Hello, this is my first time posting here. Apologies if this post is too long, I am grateful to anyone who finds the time to read through this and offer me some guidance.
My first full blown experience with anxiety attacks began about 18 months ago whilst I was out with my husband and friends. We were riding the train at night time and all of a sudden this overwhelming sense of dread came over me. Within a matter of seconds I went from having a normal conversation to being frozen in a heightened state of panic, a cold sweat came over me and I felt intense nausea deep in the pit of my stomach. My attention shifted onto the train doors as I became acutely aware that I couldn't get off the train. Not wanting to attract attention to myself, I tried to make eye contact with my husband and covertly grab his attention to tell him something was seriously wrong (using eye contact, instead of saying it out loud, if that makes sense). Unfortunately, another friend noticed my face had turned grey and asked me if I was feeling OK. At that moment I said no and that I needed to get off the train immediately, I started to hyperventilate and ran to the doors and waited anxiously for us to arrive at the next stop. Everyone followed and we all got off the train and I began to make up some excuse saying I felt like I going to vomit and that's why I had to get off. Everyone was really sweet but I felt like a liar and a fraud not being able to explain the real sensations I had experienced.
From that day on I began to experience these anxiety attacks on a regular basis. It would usually be triggered by that horrible feeling deep in my stomach, I would feel my stomach 'drop', so to speak, then a cascade of other symptoms would immediately follow. I would often feel I was either going to vomit or defecate immediately and so I would become more panicked thinking I needed to get to a bathroom ASAP. I did everything I could to keep my anxiety a secret. My husband and mother knew but aside from that I didn't really tell anyone. I would just constantly make up excuses when it would start.
After months of living with this I was willing to try anything to make it go away, I had made a few trips to the doctors but most of the time came away feeling much worse. I enrolled in a course of hypnotherapy, I tried acupuncture too but what seemed to help me most was reading self-help books. Everything started to look up and although at the time I would never have said the words out loud for fear of jinxing myself, but I did grow to feel that I had 'cured' myself of my anxiety disorder. As the weeks, months, year passed I did eventually share with people what I had experienced and everyone was shocked and had no idea.
Fast forward 18 months to the present day... in the past 3 weeks my anxiety has returned with A VENGEANCE!! I feel like it has knocked me sideways and I am drowning in it when it comes on and overwhelms me. The culminating event happened yesterday evening when I was out with a large group of friends in a busy restaurant and I pretty much got up and walked out and went home. My anxiety started whilst I was eating the main course and within a matter of moments it was unbearable. I had intrusive thoughts going around my head about a millions miles an hour, thoughts mostly focusing on 'what will people think if I just get up and walk out', 'people will think you're insane if you just get up and leave without explanation' and all sorts of other things mainly centered around the people I was with/other people in the restaurant thinking I am crazy. Anyway eventually it got too much and I put money on the table, got up and left and got a taxi home. When I got home I just broke down!! I don't recall ever being that upset before. Since then I have been a teary mess and just can't seem to pull myself together. I feel overwhelmed with sadness, frustration and embarrassment over what happened and that mainly this has all resurfaced in my life again. I just feel like all my hard work has failed and that I am back to square one again.
I should mention as well that when my anxiety has been coming over me recently the previous techniques I applied 18 months ago are not working. I am trying to 'welcome' my anxiety when it comes, embrace it instead of being scared. Other techniques like focusing on the physical sensations in the body also haven't been working either. Has anybody else had a similar experience to be of their anxiety returning after a long time for no apparent reason? Also, how can I shake this sadness that is smothering me at the moment, I cannot stop crying.
Thank you for anyone who has stuck with it and read this whole post, sorry it's so long but believe it or not this is the condensed version. appreciate any advice or support given. - Thank you.