Sunday, August 19, 2012
No Way To Rationalize
Anxiety and panic attacks are interesting. I had a discussion with someone about anxiety, panic attacks, and medications. I was told by the person that their medications for panic attacks weren't working and they thought their doctor was giving them placebos. The person stated they felt helpless sometimes with stress of things building up and what not and no matter what, the stress would not go away. I then concluded to tell them about my experiences with anxiety and panic attacks and how ultimately my attacks and anxiety often wound up with an urgent conviction death was eminent. I responded that I had been put on Xanax a few months back and it was actually working for me for problems I never considered to be anxiety related problems and I had never even considered anxiety or panic attacks, but thought my problems were due to my asthma. I do get post traumatic stress that often leads to anxiety and ultimately panic attacks. I'm convinced it started a decade ago when I was hospitalized for a severe allergic reaction to Reglan. Something about my body being helpless, muscles hardening, not being able to breathe, hearing the old lady next to me screaming because she had to give a mucus sample to test for pneumonia, swearing at that moment I was going to die at the ripe age of 20, alone and in a cold, sterile ER room strapped to a stretcher. That feeling of remembering what it's like to truly feel like you are going to die. How often I am so physically exhausted, but mentally awake, my body starts to relax as I go to bed - my heart rate slows down as I go into sleep mode, my muscles relax, then my brain notices how long it is between the times my heart beats or I take another breath and I remember: I am going to die now. I pay attention to my breathing and heart rate and try to get it elevated a bit because I am not ready to die yet. Next thing I know, my heart is beating frantically and I am fully awake lying in bed in fear that I am going to die, but my heart is beating fast, so I am alive and fine, but now I will have a heart attack out of fear. I take deep breaths to try and calm myself, sometimes I'll get up, or turn around and hold onto Jesse. I tell myself I'm OK and it's fine. But another part of me is certain I am still dying. And sometimes I do wind up calming down and it's OK and I'll lay in bed awake for a few hours afraid to go to sleep so I don't die. And sometimes, I'll now just take a Xanax or two and calm down and go back to bed. But it's not just in my sleep. Sometimes, when I have a hard time breathing, which I thought was my asthma, but is actually reflux, I would start to have these panic attacks. It would be the same combination of physical rapid heartbeats and mental state of fear and really there is no better way to describe it than fear. The anxiety part is interesting, too. Sometimes, random things will trigger a deep sense of fear on me. I can't explain this fear or why I have it, what I'm afraid of. I just feel fear of something bad happening. I could be sitting doing absolutely nothing and suddenly be overcome by fear. Usually it will only last for a few seconds, maybe a few minutes. Most of the time, I'll get so engulfed trying to figure out why I'm afraid, that I'll completely forget I had that fear. Its a strange phenomena. I am OK with dealing with stress in life, curve balls that are thrown at me, accepting the fact I can't fix things I have no control over and that I should not stress those things. I accept stress. I understand it is a driving force for me to perform at my best. But trying to comprehend how my body goes into fear mode at random or thinking it is about to expire is beyond me. Maybe it's a natural mechanism that all people have.