I am brand new to this forum, and after reading some of the existing topics and posts, I feel less alone in what has recently happened to me. It has definitely made me want to share my story in hopes that some of you can help me with what has worked for you, and if I can maybe help someone else in some way.
I would first off like to say that I have NEVER used drugs (street drugs), ever. So my story isn't based on years of using drugs and then wondering "what happened?" I think it's from a combination of my lifestyle, and my poor judgment. I live in Los Angeles, the mecca of unnecessary stress. I just turned 30 years old a few months ago, and that's when this story really begins. It may just be pure coincidence, but I had my first life changing, anxiety/ panic attack experience exactly 2 months ago. The only thing I did different that day was have about 5 Sunkist sodas throughout the day. Later that evening, in front of the TV while relaxing, that’s when I felt as if I couldn't breathe. It felt as if something was sitting on my chest, I couldn’t breathe, and I was shaking horribly. I was suddenly out of control of my body. I could NOT stop shaking. I was snapping my fingers uncontrollably, I couldn't sit still, and I was losing the ability to breath. I really thought I was having a heart attack. I was rushed to the ER by my wife after trying to calm down for about 45 minutes. When I got to the ER, they looked at me like some guy on drugs because I guess that's what someone looks like when they OD or something. They tested me for EVERYTHING and everything came back completely clean, and actually my levels were healthy. No high cholesterol, no high blood pressure, no diabetes, they ran 2 EKG's and those checked out fine..... I was basically "fine". They said I had a panic attack.
The next day my Dr. put me on Ativan. This has been the only thing that's helped me in time of panic to this day. I have now been taking it for 2 months. She also put me on Celexa. Taking Celexa made me feel 100% WORSE. I had similar symptoms to those listed by others on this site that have taken Lexapro or other medications like this. I felt like I was WIRED and couldn't sleep on Celexa, it felt like I drank 8 Red Bull drinks. Celexa made me feel more anxious, wired! I stopped taking Celexa and since I stopped I've felt better. People have been telling me to take Lexapro, but I hear now it has the same or similar side effects as Celexa! I also am being told the only thing that won't have these side effects, or at least as bad, and that actually works, is Effexor. Is this true? If anyone can shed some light on Effexor or Lexapro, I am all ears. I'm wondering if either of these will allow me to stop taking the Ativan. Additionally, my Dr prescribed Ambien CR to help me sleep because there are times I just CANNOT sleep because of the anxiety. So I am taking that nightly. I have NEVER slept so good with the Ambien. I have had problems sleeping since I was a little kid. I have always been an anxious person, and the Ambien CR has been a lifesaver at night.
I am currently taking 1 MG a day of Ativan (two 0.5mg under the tongue), and it is the only thing that helps get through the severe anxiety at the end of my day. I only need the Ativan at the end of the day. During the day for the most part, I'm pretty good, and I'm able to live a daily life for the most part. It's weird, I only get anxious and the panic starts in the evening, at the end of the day not doing anything at all! I actually get the severe anxiety more at home when it's quiet or in front of the TV, relaxing on the couch.
It has been the hardest thing I've had to go through in my life to date, primarily because it affects EVERYTHING. It's like some people say "if you don't have your health, you have nothing". It's true. If you feel like crap, everything else that's positive and happy is VERY hard to enjoy. At least it is for me at this point. I have always been the "multi-tasker", cramming 50,000 things into one day, anxious, rushing on the freeway, kind of person until this happened. Now that I've been diagnosed with this I honestly don't know how I made it this far without this happening to me sooner.
I am not overweight, but I definitely had gained more weight in the last year than I've ever had, and I attribute it to poor diet (fast food) and more importantly, all of the soda I would drink. The combination of the caffeine, sugar, high anxiety, stress, and feeling of self invincibility (taking everything on at once) for all of these years, because I'm "young" is what I feel brought all of this on. If I could have known that I would get this condition from all of these I surely would have made more changes to prevent this instead of now coping, and trying to repair the damage I've done to myself.
It is definitely easier to deal with this now than it was the first 3 weeks, but I really attribute any kind of "normalcy" to absolutely NO CAFFIENE of ANY kind, and the Ativan. I have cut way back on sugar, and basically not putting anything into my body that can "boost" me. I can't imagine drinking anything caffeinated at this point, especially after the ER visit. Caffeine is absolutely horrible, but I guess that is a no-brainer.
The breakdown is …
I’m on 1mg or Ativan every night, and I know I need to decrease and get off of this because of the dependency problems. However, this is the only thing that seems to work right now. I am in therapy and trying to learn how to further adjust myself to reduce stress. I am taking Ambien CR to sleep at night. I need to know if Effexor or Lexapro will benefit me. I am closely watching what I eat (no fast food), drinking water exclusively, and have been since the night this started. I know I need to exercise, and have been told this will help, but I’m a little overwhelmed to start under all these conditions. Will the exercise really help?
Sorry for such a long story, but I really wanted to share my story and ask questions from others that have more advice and coping techniques. I really look forward to hearing any of your feedback, responses, and opinions.