My Anxiety started in the summer of 2010 while on a post high school graduation trip to California with a few close friends, I hadn't had much contact with spice (synthetic marijuana, absolutely idiotic to smoke it) or marijuana. I was oblivious to the potential dangers of spice (as were most people), took a couple large hits and a few seconds later total panic set in. I was lying on the balcony asking for an ambulance, heart rate was hovering around 200 BPM, this was it for me, it thought it was all over. My amazing parents would be devastated; their lives would be crushed thinking that they raised a son to be silly enough to OD on a brand new drug. The panic gradually lessened and I started to enjoy myself, and then went to bed later on, still pretty shaken up from the whole ordeal. The rest of the trip went on like usual, slightly hazy the whole time though, almost like I wasn't all there or taking in any individual moments. A few weeks after the trip my family and I went on a roadtrip to Telluride, CO, a lovely town winter and summer town. During one of the first days there I went on a hike with my grandparents who were visiting from the UK (I grew up in England). During the hike is where I first felt what some people call "cardiophobia," or the idea a cardiac arrest/heart attack could happen at any moment. This made the rest of the trip miserable; I would go to bed several nights believing I wouldn't wake up in the morning; that my heart would just give out in the night. When we got back home I was adamant on getting an EGK, Echocardiogram, holter monitor, the whole nine. Everything checked out perfectly, so why was I still worried? It didn't add up. A couple days after my tests, I decided to hang out with my buddies who wanted to smoke some weed. I was under the impression that only the spice could make me feel paranoid and have a panic attack, weed should be fine. I was mistaken. I had another full-blown panic attack, I woke my mother up and told her I was having an anxiety attack (without mentioning the weed) and wanted to check my blood pressure. It was definitely unhealthily high, but that's not uncommon for someone having a panic attack. Still panicking, I told my mom I had chest pains and needed her to drive me to the hospital. We went and I got admitted quickly because of my symptoms. The doctor immediately was suspicious that I had taken drugs, he had seen several cases just that week of people coming in for spice induced panic attacks (even though in my case it was weed). I told him I had smoked spice, because in my fucked up state I thought I could get in legal trouble if it was weed (obviously incorrect) They saw my blood pressure level and heart rate and gave me some heavy muscle relaxers intravenously to reduce my blood pressure and HR. I stayed overnight and was observed and tested with blood tests and chest xrays, as even through my sleep my heart rate was about 140 BPM. I got a stern talking to by my parents after being released the next morning; my mom was on the verge of tears because of how worried she was about me. I had my first non-substance related panic attack a few weeks later at a friendís house, resulting from playing basketball and an increased heart rate that worried me. I dropped everything and called my dad to pick me up. I was in full-blown panic mode when he picked me up, we went home and checked my BP but it was completely fine. That settled me down a bit; I did some breathing exercises with my dad and eventually snapped out of it. The rest of the summer I had some day-to-day cardiophobia, but no panic attacks. Through my freshman year of college I was panic attack free, even played some inter mural flag football, the increased heart rate bothered me but nothing inducing panic. Fast forward to first semester of sophmore year, I had driven up to an event in Anaheim with a friend of a friend who was a dumbass and fell for all these ponzi get rich quick schemes. Right at the beginning of the conference I started to have a panic attack, I had been drinking the night before which definitely influenced it, as well as the big room with all these hyper energetic people clapping and wooing at everything this sweaty bald guy had to say on stage. I freaked out and went outside to call my dad, telling him I was panicking and thinking of calling an ambulance. He talked me out of it and I just stayed outside of the event until it was over (like 5 hours). About a week later I had a panic attack in class and had to leave to call my dad again, after about an hour on the phone hadn't helped, I called campus safety to get me an ambulance, I thought I was going to have a cardiac arrest. I went in the ambulance to the hospital, pretty high blood pressure again. The doc gave me a benzo and I was ok after ten minutes. This was when I knew a needed to seek help. I was referred to a psychiatrist by the school doctors and went to that, he prescribed 15 0.5 mg xanax to use as needed, and 20 mg paxil. I was panic free, but the general anxiety would come back and forth in waves for the next 18 months and i ended up increasing to 30 mg. I have had great stints with very little anxiety, and some bad periods as well. Drinking excessively on paxil is not recommended but I do go out at least once a week and have a few too many. The hangovers usually cause very bad anxiety and I usually take one 0.5 mg xanax, occasionally I take 1 mg if I feel panic coming. The general anxiety these days usually revolves around fears about my brain... having an aneurysm, stroke, etc. I come from a healthy family so these fears are unwarranted, but I'm sure you all here know that it doesn't make a difference whether something is likely to happen or not, the anxiety persists. I've been on the paxil for about 32 months now, my doc says as soon as I graduate and find a full time job I can start thinking about tapering off, an idea that itself brings some anxiety.
If you read all of this, I am extremely appreciative! Any comments/suggestions/support is welcome, thanks again!