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Offline rinai

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I Need Help.
« on: March 10, 2014, 08:10:41 PM »
I've been reading through these forums over the last few months, and although many of you experience the same things as I do, I feel as though I need to share my story as the first step to coping with my panic disorder and GAD.

I have been a worrier all my life, suffering from anxiety attacks from age 4. As a little girl, it manifested itself as the inability to speak. When I got scared, I would freeze up and could not speak. In elementary school, I was bullied. In the 5th grade, the anxiety kicked in again, but this time, it manifested itself as nausea. I would get so nauseous each and every morning before school due to my anxiety. It randomly went away.
Over the years, I became the most social and outgoing person. I was constantly out, constantly working, constantly partying - I was barely ever home. I thrived off of the energy in large groups of people, so much so that I got a job in the nightlife industry. I worked with a huge nightlife marketing and promotional group - this meant I was always at clubs and different functions.

Around a year ago, I became depressed, which seemed as though it came out of nowhere. I couldn't go to class and would spend my days sleeping - only to come alive at night (designated party time). My doctor put me on Effexor. This is when I experienced my first panic attack. It hit me out of nowhere, and it left me absolutely terrified. At this point, I had no idea that it was anxiety related, and I had never been on an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication, so I thought it might just be a side effect from the drug. I was at a healthy weight, and craved being around people.

Fast forward 4 months - in August, I had another panic attack. The difference between August and 4 months prior, is that my lifestyle had started to take its toll on me. From binge drinking on a weekly basis, to barely getting any sleep, and a very poor (almost nonexistent) diet, I was starting to get into pretty rough shape. This second panic attack actually happened while I was intoxicated. The one and only thought in my mind was 'I'm dying. Someone call my mother and tell her I love her.' Luckily, I was at home with my boyfriend when it hit, so he closely monitored me and made sure I was okay. Needless to say, I did not have a single alcoholic beverage after that night.

After that 2nd attack I was truly afraid of what was going on with me. I started to develop the fear of experiencing another attack, and at that point, I didn't even know that it was a panic attack that I was experiencing. Because of this fear, it started happening more often (at least once every 2 weeks).
In November of 2013, I woke up one morning and started my day in the most productive way possible. I was up early, organized myself for the day ahead, and picked up breakfast on my way to class. Somewhere between getting breakfast and getting to class, I started having heart palpitations. Because I had started the day off pretty positively, I didn't make much of it, and blamed it on running for the streetcar. A couple of hours passed and the heart palpitations didn't stop. At that point, I realized I needed to get out of class and get help. I immediately left and made a beeline for home. As soon as I got there, I explained to my boyfriend that I had been having heart palpitations all morning, and suddenly the most intense panic attack I had had up until that point hit me. My immediate response was to go to the hospital - which was absolutely no help.

To make a long story short - since November, I have experienced multiple panic attacks a day. I quit my job, and stopped going to school. I moved out of my downtown apartment, and moved back home with my mom. I've been rushed to the emergency room several times due to my panic attacks. I've lost roughly 25 lbs since it began to intensify. I've gone so far as to check into a psych ward (which did nothing but give me more anxiety). I have days where I feel totally normal, and days (like today) where I'm in a constant state of realization, and all I want to do is burst into tears. I've tried CBT (my therapist was more disorganized than I am, so that didn't help), and I've also tried Cipralex (also didn't work because I was diagnosed with Serotonin Syndrome). Even on the days where I feel most normal, I am unable to leave home. I've attempted both going down the street, as well as heading to the mall downtown - both situations have left me bursting into tears and rushing home. My anxiety/panic/depression has gotten so bad that I'm unable to even settle myself at home now. Initially, reading about other people having the same experience gave me a sense of relief, but at this point, my fear is so strong that I feel as though my life is over. I have this constant fear of either dropping dead or just going completely insane. I'm at my absolute wits end, and I don't know if it's even possible to try to cope anymore. I just want nothing more than to be back to my normal social, and outgoing self. I want to be able to get out of bed. I want to be able to leave home. I want to live.
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Offline Potatoes

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Re: I Need Help.
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2014, 08:49:27 PM »
I have been a worrier all my life, suffering from anxiety attacks from age 4. As a little girl, it manifested itself as the inability to speak. When I got scared, I would freeze up and could not speak. In elementary school, I was bullied. In the 5th grade, the anxiety kicked in again, but this time, it manifested itself as nausea. I would get so nauseous each and every morning before school due to my anxiety. It randomly went away.
Over the years, I became the most social and outgoing person. I was constantly out, constantly working, constantly partying - I was barely ever home. I thrived off of the energy in large groups of people, so much so that I got a job in the nightlife industry. I worked with a huge nightlife marketing and promotional group - this meant I was always at clubs and different functions.

