I've been a long time follower on forums, but this is the first time I've ever posted myself and I have a bit of a tale to get off my chest... I'm not sure why, but I feel like it's perhaps time to try and contribute, and hopefully feel like I'm not alone with it! For at least 8 years I have been suffering with a shortness of breath which, I have know is caused and made worse by anxiety for about at least 5 of those years. I have always been quite fit and active and train/play both rugby and football at least 4 times a week - I am a mild asthmatic and can tell the difference between an asthma problem and 'my mind telling me I can't breathe'.
When I was 19 or 20 I had a couple of weeks where I would get heart palpitations and experienced what a lot of people call 'air hunger', and I felt like I couldn't breathe deep enough to stretch my lungs out... this ended in a huge panic attack, an ambulance, a week in the hospital and a few tests that all came back clear. I then had a decent 18 months of control and although I occasionally had the air hunger return, it didn't last for more than 2 minutes before I'd forget about it. As time went on, the air hunger got more regular until I noticed it almost every day and I started to get pretty worried about it being a serious problem. Again, I had a few more tests/checks and all came back clear, and I begun trawling the internet to see if there was anything similar out there happening with other people. It was then that I learned of these kind of sites and found the phrase 'air hunger'... there was a few killer days of coping to come (especially if I had a hangover), but nothing that kept me down for too long. In 2009 I went on a stag weekend to Bratislava and had a proper blow out for 3 days/nights... it was in the air port waiting to come home that things went to a new level... from nowhere I had a sense that my body was shutting down and I was going to stop breathing. This led to what I now understand was a 'fight or flight' reaction to it... I experienced tingling in my fingers, shortness of breath, feelings of passing out and falling over and just a sudden rush that something leading to me not being alive anymore was going to happen! this must've happened about 20 times in the space of 12/14 hours and was the worst day of my life by a long way!! I made it through and got back to my own bed and managed to sleep, but I woke up feeling like my lungs were on fire and all I could do with the day was lie and watch TV trying to concentrate on not forgetting how to breathe. This weekend coincided with a 2 year relationship ending, and me having to find a lot of money I didn't have to settle bills and rent that my girlfriend just left me to deal with. I felt low, constantly tired, I couldn't eat, was in fear that my body was shutting down and just like I wasn't living in my own body for a lot of that week - I ended up breaking down to tears on 2 or 3 occasions from just wanting to feel normal again, and eventually moved back to my mum’s for a week where I felt safe, and my thoughts eventually steadied. I went to see a doctor to discuss things and was given citaloprom to try and manage myself a little better. Initially nothing changed - I would still get days of real panic from absolutely nowhere, I'd feel like my lungs had halved in size and had many 'fight or flight' moments (most of which were now without a hangover). I learned to try and walk for a moment and talk to myself with reassuring words - that I'd been here before and I was going to come out the other side and feel ok tomorrow. A lot of the time the days would pass and I would have a happy few days feeling normal for a spell. My citalopram dose was then upped to 20mg and if I'm honest, I began to feel much more happy about life, I looked forward to situations and nights out and tried not to worry about 'an episode' or having a hangover that I thought was going to kill me. I had a brief few weeks, where I'd struggle going to sleep and was under the impression I'd forget to breathe in my sleep and 3 or 4 times woke up screaming and gasping like I had actually stopped breathing in my sleep (this was pretty brief and hasn't happened for well over a year). Occasionally my thoughts would slip, or I'd let my trademark hangover anxiety get the better of me, but life got better and I started to feel like I was getting over things at last! About 7 months ago I came off the medication and felt positive that I could now control myself and be happy without being medicated. Although all along I have always experienced the 'air hunger', I had taken a few CBT sessions at the doctors for techniques and gradually learned to live with it, and it has come and gone without too much worry. Unfortunately, it started to get a lot worse if I knew a something was coming up and, that I was potentially going to have a nightmare hangover - I'd feel quietly anxious and worried about how my mind/body is going to feel 'the day after' and inevitably, really bad with the hangover, often made 100x worse with the anxiety and with many 'fight or flight' moments - Christmas time was notably tough with a lot of people on holiday and wanting to celebrate.
I suppose that brings me about to where I am at the moment - I really feel back to square one again, and I can lose 2/3 days 'just trying to get through' and I won't eat much, talk to anybody or feel positive about going to work, playing sport or doing anything at all during these periods. I can eventually get myself back to semi-normal, but then I'll feel something or something may happen, and the panic sets in and they now seem to be lasting/effecting me for longer and more severely - I feel moody, short with people and in constant fear of having an anxiety episode again. I know deep down I have no reason to feel like this, I have a job I like, a wonderful girlfriend, supporting family and nothing financially that I can't cope with, but I just can't seem to control my thoughts and every time I get the anxiety symptoms, I fear it may be my last!
I'm only 28, and I feel strongly about wanting to get the better of this! Maybe I haven't taken it seriously enough, as I really feel I have developed a fear of hangovers, but just can't seem to say no to a social night involving alcohol. Although I am no stranger to a binge drink here and there, I'm am certain I don't have a drink problem at all, but I have made the decision to try and give up alcohol, as it seems to be a source of anxiety for me and as anyone who has over indulged may know, a real cause for it the next day. This isn't going to be easy I know, but I really feel I need to make a drastic change in hope that I can begin to control my mind/body for good. I will try and update this thread with my progress and hopefully from here I'll be back on the road to recovery!
I apologise that this is long winded, but this 'vent' has been sitting with me for many years now - please feel free to comment with any words of advice, questions or even just stories of your own troubles... I think I mainly just don't want to feel like I'm at this alone