Hello everyone. I just wanted to give a rundown of my experience with anxiety and why I'm here.
First, the basics: I'm 23 years old and male.
I have always been a nervous person--as a child I was told that I was too serious, too conscientious, a worrywart. My worries have always been out of line with reality, but I never had what anyone would have considered a serious issue until I was a teenager.
Around the age of 15/16, I had my first panic attack, although I didn't know what it was at the time. My heart raced, my head swam--at that moment I had to rush and wake up my entire family so that I could be surrounded by other people, because that was the only way I could feel safe. This episode led to my first expedition into cognitive-behavioral therapy, but we never actually broached the incident, because at the time I was also manifesting characteristics of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and so the panic attack was never addressed.
Fast forward to March 8, 2010, I decided to head to the store to purchase a gift for my grandmother's birthday. I felt a little dizzy and nervous before I even got into the car, but I didn't think much of it. As I drove, I suddenly realized that I was getting dizzier, that I was having chest pains and my heart was racing. I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was going to black out. My mouth went completely dry. My stomach was cramping. My fingers and arms were tingling and going numb. I turned around in the next available driveway and drove home (God only knows how), and ran into the house, demanding that someone call 911 because I was having a heart attack. Instead they gave me a sedative to calm me down, and I arranged to see the doctor later that week. After much discussion and medical tests, it was determined that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. My doctor prescribed Zoloft and a short-term prescription for Ativan, then referred me to a psychiatrist.
Since then, I've been going through CBT again, with moderate success at learning various coping techniques. I still have out-of-control worries and occasional physical symptoms, but I've reached a point where I can breathe my way to calm, even if I can't think my way there. :)
There are no anxiety support groups in my area, so I felt that joining a forum like this would be helpful--to know that there are indeed other people out there who face similar problems and to learn from these individuals how they cope and to share how I do.