Hey all. I've been browsing these forums for the past few days and you all seem really helpful and supportive - it's great.
My name is Kirsten, I'm 25 and my anxiety is getting worse and worse. At this point, I pretty much live every day terrified that I'm going to die. (Well, I'm aware that I will die someday, but each day I'm worried it will be today.) Every headache is a brain tumor, every shallow breath is lung cancer, every backache is my kidneys failing. I've had these sorts of thoughts since I was around 8 years old and realized my own mortality - but it's been the past year and a half that my anxiety and panic attacks have really taken control of my life.
I have a lot of anticipatory anxiety. I am anxious about flying because I had an awful attack on a plane a couple years ago, and now I'm constantly worried I'll have another one while on the plane and feel "stuck" and alone again. And while I know I made it and it didn't hurt me, I can't stop the anxiety and the thoughts from creeping up on me when I plan to travel. I can't go to the gym anymore because I had a few attacks there and I get so worked up just thinking about going back in, that I know I'll have an attack as soon as I do. I'm afraid to walk my dogs alone because any time I feel out of breath, I, of course, feel like I can't breathe and have an attack.
My job for the past two years allowed me to work from home, which allowed me to stay in the comfort of my house and never really force myself out for my job or anything. I was laid off about a month ago, and I find it hard to leave now. I am worried about having an attack at the grocery store or while Christmas shopping. Even my house is not safe from anxiety anymore. I feel like I am closing myself off to so many things that could be fun or would make me happy as a result of my anxiety. I worry if it continues the way it has, that I'll end up never leaving my house.
I have been seeing a psychiatrist for the past few months and have tried meditation and relaxation. I have some xanax to take when I'm in a really uncomfortable situation, but I really wanted to try to get past this on my own. This week when I went in she suggested starting Lexapro. She thinks this will calm my obsessive thoughts and allow me some time to really learn the tools I need to cope without being distracted by feeling terrified all the time.
I'm having a hard time starting the Lexapro for several reasons. First, I've never wanted to feel dependent on a drug to feel "normal". The Xanax is different because I take it rarely - only when I need it. The thought of a commitment to take an anti-depressant every day for at least 6 months or so, is a lot for me. I've avoided all drugs and even alcohol my whole life, so I don't like feeling like I *need* this drug.
I also worry about side effects. Of course there are tons of people who come online to complain about the bad things, and very few people who take the time to report the good stuff. But since I have so much anxiety due to worrying about being sick or dying, I'm worried about feeling crappy on the drug and then getting even more anxiety about the way I am feeling. I also worry about the withdrawal effects. And what if I wean myself off of these drugs, but the same obsessive thoughts come back? I don't want to be taking these forever.
On top of those things, I feel like taking this is somehow giving up and giving in to my anxiety. I really wanted to "beat it" on my own. I wanted the relaxation and meditation to work. I am such a rational and logical person, and the fact that I can tell myself I know I'm fine and not sick, but still feel this way, is so frustrating to me. I just don't know what to do. Should I start the Lexapro tonight? She wants me to start taking a half a pill to start each night.
Thank you all in advance for any suggestions or words of advice you can offer.