I grew up in a similar way, although I never really had much of the attacks as I did just a social anxiety, I was very shy and was quite the people pleaser, very passive... but as I aged on into my teen ages I become a little more resilient, as I hung out with friends and "forced" past my fears and anxiety and went out, did the whole night party thing and loved it. bein' the badass back in the day. but as I hit the late year of being 21 I began to bounce back to my old ways of anxiety in a more adult form, I was being irrational, that is a battle I'm fighting right now, at the age of 22.

My doctor put me on Effexor. This is when I experienced my first panic attack. It hit me out of nowhere, and it left me absolutely terrified. At this point, I had no idea that it was anxiety related, and I had never been on an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication, so I thought it might just be a side effect from the drug.

More than likely this is the case, most doctors will start you at a sub-theraputic dosage that will keep the initial side effects down, but as the drug begins to set in the body, the initial take off is rough, your anxiety will spike through the roof, same here when I started Zoloft a little over a month ago, I had back to back attacks that I had NEVER experienced before.

Fast forward 4 months - in August, I had another panic attack. The difference between August and 4 months prior, is that my lifestyle had started to take its toll on me. From binge drinking on a weekly basis, to barely getting any sleep, and a very poor (almost nonexistent) diet, I was starting to get into pretty rough shape. This second panic attack actually happened while I was intoxicated. The one and only thought in my mind was 'I'm dying. Someone call my mother and tell her I love her.'

Are you still on the Effexor? Has your dosage been adjusted or has your doctor/psych choose to maintain the dosage that you were on? once you get over the first launch of it (6-12 weeks I think) you might have panned back out to feeling your way prior to starting it, which might indicate an uppage in dosage, have you spoke with your doc about this?

Sorry to hear about the panic attack while intoxicated, do you recall what might have triggered it? was it in fear of anything or a thought that might have triggered it? That's got to be a crazy ride to go through, I usually become loosened when drinking alcohol, especially in social situations (like bars and stuff) but when I'm sober I hardly can go in there without feeling like I'm about to kill over with anxiety.


After that 2nd attack I was truly afraid of what was going on with me. I started to develop the fear of experiencing another attack, and at that point, I didn't even know that it was a panic attack that I was experiencing. Because of this fear, it started happening more often (at least once every 2 weeks).

fear and mind battles are nasty, it does not take much to turn them into a snowball effect of variable battles. Once you start turning the gears on the mind, sometimes it gets to spinning so fast you can't grab the handle.

In November of 2013, I woke up one morning and started my day in the most productive way possible. I was up early, organized myself for the day ahead, and picked up breakfast on my way to class. Somewhere between getting breakfast and getting to class, I started having heart palpitations. Because I had started the day off pretty positively, I didn't make much of it, and blamed it on running for the streetcar. A couple of hours passed and the heart palpitations didn't stop.

Is there any anxiety-triggering going on with your classes? Were you comfortable in the classroom setting? I had a hard time going to mine the first time around but it started to pan out. It's hard to think of what causes stuff when they initially happen at times, but if you look back at it, sometimes you'll see what may have caused it.
To make a long story short - since November, I have experienced multiple panic attacks a day. I quit my job, and stopped going to school. I moved out of my downtown apartment, and moved back home with my mom.

