Hello Anxiety Zone!
My name is Janice and I am learning to cope and hopefully cure my health anxiety. I have always been a sensitive, empathetic, kind, caring (often too much!) person that had the unfortunate situation of being brought up in an alcoholic/rage-aholic home. This sensitivity didn't cope very well with the uncertainty and abuse of that situation and I was often prone to night terrors as a child. Now, at age 39, I'm fully understanding the impact these factors had on how I cope with stressful situations.
In 1999, I had my first full-blown panic attack where I woken by my heart racing and thought I was having a heart attack. I drove myself to the hospital, was given a full battery of tests, all of which came out normal. Phew! Unfortunately, it didn't stop there.
A few months earlier, I had asked my psych to put me on Prozac because I didn't want to be depressed anymore. That seemed to be working, I excelled at my job, felt like I was coping alright with the stress of commuting and working my first "real" job. What I didn't realize, is that the Prozac was activating. And since my panic attacks didn't start until months after I started taking the drug, no one made the connection (the connection was made 10 years later when I tried taking Prozac again and felt keyed up and was having daily panic attacks). So I continued to have panic attacks, was given xanax to cope and started taking CBT classes.
I had no idea how to actually implement the CBT classes into my daily life and was eventually switched to Effexor with the hopes that it would help with my worsening depression and help with the anxiety. This was also a bad move as it caused me to gain a tremendous amount of weight (at 5'9" I topped out at 289) and started to develop metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetic blood sugar, normal/high BP) and no amount of exercise, even with the help of a very expensive personal trainer, helped with relieving these symptoms. To top it off, I was having increasing anxiety and panic attacks and ended up being agoraphobic.
My agoraphobia resolved itself through some very helpful CBT classes called Phobease (it's no longer offered, which is a shame) and I was in a place where I felt like my medication was hurting me more than helping, so I asked to get of my meds. I started seeing a new psych who helped me (begrudgingly) to get off the Effexor with the help of Prozac. This is when I realized that Prozac was activating, spending most of my time shivering from fear, terrified of anything that my body would do. It was the worst I'd ever felt. There was no way I was able to cope, so I agreed to take a new medication, Zoloft. It was magic. It worked really well for a couple of years.
Until last year, when I started getting break-through anxiety attacks and became apathetic. I cared very little about anything and that served as a wake up call to me that more medication was not the answer. Upping my dose didn't do anything for me that was recognizable. So I stopped.
I've been medication free since October 2013. I had withdrawal symptoms, but those resolved after a couple months. I felt like a normal human being with feelings and it was great. I was so happy, even with the ups and downs I was now experiencing.
Then three months ago, something changed. My anxiety came back with a vengeance
. Huge panic attack and ended up in the ER. And ever since then, I have been struggling with every little symptom that might have popped up, effectively ruining my life. I've become obsessed with googling all my symptoms, I need constant reassurance from people around me and my doctor.
I'm slowly learning how to deal with these symptoms by revisiting what has worked in the past as well as incorporating new things like growing my support system, and reaching out to others, like on this forum.
My goal for posting here is to offer support as well as receive support from people who are also coping with the same issues I am. I need to hear, "Oh, I get that too, it sucks, but here's what I've done to make it better."
Looking forward to meeting you all.