I've been doing neurofeedback for a few weeks, and overall I feel better. It's like a fog is lifting off me and I can function again. But these symptoms that I've been calling anxiety attacks are still breaking through. I'm pretty sure they're anxiety related because ...
- I'm overall pretty healthy, and actually feel best when I'm in the middle of an exercise session. In fact, if I can do so, I go for a brisk walk as soon as the symptoms start up. Lying down to rest just prolongs things. Also, I am definitely not losing any weight!
- They come and go, and except for when they're happening, I feel just fine. Today I had the best day I've had in weeks, but am having symptoms again this evening.
- When they happen, I can usually identify an emotional stressor of some kind.
- Proper diet, exercise, and sleep really seem to help.
Then again, they don't quite sound like what I've always thought of as anxiety attacks. Any chest pain has been minimal or nonexistent. I don't sweat. My heart doesn't race or pound as far as I can tell. I can "hold it together" emotionally while it's happening, and generally go about my business without the casual observer noticing anything is wrong. And sometimes they just feel out of the blue; this evening I was heading into the grocery store feeling calm and happy about having felt good so day, looking forward to a 4 day weekend, and I started feeling "off" in the produce aisle. So frustrating!
Here is what I experience at various times and in various combinations:
- Waking up, after being asleep for less than an hour, with the feeling that my heart has stopped. I cough violently, feel panicked, sometimes have to get out of bed and move around to prove to myself that I'm still alive. Then I'm afraid to go back to sleep because I might die in my sleep. It feels awful. But even then, my heart isn't pounding, and I don't think it's racing either.
- Tingling sensations in my scalp and limbs.
- Sometimes my hands feel numb for a few minutes, like a carpal tunnel thing.
- Kind of an ear popping and pressure sensation, like all the air has been sucked out of my sinuses and ears.
- A weird thing with my right eye. Not double vision, not blurry, not painful. Maybe tunnel vision, but I can't quite describe it.
- Strange pressure sensations in my head, kind of a throbbing like you get with a headache, but there's no headache (thank goodness)
- Palpitations that have been checked and pronounced to be of the harmless variety
- A sense of nausea and doom that I have learned signals an attack of diarrhea. For a while I was waking up like this, which was miserable.
- Mild chest pain, relieved by breathing exercises
- Sort of a dizzy sensation. Not quite vertigo, but something's just not right. I want to lean against a nice solid wall.
- Restlessness. If I don't get up and move, I'm afraid I'll pass out or go crazy.
- Feeling like I'm not getting enough air.
To complicate matters, I've been on a couple of different medications to control the (harmless) palpitations over the past six months. First it was a beta blocker, which made me feel sick, and when I followed the doctor's instructions to "just stop taking it" I had quite a miserable time with adrenaline related symptoms that took a couple of weeks to fully calm down. Then it was a calcium channel blocker, which also made me feel sick, so I took my last dose a week ago. Withdrawal from that one hasn't been as bad except for mild cardiovascular symptoms, but I'm now I'm feeling anxious about being off the meds, how they might have permanently altered my body chemistry, whether I can really get by with them, if my blood pressure is now rebounding sky high and I'm about to have a stroke, etc. I SO wish the doctor had suggested anxiety treatment six months ago, rather than just throwing a pill at me.
I'm just wondering if all of this really, truly sounds like anxiety. I'm glad the neurotherapy is helping me feel more like my old self, but feeling discouraged that these symptoms are still breaking through. Makes me wonder if they're actually anxiety related, or if maybe something really is wrong.