So, I have been dealing with anxiety to some extent during my whole life, or as far back as I can remember. I had my first panic attack in 2001, after doing illegal drugs. I have never touched them since. But my anxiety came back in November 2006 after a dizzy spell and has gotten increasingly worse. I am to the point where I fear driving. My life is restrited to some degree. I have major physical symptoms, including constant lightheadedness, off balance feeling, mixed with episodes of panic/fear of dying and then fear of going crazy, they take turns! They are dramatically worse the few days before my "cycle". Right now, I am feeling short of breath and freaking out. Here are tests I have had done:
2 EKG's at the ER
Halter Monitor - 24 hours
Sleep Study that monitored my heart/breathing/brain waves, etc for a full night
ENT doctor did inner ear tests that involved putting water in my ears, making me dizzy and then did 2 eye movements tests
ENG - I think that is what it is called - with a neurologist that monitored me with electrodes for an hour plus 2 others eye movement tests
Blood tests including: vit B deficiency, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, Hepatitus, Blood Sugar, C Peptide that tells how my pancreas uses sugar, regular blood panel
Horomone tests - I am LOW in estrogen and am taking an estrogen patch.
Are there any other tests I should have done? I am not convinced still this is anxiety.
I do not drink, I do smoke, I am 32 yrs old, 3 kids, very busy life.
I cannot live this way anymore and do not know where to turn at this point.
I have seen 2 p shychologists that want to dredge up my childhood and that only made it worse.
My brother takes 5 meds for the same issues and my dad has these issues, as does my mom.
Any help would be appreciated!
First things first: I apologize for the long wait, especially with the extreme situation you're having. And I can tell you that many here know and live with exactly what you're talking about, and some of us have found the way out, too. Next time you don't get an answer right away, answer your own post and just enter a few words so it will go back to the top of the stack (if items are set to appear in order of most recent post).
You've cut to the chase, so I'll do the same. Are you taking any medication for the condition? All those tests you took (and we all know and love 'em) -how did they come out? Negative, I assume, except for the hormone which has been corrected.
You say you went to psychologists -not psychiatrists. You might not be seeing the right psyche.
You also say they dredged up your childhood -and MADE IT WORSE. That, my friend, is what we call a "clue." In the same way that moving your finger over a cut or bruise pinpoints the injury, moving your mind over past events can uncover emotional or psychological "injury." But it can be brutal when it is at someone else's direction -as you experienced.
Given the family history, you seem to present as a "classic" case. I'm not a doctor, but my own panic experience was nearly a carbon copy of yours. And, if organic causes can be ruled out, it often means that you take drugs to knock the fire out of the symptoms and help you cope right now, and also a course of therapy sessions to help you root out the emotional prime movers. This often does involve childhood experience and can be painful. But it can be painful -after all is said and done- in the same way that childbirth sometimes is. That is, the pain can become hard work, and with hard work come rewards.
But for right now, lets look back 7 years to that first attack. Why were you doing the drugs? What kinds of things were going on in your life at that time that were "big" psychologically. Jess, you don't have to tell me -or anyone- but simply ask youself if there are some "suspects" you can bring in for questioning.
You've done the tests, you live a clean life, and the childhood memories were painful. It may be difficult to "go there," but possibly you can take some comfort from a pretty strong indication that you're very much on the right track.
What I can tell you is that while medication, lifestyle, diet, etc. may help with symptoms, only going to the source can get at the root. One other possibility is a case of step. throat when you were a kid, and "PANDAS," which results from it. You can google that or find it here to learn more, but run it by your doctor. It will probably be ruled out, but should be considered.
Oh yes: you mentioned many family members -but not a husband. Can you say more about that? For all the benefits of marriage, there are also, sometimes, great stress.
I see you have joined the forum, so you can send private messages. I encourage you to do so after reading a post from someone you believe you can connect with.
