Here are my digits! I'm a male 26-year-old college student who first developed anxiety in June of 2010 with a panic attack (that sent me to the E.R. thinking it was a heart attack). Since then my anxiety has taken many forms, retreating for a few months and then returning in some new way to catch me off-guard.
Lately I've developed some sort of strange mix of agoraphobia and hypochondria. I am comfortable at home, and when I feel ill - such as when I have a stomachache, chest pain from heartburn, or a bit of breathlessness - I can easily ride it out. Home feels safe to me, and it's comfortable. No one is around to witness my anxiety, I have a plethora of soft beds and couches to relax on, and I can take life at my own pace.
When I'm out and about, though, is when things fall apart. Walking becomes difficult. I forget how to breathe and end up hyperventilating. I've had to sit down on sidewalks on a hot day with no comfortable chairs, indoor shelter, or shade to be found. It is extremely difficult to relax in those sorts of situations! I just transferred from a smaller community college to the biggest college in the state and the walks between classes are significant! My last school had lots of little swinging benches and quiet tree groves where you could hang out in and relax, but this new campus seems to be made up exclusively of streets, sidewalks, and huge empty fields of grass. There is just nowhere to relax, no coziness, no safety to be found anywhere.
I can keep things together sitting still while outside my home, but walking around - especially outdoors - makes me feel awful. I hyperventilate, my chest tightens up, my lungs start to hurt with every breath, and my stomach turns to squirming lead. I begin to burp constantly, a very strange symptom that leads me to wonder if maybe I have bad gas problems that make breathing more difficult. My legs start to feel weak and eventually I just panic. "I don't want to move another step, but I don't want to be stuck here! I just want to teleport back home, please please please!" is the theme of the thoughts running through my head. It is the worst feeling I've ever felt, stranded somewhere hot and noisy and uncomfortable with huge crowds swarming past and cars honking just a few feet away. I don't want to be there, but I don't want to move, either! I worry that one day an ambulance will have to carry me away once I've 'broken down' somewhere. Thankfully I manage to pick myself back up and locate the nearest bathroom. I sit in a stall for 15-30 minutes, end up with diarrhea (sorry) and finally end up feeling a bit better. However, I've had days in which this happens multiple times, so recovering from one panic is no guarantee I won't have another.
I am not dropping out of school, so I'm wondering what my options are. I am going to see a doctor about my burping, which I have at home too, but it bothers me significantly less there. I'm also going to start seeing a psychologist at my school - it's said we have some good ones. However, I just wanted to check in with the fine ladies and gentlemen of Anxietyzone and see if anyone has gone through anything similar. It would be nice to hear that I'm not alone. I'm quite tired of predicting my own death and 'shutting down' in very uncomfortable places.