. I struggled with the problem (and generally succeeded) with talk therapy, altho when faced with a stressful medical situation I broke down and briefly took Xanax to get through it. And then got off the meds asap. My dreams used to be so threatening. You have my utmost empathy.

Being someone from the deep, rural South where medication like this is taboo, I fought with it for months and months. Nothing anyone can say really makes much difference, but I am going to say it anyway.

You (maybe not you, but the general populous) take medication for the flu, for asthma, for headaches - etc. All these medications do is allow the body an extra "oomph", if you will, to go ahead and do it's job.

Yeah, you might have read the horror stories, as they are out there. I've heard them too. Given that I am a medically-proven (as well as psychologically proven) hypochondriac, that tripled my fears.

I finally decided I needed a break. I got to the point I could no longer pinpoint the reasoning behind my extreme panic attacks. I was stuck at home for months, only able to work for one or two hours in my office per week. I met a kind doctor who explained how they work, and what they do in regards to brain chemistry. Yes, they do alter it, but in a positive way. You do not lose who you are, you gain what is lacking (not necessarily forever, either) chemical-wise, allowing your mind the freedom to cognitively reason the source of the attacks.

It gives you almost, per sť, a "break" from the attacks for as long as you need. YOU control the dosage. I started on Paxil at a mere 10 milligrams at first. Paxil is targeted more toward panic-sufferers, whereas Zoloft or Welbutrin aims at depression, and by diffrentiating dosages CAN be targeted to stop panic.

Either way, you work with a doctor or psychologist you TRUST until you find a dosage that allows you to cognitively reason your way out of the attack. I can still have an attack, as I keep myself dosed low, but the Paxil gives me enough time to reason it away. It's all up to you how you dose yourself.

Some people, like me, have chemical imbalances. Nonetheless I COULD still stop the paxil, as the brain can be taught to reverse its own chemicals with others through cognitive therapy.

In short, none of Michele is lost. Michele just gains the neccessary chemicals she needs to arrest the panic and allow for reasoning to take over.

Again, I know how little words from others help. Nonetheless, I felt the need to share my experience.

Ditto to Carey's comments. I have been taking Paxil and Welbutrin for about a year now, and I am still the same sarcastic ass I've always been. I just don't sink into irrational fits of anxiety that would paralyze me. Drugs are not a quick fix, but with other therapies can be effective. A good doctor along with the support of family and friends can change your life for the better. What are you waiting for, sweetie?

Most of what I wanted to say has already been said. :) But in short: if the medicine really changes you too much, there are others, and lesser dosages. It shouldn't have to affect you that much. Both I and my husband are taking anti-depressants (aren't we just the anti-depressant family! LOL!) With mine, I was totally fine... nothing changed except I wasn't depressed anymore (well, at least not so severly like I had been). He had to adjust his, and when he took it. He was a zombie for the first few days when he started, but he worked with the dr. and changed the dosage, and timing... now it's like nothing. I think our society as a whole still needs some "growing up" to do about accepting depression, anxiety disorders, etc. It should be like any other thing - a virus, an infection... it's treatable, and there are treatments available. People are so worried about seeking help, myself included. It shouldn't be that way....

Just to chime in...geez, no, you have nothing to be anxious about -- only that %$#@ reading program you put together all by yourself, and what's going on with your ex/kids thing, and seeing your kids grow up (a good thing, but still inately anxiety-producing) and so on and so forth...

Crikey, hon, I don't know how you do it. Seriously. And if there's a shot that taking something might help chill you out a little, not take away your "you-ness" but give your head (and your heart rate) some breathing space, then I'd say go for it. It's a big decision. I'm thinking about it myself. Jury's still out for me.

Hang in there, either case...

anything i might have had to say has been said, so i'll just say i hope you feel better and leave it at that.

there have been wonderful advances in medicine for this sort of thing.

As kd said, just about anything I might've said has been said already. But I will say that I completely understand what you mean about wanting an on/off switch for your brain -- for a long while over these past several months, I had insomnia because as soon as I lay down in bed and closed my eyes, my mind would jump to warp speed and I wouldn't be able to sleep. I finally broke down and started taking Ambien to help me sleep, because I had to. If I didn't, I literally would've gone crazy.

Either way, I was lucky in that I had friends who took me out on a regular basis and got me really fucked up to the point where everything just seemed funny and hazy. That was my brain's off switch.

