Hi AnxietyZone. I tend to be a verbose person, but I'll do my best to keep things as short as I can! For background, I'm male and 26 years old.
2013 up until the beginning of August was a very good time for me. My anxiety was well under control, and even though I had a few panic attacks out of the blue, I felt like a real pro at handling them. I defused them quickly, and within 30 minutes it was back to life as usual. But around the 7th of August, I started to feel really bad both physically and mentally. I started having stomach troubles - bloating, belching, chest and abdominal pain, sleepless nights with terrible cramps, and frequent episodes of shortness of breath. I went to the doctor and had an endoscopy done, and I was diagnosed with 'mild gastritis'. When I read my diagnosis, I was dumbfounded! Over the course of those first 5 weeks, there were probably two-dozen different occasions on which I felt so awful and scared that I was convinced I was about to die. Then, in the end, it turns out to be 'mild gastritis'. To this day I still don't know how much was 'real' and how much was 'anxiety'.
Even after I started feeling better, though, I keep alternating between anxiety and sadness. When I get anxious, it's usually kicked off by a worrying physical symptom - a pain in my chest lasting a couple minutes, dizziness, a pressure headache at the top of my head, or acid reflux. It just seems like I don't just feel 'a little bad' anymore. When there's a pain in my chest, it's always horrible. When I feel dizzy, it feels like I'm about to pass out. When I have a headache, I'm convinced I'm about to have some sort of brain hemorrhage. I can never just feel bad for a while, it always has to be the end of the world for me. I've survived dozens of my own predicted deaths, so you would think I'd learn to stop panicking whenever I feel bad, but trying to stay positive through the pain/discomfort hasn't really worked for me yet. I feel like I can get half of my brain to be positive, but the other half keeps thinking things like "trying to smile and be positive won't keep you from dying" and "what does it matter if you don't die this time, tomorrow you'll feel terrible again, and the day after too, and your life will be miserable".
When I'm not anxious, I feel quite sad. I wonder what the point to life is when I don't enjoy things very much anymore. My favorite thing in the world is getting caught up in a good story - books, television, movies, video games. I love escapism. I also love writing and plan on writing a novel before I'm out of my 20s! When I feel good, I love knowing that there are so many great stories out there that I'll never have time for them all. There's so many! But when I feel anxious and sad, like I have lately, I don't enjoy my hobbies anymore. Now, instead of having too much to choose from being a good thing, it's a sad thing. Whenever I sit down to try and have fun with a book or movie or video game, I just feel like I'm going through the motions. I don't really enjoy them anymore. It feels like I'm just trying to distract myself from any number of bad things - trying to distract myself from the horrible illness that has gone undetected by the doctors, trying to distract myself from some terrible upcoming depression, trying to distract myself from mortality.
About once a day, usually in the afternoon or early evening (it can happen anytime from 3 PM to 9PM), I feel very strange and tired. It's a weird kind of tired, though. My body begins to feel sluggish and unreal, while my brain kicks into high gear. I love getting sleepy late at night because my brain slows down too - that 2-hour period right before bed is when I feel my best. But during my afternoon slumps, there is no way I could ever fall asleep. I become very sad, very negative about my health, and I can't focus on anything. On really bad days, I also start to feel nauseous, bloated, dizzy and/or anxious. I try to get all my daily chores and work done before the late afternoon because if I have to do anything while I feel bad, even something as simple as take the trash out to the curb, I cannot stop my brain from worrying that I will collapse and die during the task. I don't know why. I just feel so weak. Usually the feeling lasts anywhere from 1-3 hours (on the worst days of all it has lasted over 4 hours, but that's rate). Naturally I worry that these afternoon slumps are signs of something like an unknown cancer or brain tumor or something. When I feel a little more rational, I wonder about diabetes. But according to my blood tests, everything looks fine.
Leaving the house is pretty difficult for me too. I once had a bout of agoraphobia that lasted a couple months, but I felt like I had beat it. Now, it might be back, but it feels different. Whereas before, the fear of going outside was entirely in my head (besides the heart palpitations that accompanied it), now it starts with physical symptoms - stomach cramps, sharp chest pains that feel like shards of glass under my ribs, dizziness, shortness of breath and bad breathing, and various other things. It's like a weird combination of hypochondria and agoraphobia - leaving the house makes me feel physically ill. The terrible sensations then cause a ton of anxiety and then I wind up feeling awful both physically and mentally. I feel so fragile when I leave the house, like a jellyfish or something. Instead of feeling confident in how sturdy and miraculous my body is, I end up feeling like I'm some sort of thin bag filled with a haphazard assortment of easily-harmed organs that could easily shut down on me at any point.
Anyway, despite my best efforts I've typed way too much, and it still feels like I've only summed things up in the most basic of ways! I guess, basically, what I'm going through is that there doesn't feel like there's a point to my life right now. I'm anxious and I feel physically ill a lot of the time, and even when I feel okay, I can't focus on the things I used to enjoy. It seems like my life is half "why does my chest hurt, ugh i feel so weak, can i be sure this is just anxiety or could it be something terrible" and half "well i feel okay physically but what's the point of trying to watch this movie or read this book, i'm not really enjoying it like i would if i felt better, i guess i'll just force myself to keep going until the next time i feel sick and anxious". I sometimes think about dying. I'd never do anything to myself - I fear death a lot, but when things get really bad sometimes I just feel like I'd be okay if I just suddenly stopped existing. Life has lost its color for me lately.
Due to my stomach health issues recently I don't have any money to go see a psychologist. It seems like every time I have some money, it ends up going to a physical health doctor, and I end up with no money to see a psychologist even though I've been wanting to ever since I developed anxiety/panic disorder back in summer 2010. So, in the meantime, is there anything I can do to feel better? Any hints, tips, advice? Any good books or programs I can look at? Thank you all so
much and I'm sorry for going on for so long. It's just that my problem feels so complex and frustrating and it's been affecting me for over two months now, and try as I might I couldn't fit it all into only a couple paragraphs.
Thank you again and I hope you all are doing well.