You're definitely not alone, bridgesc.
3 months ago I had my first seriously bad panic attack. I felt like my head was going to explode, my arms got numb, I had tunnel vision, somehow I also felt detached from my body, and it felt like I could not breathe or swallow at all. I did not know what was happening so I was screaming for someone to help me and I was shaking a lot. The severest part came and went in around 10 seconds but after I still had some of the symptoms. (I went to the doctor the next day, they did some tests and everything was normal and they said it was anxiety) Ever since then I haven't been the same and I've had more panic attacks.
This sounds exactly what I felt a long time ago when I was dealing with the new experiences of derealisation. The issue for us is that we realise that we are experiencing these symptoms and sensations but we stress ourselves even more that causes heightened levels of anxiety. It's good that you're recognising what going on with your body as self-awareness is the first step in managing your anxiety and associated symptoms.
The worst part is the derealization, or that's what I think it is. It's been constant ever since that first panic attack. I feel like I'm not completely in reality and I keep questioning what reality is. I'm afraid to do anything for fear I'll completely lose touch with myself. I feel like my body isn't mine and that one day I'm going to disappear into thin air. It never stops, it doesn't go away. It will lessen sometimes and it will worsen sometimes, which typically leads to a panic attack. I don't know how much longer I can handle this. If I'm supposed to live like this my whole life then what's the point? Normal tasks are so hard now because I feel so detached. Please somebody help me.
I know how you feel since I went through it. I find it that derealisation is the most difficult thing to describe - reality checking is intact; nothing has truly changed and that's why it's the feelings
of unreality that cause us discomfort. I kept questioning my surroundings, the people I was with and the things I was seeing.
The element that's causing all this is our hyper-vigilance to our feelings, environment and symptoms. We're always unnecessarily scanning about whether things are real or not and it's a paradox - the more we try to fight and suppress that sense of derealisation, the worse it gets.
Let me tell you something: the turning point for me was acceptance and acknowledgement of the derealisation. This isn't a systematic or linear process - it's not as easy as accepting it and magically feeling better overnight. It takes time and your perseverance to change the relationship you have with your feelings and symptoms. The derealisation and anxiety will ease gradually when you let things naturally be and work with it, not continually struggle with it. I assure you that what you are feeling is not dangerous - I have been through it and now am rid of that time of my life.
Just curious, are you seeing a psychologist at the moment?