I know how you feel. I am feeling the same way. My anxiety is so much worse in the morning than at any other time of the day. My husband has been taking me to work for awhile now. Most of the time during the day it is ok for me, other times it isn't. I just started on the Zoloft and am hoping that it will help me alot. I also have feelings of fear driving in the mornings and don't know why. Although we were in an auto accident in August, it hasn't seemed to bother me until just recently. The thing is, I really want to be able to drive, but I can't, not in the mornings.
Most of my physical symptoms are my shoulders and neck are so tensed up and I feel shaky, sometimes my heart will start pounding,bad heartburn and sometimes but not all, wanting to sleep, tingling around my mouth.
First of all, thank you for your response!
All the mentioned tests came back negative.
In the mornings I am full of physical anxiety, then it "crashes" to depression/fatigue, then peaks again around 3-5, then I am COMPLETELY fine around 6-bedtime. I sleep well at night, I don't wake up, if I don, I go right back to sleep. During the "crash" period, I feel out if it, tired, dizzy, off balance, weird in my own body, depressed sometimes. During the anxiety times, I am lightheaded, fear of some physical symptom, etc.
I didn't have that bad of a childhood, it involved a lot of drugs and abusive husbands on my mom's end, we moved a lot, very unstable and dramatic, all the time. Scary sometimes too! I married at age 19 to a completely controlling idiot who I divorced at age 23, married again at 24 to a drug addict who scared the ____ out of me! That was my first panic attack 7 years ago, while doing Meth with him. I read about anxiety, figured it out, controlled it and it was dormant for about 2 years. The drama continued with my husband with hime continuting the drugs, us moving a lot, etc until 2006, then I left him, moved in with my mom until 7/06, got back with my husband who quit drugs and we moved in together again, then began looking to buy another house in 11/06, that is when it all came back, never to leave again, getting worse. I have to say that my husband has been clean since 2006 and is very supportive most time, sometimes he gets angry with me though.
Anyway, sorry for the long story just wanted you to understand where I am. My symptoms seem to be different from anyone else's. I will look up the Panda thing you mentioned. I don't seem to have the classic panic attacks, they are more constant symptoms with the occasional full blown attack. My brother was the same way during his long 8 years of battling it until finally going on meds. I am petrified to take meds! I tried Zoloft during Thanskgiving and I was climbing the walls, pacing the floor for 3 days then my Dr. took me off it. I am not currently seeing any doctors, I am really lost as to where to go/start again but seem to be getting worse, which leads me to believe in my mind it is something bad, like maybe I am going nuts or something! But then the evening comes along and I am okay and it all seems silly the way I felt during the day.
Does any of this make sense?
I googled it, I guess it is likely but I don't really have highs and lows. I am just physically ill right now and the depression/fatigue that goes with fighting this. I don't have any anger outbursts, although I do feel iritible sometimes. I don't do excessive spending, sex things, or addictions. Actually, out of my whole family, I was able to give up Meth very quickly, I do not have an addictive personality, I don't feel ashamed of who I am, I love my body, face, life, etc, I just feel like _ _ _ _ !!!! I don't feel like I am worthless or that I want to die, none of that??
OK, I've got dinner burning, so must shortly go put it out and eat whatver may be left after the fire department leaves.
I read you, I read you loud and clear and I DO have some more questions and my usual stable of brilliant ideas. And FMRXsmkr -however he spells his name- sounds like he's in the hunt, too. Same for lighthouse lady who obviously is well named, lighting things up as she does. So, the backup is here -and more will arrive.
Meanwhile, hang in there until tomorrow when you will be my first order of business, and I'm talking 5:30 or sooner eastern time.
And meanwhile, again, this entire community is with you.
It seems you have gotten a clean bill of health, physcially. It also seems some of this is hereditary, perhaps? Are you on a mood stabilizer. It is easiest to talk with a physce after you have calmed down not before. Have there been any mental diagnosis? Hopefully, you won't have to go on five medications. Not that it I am anyone to say as much but it does seem like overkill. So, your problem is the anxiety ruining your life to the point of not functioning. Please cnsider a mood stabilizer, there are many out there, lexapro, effexor, celexa etc.
