My first attack was a year and a half ago en route to the hospital for shortness of breath. My heart started pounding as if it were going to explode out of my chest, my breathing became rapid, my hands got sweaty and my mind raced. I thought I was dying. I had that a couple of more times before I got treatment for anxiety (I had been going to a Cardiologist and a Gastroenterologist prior thinking they were the causes).
Things got better, but earlier this year my anxiety started taking a toll on me and I started to get anxiety about going anywhere besides home and work. To even go to the supermarket I had to pop a Xanax. It was crazy. I was a firefighter for 5 years, propelling out of windows, going into exhausting and heated environments, seeing trauma that would make someone else physically sick, and so on to... well, being to anxious to even go into a supermarket! I remember when I started getting chest pains again before I left for medical leave. It would come and go and I blamed it on reflux. My chest would tighten and I wouldn't be able to catch a breath easily.
My anxiety attacks now start out with a weird feeling of energy change. I can't really explain it, but I'll just feel like my energy is different and I feel out of it a bit, then the physical manifestations appear. My chest tightens, breathing will be a bit more difficult, I'll get dizzy and I'll clam up for the most part. I've gotten much better at maintaining a decent outward appearance during such attacks (Continuing in a social interaction, for example). I'll be able to talk to someone, but inside my head is utter chaos while outside I look fine. It actually sucks, but it's better than running out of a room I guess.
Durations vary depending on what I am doing. If I am stuck somewhere where I feel anxious, then it'll stay that way until I am out. I don't really get anxiety attacks at home... I guess that's my "safe area" where I am somewhat impervious to such attacks. I've had attacks last like hours because I was stuck in a certain place. Such as my daughter's last birthday party since her mother was there (She has caused me many issues and it manipulative. She also has *NO* custody and barely sees our daughter once a month, if that. She also contributes nothing, yet when our daughter was initially born and I was working part-time and going to college she demanded child support and used it to buy cigarettes and pay her cell phone bill while I and my parents paid for diapers, formula and other needs on top of it). I took a Xanax, but I felt like something was caught in my throat, which is a sympton I get at times as well (I also get a feeling where I cannot swallow correctly). I tried drinking a soda, eating a slice of pizza and even taking another Xanax, but nothing helped. I just felt more tired, but I still had all of the physical symptoms. It ruined what should've been a beautiful memory.
That was last February. Now it's June and things *HAVE* gotten better. I still get attacks, but not as often, and I can often deal with them much better for the most part. I mean, we all have bad days, but there are less bad days than before. I actually have gone out to eat again, I went back to my friends house and saw people I hadn't seen in awhile, I feel more comfortable interacting with people at work, and so on. It's still a work in progress, but at least progress is being made. I hope to oine day feel "normal" again.