Michele

I suffer from an anxiety disorder and chemical imbalance and ADHD. Yes, one could say I'm a basket case, but they still let me handle sharp objects and high power rifles. In my case it is hereditary. My whole family is fucked up. I have been on Prozac and I would rather slit my wrists than ever take it again. I have been on zoloft and it didn't do dick for me. Paxil has been the drug of choice for the last 5 years (way before it was trendy). I would have to recommend Paxil at a lower dose for what you are going through. Panic attacks are a bitch to deal with. No, the drug is not the sole solution, but coupled with some good counseling its a wonderful. The side affects are less than be desired for the first two weeks, but you will live while your body adjusts to the increased seritonin. You will have more energy than you know what to do with, but it all evens out in the long run. Contrary to popular belief you do not loose your sense of humor nor do you become a slave to the pill. For me there is a definite difference when I don't take my happy pills. Trust me. If you would like a testimonial on that fact, just ask Led (I would hope you remember his URL.)

Could you go dancing with friends? A walk in the woods? And maybe take a day or two off this blog thingy?

Anxiety sucks.

Good luck with it Michele.

Thanks, everyone. This is basically what I was hopoing for when I posted. I just needed a little testimonial from the masses to point me in the right direction. I'll be calling the dr. today.

If its any consolation, I spent all of yesterday crying in a total snap freakout. Triggered by known things (terrible set of anniversaries) and unknowns, also. Just crying, couldn't even get up to feed Asha - a call to my therapist helped, and I never thought I'd have to do or be saying such a thing. Maybe it might help you too.

It is a consolation. It always helps to know that you are not the only one sitting at home, wondering why you are crying or unable to breathe or feeling like you can't leave the house. Misery does love company, in a strange way. Because it makes you feel more "normal" to know that there are probably more people who know how feel than don't know how you feel. It's less scary.'

Gordon brought up a good point to me yesterday and when Laura said "anniversary" it triggered that thought again...I probably was reacting to not just the stress going on in my life at the moment, but the proliferation of 9/11 related stuff on the television the past few days. I don't think I've quite gotten over it or moved on or whatever other words people are throwing at me in regards to that day and watching all these programs probably triggered all the anxiety I was feeling six months ago that, in all likelihood, was just laying in my brain waiting to be let out.

There I go self-analyzing again.

You're probably just pregnant again...

Breathe woman! Damnit! Breathe!

Yes, D. I am pregnant with your space monkey. Expect a little basket of happiness on your doorstep in a few months. Bananas included.

Good luck with the doc.

I want a space monkey in a basket, too.

Hey, I can only shoot out one of these every couple of months. Get in line.

michele -- i guess you know by now that there are lots of us out here who think you are great and want you to be happy. of course it's mostly selfish because we really just want to see your blog updated on an hourly basis. :)

i've been depressed (clinically) and have experimented with pretty much every SSRI (prozac-like) drug there is. i think everyone's experience with drugs is different - and you will look at your options and make your choices and try things and hopefully something will work for you, and soon! for me, i think the drugs helped me during extreme periods of insanity, but in the long-term, i decided that i didn't want to be on them. some people are very much affected. not that they lose their personalities, but they just feel differently. some people just feel like they're taking vitamins, except the dark clouds are gone. it's totally different for everyone.

i just hope you find something that works for you. i understand that feeling -- of not wanting to try the drugs because they might change you -- but whatever happens when you take them is totally reversable. if you try them and hate them, you can stop taking them, and within days things are back to the way they were.

My friend has anxiety attacks and takes half a Xanax when they get bad. She has a full-on personality. You would love her, actually. I would have been afraid of addiction with anti-anxiety drugs, but my friend has a VERY addictive personality and has not had that problem with Xanax. She just takes it as a last resort.

I fought taking anti-depressants for years over some kind of feeling that I "should" be able to pull myself out of it without drugs. But the more we learn, the more we find that these things are biochemical in origin, if aggravated by stressors.

If you take something, and you don't feel like yourself, switch to something else or go back off.

What I have found is that I'm more myself than ever on medication because the depression isn't eating me alive all the time. It made more room for my personality, not less.

Love you.

i felt like a big failure when i got some help so i understand your anxiety. thinking of ya, michele.

Not for anxiety per se, but I've tried Zoloft and didn't like it. I've been trying St. John's Wort, and I still don't know if it really helps.