I had be suffering from Panic attacks and Anxiety for over 5 years. It got real bad after I was fired. Since I was no longer forced to leave the house, I developed agoraphobia and became a recluse. I was also very pale and my friends would joke about it when they came to visit.
(I use to have friends, but I lost a lost because I rarely ever got out the house). And you know how that goes. You slowly start to lose contact with most of them. etc etc.
What triggered my panic attacks?
The only way to recover is to find out what was the main cause / trigger of my panic attacks. Just to pin point what when on and that is nothing health related.
Basically, I drove a car that had an exhaust leak and a blown head gasket. I was into the "tuning car scene" back in the days.
Long story short, while driving, I started to get light headed, headaches and felt a shortness of breath. I got out the car, tried to have dinner with some friends, but was having trouble breathing. I decided to hop back in the car and go home.
As I was driving, and I struggling to breathe. (carbon monoxide? radiator fluid fumes) who knows. All of a sudden, I started to get a tingly sensation on my left arm. I thought I was having a heart attack. I kept on driving none the less and wham! My entire body was numb and tingly, My ears were ringing and I couldn't breath ate all. My lungs refused to take in any air. My heart was pounding, I was a little confused and lost and very, very scared.
I pulled over, got out the car and signaled for help. Of course, no one cared and went on their way. I manage to get on the phone and called for help. "I can't breathe, do you know whats wrong" etc etc. I could barely talk.
As I was waiting for the ambulance, I decided to pace back and forth away from the car in the middle of the street. Things calmed down, I was breathing normally again and the ambulance came. The did their testing and told me "it was probably a panic attack".
Things went down him from there. This was on a Wednesday night. And every Wendesday from that day forward, I would have a little anxiety attack. Not sure why but it just happened. Didn't get help for it. Eventually I quit my job which was a huge mistake. As my boss was very, very understanding and was able to work with me.
I did land a new job, but was fired a month later after missing so many days. I would get an anxiety attack in the copy room for some odd reason. Maybe because the space was tight. I don't know. Driving to work was not an issue. But driving home would have be feeling very anxious and I would have to pull over and rest often.
So, being unemployed and staying home all day obviously didn't help the cause. Things actually got worst and I was now afraid to leave the house. I couldn't stand any strong chemical smells either. Everything from loud noises (brother watching movie, turning on the BBQ, etc etc) would trigger my panic attacks. It was bad.
I basically lost 2-3 years of my life doing nothing. Just laying in bed thinking I had some type of health issues. I thought I was diabetic at one point. Even to thinking I had lung cancer because of all the fumes I took in when I drove the car. And that's why "I can't breathe".
Steps to recovery?
One night after feeling sorry for myself, I just laid in bed and prayed. Begging to get my life back, be financially stable, giving me the strength to overcome this, etc etc.
And then when everything went for the better. I started just doing research online and came upon a site that had an audio tutorial about panic attacks, CBT, etc etc. I read and listened to it and took it all in.
At the same time, my little online shop started to get me some sales. So I started to add more stuff. Since I was into photoshop and illustrator. I designed a few templates for invites, cell phone cases, etc etc. And started to earn a little income. Which was good as my savings was about to be depleted. I only had 300 bucks left!
I also started to just drive again. Not far, but just around the block and slowly increase the distance every couple days or so. Eventually, I manage to drive far enough to go to a local community center to get help. There, I was introduce to a Hospital in Newport Beach, CA that offered free CBT / therapy. I don't think they were real therapists though, just students working on their degree or license or whatever.
This was a 45 / 1hr drive! Didn't think I would be able to drive that far but I did. The scenery was beautiful. I saw the ocean for the first time in 3-4 years! lol
Honestly, I didn't get any thing from my 4 or so sessions before I ended it. We just didn't get along. She wasn't sympathetic at all. Thought I was faking it, thought I was lazy and trying to get attention from my mom. etc etc. Even yelled at me and said, "You are not sick, stop pretending to be". Even call my parents an "enabler". Of course, I ended it and focused all of my attention to the online site for CBT.
The only thing that help me with my agoraphobia was just forcing myself to drive that far. That alone was therapeutic and was what probably help me overcome my anxiety.
Now, it wasn't 100% cured, as visiting regular or familiar places wouldn't be an issue, but visiting new places with trigger my anxiety here and there. The funniest part was shopping at Ralph. I went to pick up some things and it was busier than normal. I was waiting in line, and was feeling light headed, dizzy and thought I was going to faint. So just just left. Leaving the cart and all in the middle of the line.
While all this was going on, I was trying to get disability and applied 3 times. And was denied 3 times. Mainly because I failed to appear in court for a hearing 6 month prior. I requested a phone hearing but they refused. I found a guy who said he could represent me and help me out and he also had an in-house psychiatrist who was able to fill out all the info the State requested. I was still denied.
Also, the psychiatrist was a fraud. All he wanted to do was give me all types of experimental drugs. I was actually hooked on Xanax at one point. It was so bad, that when I started to run out of it, I would go crazy. This method of "healing" wasn't more me and I wanted to go the natural route.
I did some research and found that Reishi Mushroom was helpful for anxiety and started using that supplement daily.
Couple months later, I decided to register for a drawing class just to get out the house. It was a battle but eventually things settled and I was no longer as fearful of crowds, driving, etc etc and manage to ace that class.
From that point on, I decided to work on my AA degree in graphic design. And I have one semester left. I think I finally found something I don't mind doing.
I'm sure I've leaving out a ton of stuff. But after 5 years of battling panic attacks and anxiety, I can say that I am about 80% recovered. Haven't had any panic attacks in almost 2 years.
My life now compared to my life 3+ years ago is just a 180 degree turn. I didn't think I would be able to recover from this. I thought I was going to suffer forever. Reading all these stories online about this not being curable, etc etc.
Just wanted to say that I am living proof that you can overcome Anxiety. Once you overcome that, that Panic Attacks will slowly go away. It took me 5 years. I was able to do it without meds and without any "therapy". All of the therapy was stuff was all the info I picked up online.
Learning about panic attacks, anxiety and how everything is just a "trick" and that we need to "re-train" our brain.
Getting groceries and running back to the car when you feel light headed is BAD. This is what causes Agoraphobia. Running instead of facing your fears.