My ongoing story
I started suffering from anxiety/panic disorder in Sept. of 2007. I had felt it building up for a couple months...feelings of uneasiness here and there, the need to splash some water on my face to refocus. Then one night I was having dinner with my brother-in-law. Twice, I had to excuse myself to the bathroom due to the general uneasiness I had been feeling. When I felt the third time coming on, I stood up and felt my heart take off.
I grabbed my chest and sat back down, feeling my arms go numb and pressure build through my neck. I was positive it was a heart attack, even though I was only 32. Someone called 911 and when the paramedics arrived, they told me it was a panic attack. I went to the ER, was checked out and discharged. This haappened every day for the next 4 days, with me jumping in cabs to the ER just to be told I was having another anxiety attack.
That week, I was checked out by a doctor and given an EKG and echocardiogram, both of which were perfectly normal. I started taking medications, which I only took intermittently, against directions. During this time, I was a heavy drinker and knew not to take the meds at the same time as alcohol. So I only drank instead.
Although the severity lessened, my anxiety continued for the next year. I began to have pain in my chest muscles, along my sternum and circling around to my pec muscle. I knew it wasn't pain directly in my heart, but the memory of the first panic attack stuck with me and I spent at least some time every day that year thinking I was about to have a heart attack.
In November of 2008, I quit drinking and went away for 30 days of rehab at a treatment center. From day 1 of no alchohol, my anxiety disappeared. I realized that while it provided a good short-term solution, the alcohol was just creating a vicious cycle, where the anxiety would be even worse the next day, creating the need for me to drink again. While I was in rehab, I stuck to my medication (Lexapro) and had no attacks for the entire month and 2 months afterwards.
But now it's back. It started slowly, but now I am having full-blown anxiety attacks on a weekly basis. I saw my doctor on Monday and had another chocardiogram, as well as a stress test - both were fine. I also went back on the Lexapro, but it takes a couple weeks to really kick in, I am told. Now that I am no longer drinking, I can stick to the proper regimen.
I just returned from a weekend away for a friend's wedding. On the 5 hour drive down, I had a major attack and had to get out of the car to relax. At the wedding, I had trouble holding long conversations with my friends because I was getting so worked up. The pain in my chest has returned, I get dizzy, I feel tingling sensations in my jaw, get headaches, get very tired, nauseous. The whole time, I was poking my chest, which is what I do to detemine where exactly the pain is (is it my heart? Is it a muscle?). People even noticed and kep commenting that I waspoking my chest the whole time. I couldn't eat much at the wedding, because I would get so nauseous, but throwing up would actually make me feel better. It creates some kind of release.
I'm back home now and am trying to relax. My chest is completely sore, not from the anxiety anymore, but from me poking it so much. To be honest, I can't tell anymore, what the pain is from - maybe it still is the anxiety. I'm trying to not even move, in case I feel it act up. Just an increase in my heart rate can freak me out.
I'm really praying these meds work for me, as I really can't live like this anymoree. It's incapacitating - I can't work, have trouble seeing friends. Hope I can find something that works.