After posting I thought of kind of an explanation I had been given about fear or anxiety to the extent you have it and I have had it in the past. When a anxious situation presents itself, we go into fight or flight syndrome. It feels the same as if we walked around the corner and ran into a TIGER. It causes us a serious chemical cocktail. We want to run from it. A balance is needed and the only way I got a balance nd rid of a lot of fear was to get calm through a mood stabilizer and talk about issues to a physcologist. Something is triggering the fear. Good luck
Sorry so long to respond - the atomic reactor in my basement was acting up and I had to take out the garbage.
Jess -there is something you need to know: When you describe what you are going through, you speak not only for yourself, but for a great many others here on this forum, and in the world at large. Let me tell you -there will be a LOT of people watching this thread, because what YOU'VE got, THEY'VE got. And so, the journey you make through this scary, dark forest will blaze a path for many to follow. YOU, Jess, are going to show people how it's done. The reason I say this is that you exhibit some very serious signs of sanity, self-awareness, intelligence and a drive to get better. And what this all means is that YOU really CAN get better. So, let's get started.
Susie and FMX have both taken a few thrusts at the demons you're dealing with, and I happen to know these two as being very good detectives. FMX has noted that he has an "addictive personality," and Suze wonders about genetic factors. She also wisely notes that treatment typically involves some meds as a tactical measure to control symptoms, and talk as a way to get to issues in the background. Just so.
And, if you read any of my other posts (just put my name in the search box) you'll get up to speed on my over-all approach to the whole panic scenario. Otherwise, shop around the posts in general and you will, in time, see that "emotional archaeology" is frequently an essential tool in the recovery process. I can tell you without one shred of doubt that had I NOT done that work, I would not have recovered. And I was exactly where you are.
Take a look back at your response to my original interrogation. Here's something you said:
"I didn't have that bad of a childhood, it involved a lot of drugs and abusive husbands on my mom's end, we moved a lot, very unstable and dramatic, all the time. Scary sometimes too! I married at age 19 to a completely controlling idiot who I divorced at age 23, married again at 24 to a drug addict who scared the ____ out of me! "
Ahem. Now, I'm asking you, if I took a poll of everyone here on the forum -or just everyone who lives in the world- and asked them on a scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (great) to rate your childhood, based on the description you gave, what do YOU think people would say? I'll tell you what they would say. What they would say is that they want some minus numbers cause 1 ain't low enough, that's what they would say!
But what YOU say is, "I didn't have that bad of a childhood," and then you went on to list all that god-awful stuff. I GAR-ON-TEE that there are plenty of people who will read your post and who will say that if THEIR childhood was like that, they'd be in the loony bin! Can you sense all those heads nodding out there?
Jess, Jess, wait: I'm not trying to argue with you or make fun of you or do a face-slap thing, here. Not at all. But now that I have your attention, here's what I want to say. No matter WHAT anyone's childhood is like, good or bad, the child herself tends to regard it as "normal," and "not that bad," -exactly what you said. In fact, let's get rid of "good and bad" because that involves a sort of moral judgement. So why would any kid (and later, an adult) report a "not bad" childhood? That's easy! Simply because it was the only one they knew.
Think about that. I mean REALLY THINK about it. The kid has nothing to compare her own life to; there is no other point of reference, no credible information to the contrary. The child doesn't even think like that. A growing up kid from the earliest days of cognition is all about herself, incredibly selfish. Of course they are -they not only have to figure out what's going on in the world around them, to get what they need, but they also have to figure out themselves, learn what they are capable of, learn how to do what it takes to get what they need. This has nothing to do with you in particular, Jess -this is everybody!
