I'm at my wits' end to be honest. I am a 32 year old female and my last 4 years have been an anxiety fuelled nightmare. I will appreciate any and all comments from anyone who decides to read through my story
Warning: long story
I had suffered from depression in my 20s but with some help (some basic SSRIs) I recovered (or so I thought).
It all started about over 4 years ago. I was at my parents house, moving my bed when suddenly I felt the strangest feeling, something I had never felt before. Physically it felt like someone grabbed my shoulders and tried to push me down into the ground. I started getting lightheaded, sweating I could not sit or stand - somehow i physically felt the need to lay down. I called my dad who had no idea wtf was happening, while i was laying down, all sort of weird psysical symptoms happening (which are extremely hard to describe, felt like sinking into the ground, if i tried to get up I'd just fall back down).
It went away after about 15 minutes. I was terrified that I had somehow managed to pulled my neck muscle or something. The fact that I really felt off after this incident was just reassuring me that I managed to damage myself somehow while pushing the bed. (By feeling off I mean dizziness, lightheadedness, nusea,, feeling like im falling into the floor etc).
I went and saw an ortho who told me to do a neck xray. :long story short: after a series of tests (including neck and head MRIs) it was said that even though I have a neck instability- there is no obvious reason why such attacks would occur - at least not from a neurological standpoint. Attacks were however happening , once every few weeks. Almost constant dizziness and lightheadedness was horrible. After a while (usually when I was walking somewhere outside) I started getting falling-down sensations. You know that moment when you trip over something and you get that split second heart flutter and you feel like you’re about to fall on the floor? Yeah, I was getting that but without tripping over anything. I started getting a wave – like sensations, running through my body which felt like someone is trying to full me underground. These were very physical sensations, my mental state wasn’t altered in any way, I wasn’t panicking, my heart rate was normal. I was pissed off, iHad no idea why this is happening.
I looked everywhere almost – ortho, neuro, otolaryngologists.. you name it, I consulted. Noone knew wtf was happening to me.Soon after I got my very first panic attack (you know the whole deal, with feeling the horrible dread, choking feeling, immense feeling that something is very wrong, not being able to breath etc). From that moment on it had become a combination of physical symptoms and panic attack and strong anxiety spells. I started dreading going out of the house. Soon, the general mental anxiety was just there all the time.
I consulted with a psychiatrist I knew from before , who said it is all anxiety related and my physical symptoms can be anxiety.. I couldn’t (still can’t abit) believe it – I was arguing that sure, my anxiety comes from the fact that the physical symptoms conditioned me to be very ******* afraid to go anywhere. He prescribed me SRNIs (Cymbalta) and said , on a hunch that I should do a tilt test. Cymbalta helped with general anxiety beautifully but all the physical symptoms stayed (the falling apart, falling down etc). I did the tilt test – and behold, during the damned thing (when they spray NTG under your tongue to provoke a reaction) I got the exact same attack that started everything. Mixed vasovagal syndrome they said. I was like, how do you mean – I have never fainted in my life? Oh well apparently you can have vasovagal syndrome without fainting, you just experience all the ****** symptoms while ‘awake’. Why do I have it I asked, I never really got an answer. Noone knew – my heart is in good shape according to the tests. ‘Could be a nervous reaction you know’ says my psych ‘some people get cramps, some get pains, you get a vasovagal symptom or full vasovagal episode – you are just too stubborn to actually lose control and pass out lol’. ( such fun doc -.- ) I asked him, if that’s so – how come all these issues ust randomly came into my life like that? I had never had any anxiety /fear/ fobia /psychosomatic problems before! His answer could be summarized in a short ‘**** happens’. He said I should think about psychotherapy. I decided to join an intensive psychotherapy programme in my city. It’s a 3 months long mix of group and individual therapy – you go there everyday for few hours. Sure enough I learnt a lot. I meanALOT. I realised how much my body issues (lifelong battle with obesity ) affect me , how much my relationship with my mother has shaped me, how I get very tense inside when interacting with a group of people etcetc. During the psychotherapy period I went off my antidepressant and stopped helping myself with Xanax. Anxiety didn’t come back but physical symptoms during therapy seemed to have gotten worse. I finished therapy and decided – ok let’s say all this crap is caused by my brain, perhaps being outside is the trigger coz I always feel so ugly and fat. Perhaps I got first attack at hime which I associate with my mother. Whatever. I need to get over this and step by step try to do more things outside again (I became quite a recluse). I tried for about 3-4 months, despite all the physical symptoms. Despite these symptoms shifting and changing (for example I suddenly get horrible vertigo on a bridge near my flat. Never had vertigo problems before. Now I have to hold tight to cross that damn bridge when I wanna get to the shop). I thought I was doing ok.
AND BAM, suddenly panicks attacks 3 x day. Out of nowhere. I have no idea what was happening to me. My mental state just went so bad I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. I’m pretty sure I had some hallucinations and psychotic moments, derealisation, depersonalisation… I mean going out of the house wasn’t a problem anymore – I wanted to leave my ******* head. I upped on Xanax, my psych gave me antidepressant back ( he suggested wellbutrin instead of any other ssri since I was afraid to put on weight – sadly it seems wellbutrin makes it worse).
And here I am today, barely functioning, thankfully I don’t get panic attacks and my psychosis seems to have subsided but I can’t get myself to leave the house. At the same time I am crying like a baby everyday coz I am so sick of being stuck at home. I tried going out with my partner (how is he still with me is beyond me) but physical symptoms make it impossible and just reinforce my fear of being outside.
From a healthy (despite being on the fat side of life), travelling young woman I became a stuck at home person, completely unable to deal with my state of mind and the physical symptoms. I loved life but right now I end up thinking of dying – not because I see no point in life- on the contrary :/ I hate it that I can’t enjoy it anymore.
All the meds, all the psychotherapy helped me understand certain issues in my life and manage mental anxiety. But dealing with all this for so long.. I don’t know what to do anymore.