Hey guys, I posted here a long long time ago, my introduction thread is probably still up. I meant to post this ages ago but I got busy, and now I feel selfish for not giving back. Better late than never I hope! Long story short, I was constantly in fear of a heart attack for around 6 months straight (symptoms were palpitations, sharp chest pains, heart burn, all the good chest stuff) had multiple panic attacks, had to take off work, made several doctor visits, failed a course in school, multiple nervous meltdowns where I'd just cry and not know what to do. Anyways, since then I've pieced everything back together, and I'm fully confident if it came back that I could get through it again (this actually helps it not come back, the fear of not being able to live the life you want to live only compounds the fear that's already there).
I really, really recommend you read the book "Hope and Help for your Nerves" by Claire Weekes. This is the one that got me through it. I never took any medication, but that's entirely up to you, I'm not a doctor or anything. Basically, I did the following several times over:
- Feel the panic - let it burn through you. Feel it at it's worst, fully. Accept it. One key moment for me was sitting in class, when I felt that familiar heart palpitation. My stomach turned and my whole body just filled with adrenaline, every instinct told me to just get the hell out of there, but I sat there and just felt my body go white hot. It passed through me, and once I figured that that's the worst it can do to you, it helped me a lot. You have to be okay with the anxiety, like FULLY okay with it.
- Logic it out on paper - Every time I thought my heart was gonna explode, and it started to get bad, I'd pull out a sheet of paper, make two columns, one under panic disorder, and the other under heart attack. The panic disorder had about 20 symptoms under it and heart attack had maybe 1. You can't trust your head to do this on it's own (or at least I couldn't), write it down. You might even have a laugh at your silly thoughts once you do this (temporarily)
- Visit the doctor - you're never going to accept it's just anxiety disorder unless you visit your doctor. Once he or she tells you you're okay, trust them.
- Defy it - Whatever you're afraid of, go at whatever pace you can do and do it. Ease into it. Avoidance is only going to build more fear. In my case, it was a heart attack. One day I went for a 20 minute run, I just didn't care, I was suffering enough. I went into an all out sprint, and was still fine. My heart was fine. This stuff helps.
The most important thing of all is to remember that it's not an instant cure, it's not easy, and it takes lots of tries and practice. I fell on my bum many times, one really bad attack in particular, but I got over it faster than my previous one. Don't get discouraged. Then the next one faster than that. Then I was at a point where other things in life finally took priority over it, because it was at a liveable level. After some more time, I didn't think about panic at all, other than how much that time period sucked but how proud I am for getting through it. Read that book guys, I hope maybe I helped at least one person with this post.