Now let me ask you a question. Forgetting good and bad for the moment, what kind of environment do you imagine would tend to support the development of a child more-or-less in accordance with the kid's growing ability to absorb, process, and adapt to the information and messages about the world -and about herself? This is not a test, of course, and my question presumes the answer: an environment which is stable, safe, comfortable and stimulating. Some people call it "loving." Call it what you want, but what you describe as your situation doesn't fit the mold. You, as a little one, had to adapt to circumstances which defied the best abilities of the adults themselves.
Jess, this is NOT to say that the adults in your early years did not do their best at the time. Maybe they did, and maybe they did not. It may be factually true that the environment you lived in was really the very best that could be expected -given everything that was going on at the time. And even if we could go fast rewind and see for ourselves exactly what was happening, it really is not the point. What we're looking for is NOT someone to blame, but rather, "unfinished business," and childhood adaptations which tended to "work" psychological at the time (kept you from getting hurt, maybe) but which are not appropriate in adult life, or which tend to draw you to people who reproduce the circumstances of your early years -what you knew as "normal," what you regard as "the way life is," what, in fact, may actually be comfortable.
Catching my drift, aren't you? You bet.
Jess, nothing I have said here is in the nature of a pep-talk or feel-good therapy; it involves no stretch of the imagination nor any leap of faith. The validation lies entirely within your own experience, sense of self and common sense. In other words, I have told you nothing that you do not already know, or at least, suspect. What's happened here is that I've imparted nothing NEW -there is no new data, no smoking gun, no brilliant insight. So, why does it FEEL different? Why do you say to yourself, "I think we're on to something here?" I'll tell you why (you knew I was going to say that, didn't you?).
What's different is a new way of looking at the same stuff.
This is another one of those THINK ABOUT IT things, so, THINK ABOUT IT. The way you make changes to mental assumptions and conditions is to think about the same stuff in different ways. Look! Up ahead! Why does that red sign say, "POTS?" It doesn't say, "POTS," it says, "STOP." All depends on how you look at it.
It sounds too simple to be true, doesn't it? You're right. It does. And that, my friend,is where the work of the emotional and psychological archaeology comes in, of figuring out how you got to be the way you are. The actual change in point of view has never come (in my experience) simply by being offered a different way of looking at something. Rather, it comes from within you when you really see how something is working against you and in a flash of insight and recognition you say, "Holy cow! I don't need to keep doing this anymore!" I would compare it to being stuck for an hour when putting together a puzzle, and you discover that you've been holding the right puzzle piece all along -but kept putting it where it goes the wrong way. Suddenly, you do a head-slap and say, "It goes in like this!" Yes, in it goes and then a great many other pieces seem to follow in rapid succession. You get better and better at doing puzzles.
You may now say, "All well and good, but what does this have to do with anxiety and panic?" Just this: the adaptations we made as a youngster stop working the way they once did, because they are being deployed in an adult world. But, they are the only adaptations we know, because we've been busy simply living and dealing in the here-and-now with life itself. The anxiety and panic are signals that the old psychological and emotional defenses and adaptations just aren't working anymore. Some of the strongest evidence of this is the panic you experienced in 11/06 after you got back with your husband and started house hunting, anticipating, I think a more stable and happy life together.
Odd as it may at first sound, it is at such times of relative calm that panic and anxiety manifest. Why? I think of it this way. When anything is "in motion" and "at work" you obviously cannot do maintenance and repairs. Take the "Change Oil" light in your car. It lights up and next chance you get you pull into the speedy oil place and do what needs to be done. But suppose, Jess, the light comes on, and you CAN'T pull over because you are on a long highway out west and won't see civilization for 500 miles -and the light has already been on for 1000 miles because YOU said -I'll get to that next time, really I will. So finally, you enter a town, sense that you are last reaching your destination and safety and some time to rest, and guess what? That car starts to emit smoke while you sit at a red light, and runs rough, and the Check Engine light also comes on. You pull over to the shoulder and put a red flag on the door handle -a signal for help. You get the idea.