Were these attacks coming out of nowhere or again, were there any triggers? (sorry to be reptitive)

Even on the days where I feel most normal, I am unable to leave home. I've attempted both going down the street, as well as heading to the mall downtown - both situations have left me bursting into tears and rushing home. My anxiety/panic/depression has gotten so bad that I'm unable to even settle myself at home now. Initially, reading about other people having the same experience gave me a sense of relief, but at this point, my fear is so strong that I feel as though my life is over. I have this constant fear of either dropping dead or just going completely insane. I'm at my absolute wits end, and I don't know if it's even possible to try to cope anymore. I just want nothing more than to be back to my normal social, and outgoing self. I want to be able to get out of bed. I want to be able to leave home. I want to live.

I am sorry to hear about what you're going through, and it's hard at times to see an "out" to these situations because it's not like throwing a band-aid over a little cut on your arm. These things build up, they bottle up... and the more it adds it's more to look back on which develops more lack of self-worth. You can pull yourself out of this and I know you can. Don't try to do it.... just straight do it. It's easier said that done, but do whatever you have to do and follow through with it. Nobody said it would be easy, but the reward at the end is much better.

I'm glad to see you on here seeking support, and I hope you find your "out" and carry through living a happier life. Anxiety has knocked you down, maybe a 100 times. but You've stood up 99 times prior to that, you just gotta get up again and find a new way to face these situations with all that you got, until you become accustomed to it and it no longer effects you as greatly.


It sounds like you've been taking a medicated route. I highly suggest speaking with a Psychiatrist as soon as you can schedule one and let them know what's REALLY going on. Tell them how you REALLY feel and they will do their best to help. If you feel they are incompetent to your needs, then you find somebody else who is. There will be one out there that will suit you.

Sorry to hear CBT didn't work out, but if you do decide to go back to school or if you are currently attending, see if they have a Therapist on staff. This will be free to you (as it is most likely included in your tuition).

Therapy is hard. and it's very slow and progressive, but it is great way of understanding your own mind and finding ways to self-control these behaviors.

You're a strong individual because you've shown that you have pushed through this for so long and you're reaching your hand out for help. There is a way out there always is.

Keep me updated.

Take care.
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Offline rinai

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Re: I Need Help.
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2014, 02:53:10 AM »
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I realize I was kind of babbling on.

I stopped taking Effexor about a month after I started. My anxiety and depression has always been really all over the place (as have I, clearly). Things just started to get better for me I guess, and I decided I didn't need the Effexor, and that I was on a great path which would increase my overall happiness - and I was. I was on an awesome path and had an awesome job. I've actually avoided medication as much as possible. Ever since I developed panic disorder, I've just been way too afraid of how my body will react with different chemicals - the Cipralex incident definitely didn't give me any reassurance either. Between my family, my boyfriend, doctors, friends - everyone's asked me 'Well, what triggers it?' and that's the one question I can never seem to answer. My life has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride - to put it lightly - but I've generally been the strongest person. I've always been the person that everyone leans on and everyone turns to in moments of weakness. I've never been on the other end of that, like I am now. I can never pin point exactly what triggers my attacks, and it just adds to my frustration to think about the fact that I've never been the one to break down and ask for help. I know I shouldn't be, but I'm almost embarrassed to even bring it up to anyone anymore, because every conversation leads to people talking about how much they miss the way I used to be, and how this is so unlike me. I've tried talking to people about any little fear I can think of, I've tried writing it out, and at points I've tried to just brush things off, but nothing seems to really help.

I almost feel like I've just totally lost the ability to think rationally at this point.
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Offline hopeful78

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Re: I Need Help.
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2014, 08:12:38 AM »
What about self-care? I think if you start to eat well and stop the drinking at least for a while, that will help you get into a better place where you can start treating this. Finding a good therapist and perhaps a med that helps, even if only temporarily...
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Offline rinai

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Re: I Need Help.
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2014, 01:32:19 PM »
I completely stopped drinking in August, have not had so much as even a glass of wine since. As far as my eating, since returning home I've been forced into a set routine of eating (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks in between).
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Offline Tal

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Re: I Need Help.
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2014, 01:54:45 PM »
I urge you to see a psychiatrist first. As much as you are afraid of chemicals and medications, it is very necessary that you are under the care of a doctor and on medication. I struggled for a long time without a medication, was always afraid of my heart acting up, but finally I gave in and was on Lexapro for a long while... It really helped me with day to day panic attacks and I can say that after years of suffering, I have more good days now than bad ones. It takes a good 6 to 8 weeks to feel the difference but an SSRI is a very good med to help you normalize your life.

