Wednesday, January 20, 2010
From time to time, I like to discuss some rather personal issues hoping to bring light to the plight of others. This is one of those posts.
I suffer from panic disorder. While I will probably never know the root cause of why, all I know is that it can be debilitating when left unchecked. Earlier this week, I was MIA from the world because I ran out of the meds I take for it. Not a smart move on my part, and I ended up catching hell from my doctor. Anyway, I was in panic mode for three days. Unable to think rationally, I dared not venture out and thanked God I didn't have to work.
My first panic attack was about 12 years ago. I can very vividly remember every detail.
I was on my way to the local college to take a test as I was enrolled in a full semester's worth of classes and did some classes online. About halfway there, I remember suddenly feeling like I was going to have a very bad, messy accident if I didn't find a restroom. Thinking I had the flu, I called the hubby at work and asked if he could come and get me. I felt exhausted and immediately went home to sleep off what I thought I had come down with. That was just the beginning.
Over the next month, I would start to drive somewhere (orthodontist for my older son, grocery store, wherever) and start to get the tingle of hyperventilation in my arms and legs. At that point, my mind would start racing and obsessing about where I might be able to pull off and squat if I needed to. This led to an even more intense feeling of impending doom (or doo) that only subsided when I decided to turn around and go home. I would go home and sleep for a few hours. It was when I couldn't even go as far as my car in the driveway without feeling the onset that I knew it was time to seek professional advice.
My mom ended up taking me to the doctor the day I had the appointment. At first, I tried to tell her I was too sick to go, but she forced me to go (Thanks, Mom!). When I described my symptoms to my doctor, he immediately said "Panic attacks." He pulled out his trusty little scrip pad and wrote me one for Paxil. It gave me my life back.
Since that time, I've had to experiment with a few meds to find one that wasn't going to leave me in a fog and able to function. Recently, I've had to keep Xanax on hand just in case. Occasionally, I'll still have a mild one despite the meds. Xanax has eased that considerably. I have absolutely no beef with big pharma companies.
Last week, through no fault of my own, I let my scrips lapse. I was completely without my meds, and, after four days, I was sent into a complete panic tailspin. Fear and obsession with minor things overtook my life once again. It's not a pretty sight.
I took a Xanax and forced myself to go back to the doctor yesterday to get more meds. He read me the riot act for letting my meds lapse. And he had every right to do so. I forgot just how hideous life can be when in panic mode.
I'm thankful to say that today is much better. And tomorrow will be even better. Before long, I'll be back to normal.
Panic attacks can manifest themselves in many ways for different people. Some feel like they're having a heart attack while others feel violently ill for no apparent reason. They then tend to go into an irrational state of mind, leaving others around wondering WTF? It's not unusual for those in panic states to wind up going to the ER only to have all tests come back normal.
The families of those who suffer from panic disorder need to be ultra supportive. At first, the hubby kept telling me "It's all in your mind. You just need to calm down." WRONG APPROACH!!! It's not something that one has control over; it controls you. At that point, I'd feel guilty for not having control of the situation, but I learned that it's much better to admit you have no control and seek help than to let panic disorder dictate your life.
I hope that someone out there can find some support in this post from someone who has lived and continues to live with this. To them, I urge that they find the right solution for them whether it be meds, therapy, or a combination of both. Have faith and hope. THAT helps immensely.
And you definitely are not alone.