Jess, what I've tried to do here is validate the idea that you can expect improvement -and actually, expect to recover completely- if you follow a course of therapy that helps you dig down and discover more about you. My opinion is that your guide should be a psychiatrist who can BOTH handle the meds, if any are indicated- AND work with you to do the difficult job of looking into yourself. It seems you've spared no expense in getting all those tests you mentioned, so don't cheap out on the therapy side. This is you, Jess, your life. And it is priceless.
Earlier, I accused you of being intelligent. Curious as it may sound, our "smarts" are what often get us into this trouble because they enable us to come up with some clever -although ultimately dysfunctional- adaptations. You have probably noticed that panic people, as a group- are much more intelligent than the average population. But likewise, our intelligence will empower us to find the exit. And you will know you've found it because the way OUT, Jess, is exactly the same way you came IN. The only "trust me" I've asked for so far - Trust me, you'll know when you get there.
One more thing, for now. As you ponder what I and others have had to say to you, you will begin to have little "thoughtlets" that drift into your mind, as you think about yourself, your past and the way you think. At some point, you will find yourself saying, "Its like ..." and you will compare the experience or feeling to something else. Very much what Suze said, Like opening a door or going around a corner and suddenly, there is a tiger! The imagery I used in thinking about myself went like this: "It's like my personality and thinking is a nice, ivy covered brick wall. It looks old and strong and reliable. But if I stick my hand through the covering of ivy, I find that there are missing bricks and big holes. It is like someone hurried to finish the wall and get the ivy to grow to cover over the spots that weren't finished." I had a lot of those "Its like" things. What I learned was that when you start doing the "Its like" thing, your brain is reprocessing old ways of looking at things, old idea and notions, and coming up with new ones. And so, even though you may not know where your analogies and comparisons will lead you, know this: It's like your brain has put up a construction sign: "Brain at Work." Trust it.
I hope that any of this was useful to you, I am optimistic about your coming to terms, and I am grateful you came to the forum. Trust me (again) everyone wants to hear from you again, soon.
Wow, that was a lot to digest, but VERY helpful. I guess in this abyss, you feel like what you are going through is unique to you because it is so hard to explain to anyone. You think the feelings you are feeling no one else has ever felt before. You feel so not yourself, so changed, and you keep striving to get back to the way you were before, but you really cannot remember who that person was before this happened. But I guess I also realize that I will probably never be that person again, I cannot be if I want to get better.
The psychologist I saw was really at awe about my childhood and the "normalcy" I thought it was. He said that my degree of normal is different from someone who has not lived that life. I guess I don't understand why it has hit me so hard this last year, particularly in the last couple of months, how did it get to where it is now when I thought I had licked it years ago? I keep trying to see what I am doing differnt, what I am eating/drinking, etc. I know that I am healthy, but I keep searching for an organic cause for the way I feel because that would be the easy way out, to say, okay, I have Candida, or something like that, here take this and all will be okay. But to realize that the only way out is through myself is pretty scary at times.
So, where do I begin? Do I search for a psychiatrist? What do I look for in a doctor of this sort? What further tests should I have done, if any? What kind of timeline can I expect? They first psychologist made me feel worse after digging down in to my childhood, I was in a fog for weeks after, I had relived those experiences, although to me they didn't seem to be a bid deal, just something that had happened.
Why the dizziness/off balance feelings? The feeling like I am constantly stoned, in a fog, about ready to fall over? How do I eleviate those things? Or can I, do I just have to be patient and work through this? Are those things really part of anxiety? or depression? or something else?
It is interesting the point you make about the ways I handled the issues as a child not being able to work in the adult life. How do I move forward here?
I thought I completely understood anxiety after my first attack 7 years ago, I researched, researched, researched, and thought, okay, this makes sense and was able to move on, no more panic. Then my life became stable, normal, and the anxiety is worse!
Your thoughts and time are sincerely appreciated! I always thought, if I ever get better, I will devote my time to helping others with this problem. It is easier to talk with someone who has actually gone through it than someone who has not.
I have found some psychiatrists in my area and will begin there and keep you posted.
God Bless! Jess
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