Next to meds, CBT is very essential. The two together will empower you and help you lead a normal life. You were not kind to your body and mind for a long time and need to have a new and improved lifestyle. You can do it!! I have seen and chatted with many anxiety sufferers and most of them have gotten better and din't come to thissite anymore.

Please consider the SSRI, and look into a therapist as well. Sometimes, you see couple before you are comfortable with the right therapist for you.

Wishing you all the best and sending you healing thoughts your way!

Tal
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Offline rinai

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Re: I Need Help.
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2014, 05:17:24 PM »
The issue with medication and my fear behind taking medication is that I have serotonin syndrome, therefore SSRI's are essentially toxic to my system. I had to rush to the ER on my 2nd day of Cipralex because I had a toxic reaction to it.
As far as therapists go, I'm just afraid it won't work. In my CBT sessions, I was just asked about what happened throughout the week between sessions, and at one point decided on 'exposure therapy'. I was given exercises such as 'shake your head rapidly from side to side for 1 minute. Record symptoms. Did this scare you?' or 'Sprint on the spot for 2 minutes. Record symptoms. Did this scare you?'. None of this did anything to help with the fear of the symptoms I get when I have a panic attack.
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Offline Tal

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Re: I Need Help.
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2014, 05:52:40 PM »
Rinae,

There must be some type of help for you even with serotonin syndrome. You need something to give you some relief of anxiety and fear. I still feel that a good psychiatrist would be able to guide through some other route. Don't give up hope. Do your research. You can also write on the medication forum. There is a very knowledgable person called Insight who usually respond to posts.

Tal
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Offline Potatoes

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Re: I Need Help.
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2014, 06:30:28 PM »
everyone's asked me 'Well, what triggers it?' and that's the one question I can never seem to answer.

And sometimes you may never really know the answer to it, as you stated below and as I kind of contradict myself in my previous post, Sometimes it is better to just press forward and learn as you go, It's kind of like paddling against the current, It's not going to get you anywhere but tired, not to mention the wasted time and frustration.

My life has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride - to put it lightly - but I've generally been the strongest person. I've always been the person that everyone leans on and everyone turns to in moments of weakness.

I know it's overused and cliche, but think of all you've gone through, to see another person suffer you have an very strong sense of empathy for them. You're able to pick them up, because you know what it's like to fall down. That's never anything to frown upon. Everybody struggles, but not everybody is there for anybody either.

I know I shouldn't be, but I'm almost embarrassed to even bring it up to anyone anymore, because every conversation leads to people talking about how much they miss the way I used to be, and how this is so unlike me. I've tried talking to people about any little fear I can think of, I've tried writing it out, and at points I've tried to just brush things off, but nothing seems to really help.

That's very frustrating - But you've got to see it from their perspective... they don't know what's going on and they don't know how you feel... sometimes you've just got to take it with a grain of salt. Society isn't nice at times. We can be judgemental, we can be empathetic, and we can be straight ruthless. They might not understand that a simple sentence like "I miss the way you used to be" can be a thorn in the heel of one's foot. You've got to accept that sometimes people say things they shouldn't say... as do you, as do I, and that's OK because that's just how the world turns. I wouldn't take it to heart, love them to death, but this situation isn't about them... Those who stick it out with you to the end show their true sides. And at the end of the day, they most likely will.

As for all of them methods that you've tried, it may seem like an impossible battle to fight... But let me tell you. If it can be brought into this world, it can be broken, if it can be broken, it can be fixed. You might find the answer to solve all of your problems tonight or 10 years from now.. It just boils down to how willing you are to overcome this. You can do it.

Keep me updated.
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Offline rinai

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Re: I Need Help.
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2014, 10:13:21 PM »
I think what makes it the hardest for me is as soon as I start to feel normal, I freak out. I think it's because I'm not used to feeling normal anymore, so much so that the second I start to feel any sort of normality, it all just transfer into derealization. So I'm constantly in a state of derealization which only brings the cycle of panic back.
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