For the past few months I've been feeling a lot of anxiety, but hadn't had an attack, thankfully. I just started to get really nervous in public situations, especially social ones. I found the courage to start going back to school, and have been going for the past 4 or 5 weeks. It's only two classes every Tuesday night, and I've managed to deal with it... up until last night.
I had my first anxiety attack last night. We had a midterm in English, but I really don't think that had much to do with it. It was a very simple assignment... we had a 6-page story handout, and then we had a sheet of 6 questions to answer about the story. Each question had to be answered in a paragraph. I was a little "on edge" when I came into the class, I always get really nervous and my heart races... from the time I start getting ready for class to the time I walk in and sit down. This always calms within a few minutes of sitting. This time though, it didn't go away.
I started to read the story, and just couldn't concentrate. I kept reading things wrong, and rereading sentences and started to feel really panicky. The more I tried to read, the more panic I felt. I went to answer the first question, but I just couldn't find the words. Things just weren't processing through my mind correctly. I started shaking subtly... and I'm getting more worried with the thoughts of what I'm going to do, how I'm going to do this... what is wrong with me right now... I've got two sentences down that only begin to answer the first question. My mind was just so scattered, I felt overwhelmed, and this whole time a big part of me just wanted to leave. I finally decided to get up and tell the teacher I needed to go out for fresh air. I had been contemplating doing this for 15 minutes, but I dreaded going up in front of everyone and drawing attention to myself. I went and sat outside for maybe 20 minutes, hoping to collect myself and wishing that this would just subside, but it wasn't working. An acquaintance from the class, who was already finished with the paper, came out and asked me what was wrong. I told him everything I was feeling, and he slightly chuckles and says "Did you party last night?" It made me feel worse. I went back in and told the teacher "I'm really not feeling well. Can I do it tomorrow?" (she has the same class Wednesday nights)... and she said "It's ok, go back and sit down. There's nothing to it. I can't let you do it tomorrow because you've already seen the questions." I sat back down as she announced that we had 10 minutes left to finish the paper. Nothing had changed. When she said the time was up, I put everything away and told her I needed to go home. I got in my car and just cried. I went home and depression kicked in from there... everything just felt so hopeless. I just lied down in bed, replaying everything that had just happened until I fell asleep.
Luckily the midterm is only 60 points out of the semester, which isn't too much. But I don't know why this happened. I know it wasn't the assignment, because it was easy enough. I'm a good writer, and like the teacher said, there was nothing to it. Now I'm worried about it happening again. I'm trying to figure out what triggered it this time. The only thing I can think of is I had coffee before class. I rarely ever drink it... but before class I went to Starbucks with a friend, and they made her coffee wrong... so she gave it to me and they made another one. I'm not sure about caffeine and anxiety, or anything else it could be... any thoughts?
I am so sorry you had such a tramatic night. In my "opionion" it's sounds to me like you had a Panic Attack.. Classical symptoms..
Your right caffeine can trigger off symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks..
You are already starting to antisipate the next attack.. which is antisipation anxiety. Very common after having your first attack, next you will start to avoid certain situations and places IF you let it get that far.. Try not to think about it happing again, and if it does perhaps a visit to the Doctor is needed to reasure yourself that you are suffing from some kind of anxiety disorder.
I hope this helps you and I truly understand I am a panic suffer as well, and have become an expert to the signs! How did you feel when you got home, to your "safe place?" Did the symptoms subside? Did you feel more relaxed? Just the fact that you get anxious hours before class is a true classic sign..
Feel better.. any thoughts or questions let me know! Boxerlover
Caffiene can precipitate a panic attack but you would be advised to get help at your counseling center sooner than later because it is easier to get rid of them the earlier you catch it. See if you have a cbt program at school and join a group if they do. Like the previous reply said if you don't get on top of it it can grow worse with the anticipatory anxiety and turn into in agoraphobia in some people.
When I got home those symptoms went away... but I just felt this great sense of defeat, and completely hopeless... I just laid in my bed, mentally exhausted... upset over the whole ordeal. It was torture, it really was... like a nightmare.
I am planning on seeing a psychologist soon... I just got put under my mom's insurance this week... and now I have to wait for it to go through the system, which could be a couple of days. My uncle actually has agoraphobia... and I'm really scared I'm developing it. I stopped hanging out with a lot of my friends, stopped working. The one thing that pushed me to go to school was that I would have health insurance and be able to get help. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get help before giving up on school. Thanks again for your replies, and hopefully I'll be able to see somebody for it by next week.
I am sorry you are feeling so down, I know how frustrating all these feelings can be.. It is exhausting, it's surges of adreneline going through our bodies~ the flight for fight response. This in turn causes us to feel exhausted, not to mention the mental strain we give ourselves worring! I am sure this will all work out for you.. Just take each day one step at a time.. Don't worry about tomorrow, just worry about now and the moment.. That is really all we can control, plus the anxiety loves to feed off the not in control issue~ so try not to give in.. If you get a chance read some of my other post.. I just bumped one up for someone else it's called my Disease Called Anxiety.. You will find it here on the anxiety board.. I think you will find lots of comfort in this post knowing that you truly aren't alone on your feelings or thoughts.. I wish you the best! If you have any thoughts or questions I am here feel free to ask..
Good Luck! Boxerlover
hey shorebird... thanks a lot for your advice about CBT. I've seen my psychologist twice so far, and it's going pretty well. I'm going to mention CBT to her this coming week. I'll look into those books, thanks again.
Hey shorebird... thanks for your concern, I'm sorry I haven't responded yet. I've seen my psych twice so far (once 4 weeks ago, and then a week ago I met with his nurse practitioner). The first time I was late, and we only spent 15 or 20 minutes... and I forgot to mention the CBT because I had so many things I wanted to say, and for the most part it was just answering questions he had for me. I saw his nurse practitioner on my second visit, and he gave me a month's worth of samples of Lexapro, so I have been on that for a week now... sometimes I feel better, and sometimes I feel worse, hopefully it'll all just get better soon.
I have another appt. in two weeks. Do I talk to my psychiatrist about the CBT? I don't think he really does ongoing therapy... he just seems to be a medication-related psych (of course I do have some time to talk to him, but I don't think he does that on a weekly basis). Should I mention it to my psychologist? I've been going to her for several weeks now, I have my next appointment on Thursday... I've been meaning to bring it up, but I keep forgetting because I get wrapped up talking about everything else. Thanks again for replying.
Hi JB, meds can take several weeks to start working so hopefully they will help you more soon. You may want to see if your psychologist does CBT or if they know anyone under your health plan that does. The exercises helped me once I was ready to dedicate myself to doing them and I am doing much better. I hope your meds kick in and that you are feeling better soon regardless of whether you get to use CBT or not. Let me know how you are doing?