this is my first post here and I gotta say as sad as it is to hear that there are so many people who are suffering in this way, its very comforting to finally see that I'm not as alone with this as I feel like I am. My first attack came almost 1 year ago today and god has it been a long year since then. I am seeing things much more clearly now and I understand why I'm in this state that is so different from what I was used to, I guess the problem is that I got too comfortable being the way I was (which proved to be quite dangerous, destructive, and lacking a healthy perspective). I'm having to re-teach myself some very basic lessons that for some reason I just missed out up to this point.
I guess the good thing that I have going for me is that I'm only 22 and soon I'm going to be graduating from college, so I've got a wide open world that I can take advantage of if I'll but pay attention. So in a way I guess I'm lucky, but it certainly has been anything but smiles and happiness.
My first attack happened one night as I laid in bed trying to fall asleep. My whole life up to that point I can honestly say I had never felt an ounce of any real pain, or fear. The irony is that I came from a life where there were a lot of bad things going on, but for some reason none of it caused me any suffering as it happened. I realize now that during those traumas (sexual abuse, mother's battle with cancer, and parents divorce being the 3 that come to mind) I was numb to the hurting that should have naturally occurred. From the time I was about 10 years old till about the time I turned 21 I know for a fact that I cried only 1 time, and never experienced any real worry or fear. That all changed the night of that first attack.
I was lying in bed and for some reason my mind was just racing with some very irrational thoughts. All of a sudden the thoughts started to worry me. The thing to remember is up until that point none of the thoughts that went through my head ever caused me any worry. I didn't know what fear felt like because I truly believed I had some special ability to not ever feel fear or pain- I thought I was invincible. That night my thoughts were racing and eventually it spiraled into the thought "I am dying." I don't remember now the exact order and sequence of the thoughts leading up to this, but I remember that it was this specific thought that triggered the physical sensations and altered state of mind that usually accompany panic attacks. I remember that for some reason I thought I was having a heart attack. I think what happened was that for the first time in my life I actually felt my heart beat in my chest, but it was just one, specific beat that I felt. It scared the living crap out of me and I laid there with my hand over my heart waiting to feel the next powerful thud happen again. It wouldn't happen though, so basically I was stuck in the heightened anticipation that you get when you're widing up a jack-in-the-box; you keep waiting for it to pop out and scare you but you don't know when its going to come so you get stuck in this anxious nervousness that you can't shake.
From there the physical sensations worsened and eventually I thought I had no choice but to go to the infirmary around 4 in the morning, because I just thought I shouldn't be alone right now. I started having hot and cold flashes, uncontrollable shivering and an inability to sit still. I went into the bathroom and made myself throw-up, I tried moving to the couch in the living room and tried to fall asleep with the sound of the TV on to distract me. Nothing worked, so finally I got in the car, drove to the infirmary and asked for help saying I didn't know what was wrong with me.
The nurse had me do some breathing exercises which helped reduce the physical sensations I was experiencing, but my mind remained in a state of panic and worry till eventually the exhaustion took over and I was able to sleep sometime around lunchtime the next day. What I failed to connect was that this episode was happening because of the abuse I had been putting on my body for my first 3 years of college. My invincibility complex blinded me to the thought that I was headed straight toward a brick wall and it was only a matter of time until I reached burnout and had to deal with the wreckage. I had been suppressing any and all pain or fear that knocked on the door, and finally I suffered from what one therapist refered to it as "the soda bottle effect." The pressure built and built and built until finally something happened that loosened the lid enough to make it come flying off and all the soda gushes out after it.
The trigger in this case was that for the 3 weeks leading up to the first attack I had not attended one class on account of drinking to the point of puking and pissing all over myself while I was passed out, every single day. This, in fact, was common place for me, but I also got introduced to cocaine for the first time at the beginning of that binge, and that I feel is what finally pushed me over the edge.
Within about 2 weeks I was out of school, in therapy, AA and having these panic attacks on a daily basis. So that's my story so far.
I'm in a much better place now, and I realize that what I suffer from is a real fear of growing up and letting the change that comes with that happen without it completely paralyzing me. In a way, this past year has been the bes thing that has ever happened to me because I realize that I never developed a sense of self and had no real identity that I was aware of and now I can't escape from trying to figure that out. The hard part has been having to see for the first time exactly how far from invincible I am. What I've discovered through this is that although I may not currently possess all the strength and support that i wish I had, there are other people in this world who can help hold you up when you are too weak to hold yourself up. Of course I've faced the sad reality that some people are able to help more than others, and I've had to witness people- who I built up to mean so much- drift out of my life. I've got a bad tendency to hold on to things that maybe I should let go of, but I like to think I'm getting better at it.
Anyways, by having read some of the things that you guys have posted on here I see now that I'm not as hopeless as I think I am, and that help is there but I have to be the one who seeks it out. It isn't going to just come to me by some divine grace or mere happenstance. Well, I'll wrap up this little short story, but I just wanted to say that it is a huge relief to finally feel some connectedness to others in this battle that has made me feel like I'm carrying some big secret that I just can't seem to tell someone about no matter how badly I want to.
Rock and Roll.
** I added a title to your thread hun so more will answer it okay as they will know what it is about....YOU can change it by going to your post and hit edit wipe out what I have and enter what you want ....k ..**
Post Edited By Moderator (Howlyncat) : 3/28/2008 6:34:20 AM (GMT-6)