I have recently been diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks, which seemed to come on out of the blue at age 37. I am struggling to come to terms with this, as well as to conquer this and get my old self back! I miss her! I used to be so confident and rock solid, and now I am soooo not. Now I have recurring feelings of panic more and more frequently, especially when I have down time and should feel better. I am sometimes scared I am losing my mind because this feels so foreign to me. I can look back on my childhood and see that I had anxiety and separation issues then, as well as unnecessary fears of getting ill or hurt. But by puberty these things were long gone. I had nothing even remotely resembling anxiety until the last 2 years, but at first it was infrequent and I thought it was something I ate, dehydration, sinus, whatever. Finally I went to my doc who said, you have anxiety and sent me to a very nice therapist who agreed, and said I described having panic attacks perfectly. I guess I was in denial.
My Symptoms: usually my heart does NOT race nor do I feel like I can't breathe. What I experience is the sudden flash of jitteriness, like adrenaline just shot out of my adrenals and is rapidly zipping through me. Sudden rush of fear - thinking am I losing it? Tingling hands and feet sometimes, frequent tingling or "crawling" scalp, especially the top of my head, muscle tension (neck and jaw and shoulders), dizziness, weakness and lightheadedness so I feel like I could get either full-blown vertigo or faint (never have though), and the sense that I am super aware of my heart even if it is behaving normally. Dr. says I tend to hyperventilate so I am working diligently on breathing.
I am reading a few anxiety books, trying to get back in a regular pattern of seeing my therapist since the feelings are getting worse & more frequent, and I am trying every day at least 2-3 times to work on my breathing. Problem is, I have gotten in a habit of waking up after a lovely nights' sleep thinking, "Am I feeling it coming? Will I get panicky today? I can fight this!! Go me! Wait, can I really do this? Not sure...there goes my tingling head....oh no, here we go again, another day." So I know I am totally perpetuating this, right, by these thoughts? I am essentially setting myself up for it. I am at a loss for how to break this bad mental habit.
Any thoughts would be appreciated on all this. Thanks. I am happy to have found hopefully a good community to discuss this, as I never have really talked about it outside the therapist's office before.