Back in 1995 is when I first had a symptom of anxiety. I am normally a very stressed person. But until recently, I used to thrive on stress. It was my "high" I took stressful situations in stride and conquered them. I was also taking my body for granted. Not getting enough sleep, eating right or exercising. Then in 1995 while helping someone push their car out of the snow, I found myself panting and out of breath. Almost panicked but I got my full deep breath and everything was back to normal.
My first real panick attack happened on the way to work in 1997. I was running late so I ran real hard to catch the subway. While on the subway train, I found myself unable to get a real satisfying deep breath. I was hyperventalating and thinking to myself, I must have asthma. As soon as I got to my office door, I couldn't take it anymore. I asked the security guard to call me an ambulance because I thought I was having an asthma attack. 8yrs prior a doctor has said that I may or may not have a slight case of asthma but it was very residual and not a real health risk. Oh, and then there was that pesky nicotine habit. At the ER docs took all sorts of tests and said that there was nothing wrong with me. They took chest xrays and they came up with nothing as well, no asthma. Doctor said that I might have just had a panic attack. I was like what the hell is that and brushed it off. He gave some ativan and that made me feel gooooood.
I had another panic attack 2 days later and I quickly took another pill. I went to go see another doctor(non ER) and he also said that I had panic attacks and that I needed to reduce my stress levels.
I noticed that whenever I overexerted myself ie. running up stairs, I would start getting panicky. So for the most part, I stayed away from stairs and working out too much.
My next panic attack came in 2005 shortly after my grandfather's death. My parents had come visited me and I got all anxious and stressed from their visit. I had difficulties breathing again so I went to the urgent care doctor to get checked out. They ran all sorts of tests and xrays on me. Final conclusion, no sign of asthma. However, to cover their bases they had me on albuterol and gave me a pump just in case. During this time I decided to get back into shape. I cut down my caloric intake to 1200 calories a day (I am 5'11 and was 250lbs at the time) and worked out 2 hours a day 7 days a week. I barely slept during this time either. Slept at 2-3am and woke up at 6 to go to work. I lsot a lot of weight but I think it overly stressed out my body.
Couple weeks later, I had a full blown panic attack. I ran for the bus but couldn't catch my breath. I thought it might be asthma so I took a couple of puffs from the inhaler. Big mistake. It caused my heart to race which made me even more panicky. Someone called the ambulance for me and once again I found myself in the ER.
There I met a real kooky doctor. He himself was popping ativan pills like they were aspirin. He said that his job in the ER was very stressful so he popped ativan whenever he felt tense. I was like...uh...ok. Doctors once again found nothing wrong and advised that I see my PCP.
I gave my PCP the history of my panic. Until then, I hardly saw my PCP. He advised that I had panic disorder after ruling out asthma and any other possible cardio problems with EKGs. He said it was good that I was trying to lose weight and didn't think that was the cause of my panic. He prescribed me paxil, a very low dose of 10mg (half a pill) I took it for the next 3 yrs.
At first paxil made me groggy and lethargic. I didn't think it really helped me. But I stayed on it for 3 yrs. Even got married during this time. An event that I was sure would cause panic (I am not a very good person in front of crowds) But everything went smoothly.
Forward to today....moving to a new city, new job (which is one of the worst companies with one of the worst employee bases I have ever experienced) and being new to married life brought a lot of stress on my life. I was sleeping very little, going to bed at 3 and waking up at 5. I did this for about 6 months. In August I decided along with my new doctor (who was very against me being on Paxil...said I should get off of it as soon as I can...weird) to wean off paxil. At first there were little symptoms. Then about 2 weeks later, I started getting full blown panic disorder symtoms. Some of these symptoms I have never had before. I found myself unable to breathe, swallow, sweating fo no reason, heart beating heavily, nauseus, nervous, twitchy, stiffness in neck, tight jaws, . However, I decided to stay away from medications and to see if i could deal with it. It has been one tough journey that still has not ended. Now, the symptoms seem to be coming in phases instead of all at once like before. But still, my life is a living nightmare
New doctor has suggested that I go on some other drug such as lexipro or prozac. But I tell you, after my experience with coming off paxil, I had resisting the idea of going on again.
I try to sleep more now (5-6 hours a night) take vitamin b complex for stress and practice relaxation techniques. These have been great in helping ease some of the panic, but still....when will it all end.
I have been having daily episodes now and it really stinks.