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OUT OF THE BLUE? Please Read and Respond!

OUT OF THE BLUE? Please Read and Respond!

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Posted by Seth on November 06, 2000 at 14:38:11:

I have been reading some cases of this occuring out of the blue. It definitely did in my case. I would like to share this with you because I am in search of answers and opinions and would appreciate any feedback, especially from people with similar experiences.

I am 23 years old. Last January I was eating in a Japanese restaurant (sushi, beef and a beer) - when all of a sudden I felt "stoned" and went into a panic. I thought I was going to die - (a seventh grade teacher of mine DID die of Sushi poisoning) - and I was rushed to the emergency room. In my mind I knew I was living my final minutes and my teacher's death from sushi contantly played in my head. It was a feeling of complete powerlessness, fear and lack of control.

When I arrived at the ER I was told that I had had a panic attack and that I'd feel better soon. Famous last words. I started to fear having another attack and by about a month later I was feeling spaced out all the time and scared by those feelings. (Although I had never, ever, felt this way before). My thoughts raced now, though, and soon I became obsessive - was there something wrong with me? Did I really get poisoned and now I have a problem? Was I dying of some rare, yet potent virus? It never stopped. I became a worrier and by February I was locked into a wreckless pattern of thinking. "What If . . . " were my two favorite words.

The most striking part of this for me has been the chronic feelings of spaciness. Since February 2000 I've felt like I've been watching my life on a tv. set, like I am detached. Whenever I have a panic attack now - usually 1-2 times a week - it is CAUSED by the feelings of spaciness - I definitely have issues with control, fear of dying and fear of drug reactions.Does anyone have a similar feeling of spaciness?

As is classic of people that get stricken out of the blue I've been to myriad doctors to try and come to a quick solution to all this - to no avail -

1) NEUROLOGIST: did an EEG and MRI and Basic Neural Eval. ALL NORMAL.
2) PRIMARY DOC: EKG, complete bloodwork including thyroid, all STD's and HIV - ALL NORMAL.
3) GASTROENTEROLOGIST: normal. He prescribed Zoloft which I took for 5 days and stopped due to side effects.
4) EAR/NOSE/THROAT: normal
5) DENTIST: have wisdom teeth, not thought to be related.
6) RESEARCHED FAMILY HISTORY: None, although my grandfather and uncle (maternal) are high-strung men, short tempers.

Began seeking therapy from a psychologist to attack some issues from my childhood, which include:

a) divorced parents. Dad left when I was 6. Am close to both parents now, but I think I have issues with abandonment.
b) Led to a need for me to always be in control, to repress my emotions and deal with things on a rational level.
c) fear of losing control and death. Had several BAD EXPERIENCES WITH DRUGS - about a year before my first panic attack. Had thoughts like I was going to die then as well. When I feel spacey, I feel as though I am having a bad drug experience. Interesting.
d) Trauma: I had two surgeries under anasthesia early on. Also, I almost drowned in the ocean when I was 14. Somehow I survived but I buried that fear. Seems to be related to my fear of losing control and dying though.

At the time of my first attack there was a lot of STRESS in my life - although stress was something I had always welcomed. This time, I was being nailed from a bunch of different areas:

1) REAL WORLD: I had just graduated from college yet I was running an internet company in upstate NY with a business partner. At 22 years old I was in charge of over 85 employees and a lot of cash. We started to run out of funding (surprise!) and realized we were going to have to move onto another venture. From the start I was not particularly happy with this situation. ALSO: Confusion as to what to do with my life. I had taken the LSAT exam for law school but didn't do as well as I thought I needed to do - this was really trhe first test ever that beat me. I am a perfectionist by nature.

2) FAMILY: My mom had just thrown her boyfriend out of the house. She was lonely, I knew it, and so I left my kitten with her to keep her company in NYC when I headed back upstate. I felt bad for her and it brought back feelings of my parents' divorce. ALSO: my grandfather had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

3) GIRLFRIEND: she had just come back to upstate NY after having been "home" for over a month. She was about to start her final semester at school before graduating "early" to be around me. I felt pressure from this. The dinner at that Japanese restaurant when I had the attack immediately followed me picking her up from the airport.

Docs look at this and say "anxiety" caused this. But anxiety never did this to me before. Last Monday I felt completely normal again, back in control and no longer spacey. Then it came back. I am about to start Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and am open to meds, although I'd like to use them as a last resort. I would really like to get the opinion of those who've been living with this for a while on the following things:

1) IS dp dangerous to me? Will I faint when I feel "out there?"
2) How do you handle the anxiety and fear associated with this?
3) Does my case sound as though it was CAUSED by the anxiety?
4) How can this happen to someone who had always thrived on stress.

Thank you so much.



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