I recently joined this community and wanted to just get some things down. I’m in my late 50’s and have dealt with, suffered with, lived with and hated my anxiety for approximately 40 plus years. I was a young teenager when I had my first panic attack (this was in the 70’s) and at that time no one really knew of or at least ever talked about anxiety or panic attacks. I can remember sitting in my parent’s living room listening to music and reading a book when all of a sudden I started feeling very weird – it was as if I was outside of my body, but still sitting there at the same time (didn’t know it at the time but this was my first experience with depersonalization). It completely freaked me out and thought either I was dying or losing my mind. I kept quiet about it for awhile, but when these attacks started coming more frequently, I finally called my mom at work and had her come home for lunch so I could talk to her. I spilled it all and I can remember sitting there on the couch crying and telling her about this. She was calm and said she would call my doctor and see if there was something physical going on. As it turned out, she found nothing and said it was probably just hormones and sent me on my way. I ended up dropping out of school and stayed home the rest of that school year (I did end up going back and graduating with my class). I was never sent to a psychiatrist or even to a counselor – this was just not ever heard of in my family or during that time period. Fast forward into my twenties where I learned to live with these weird sensations and live my life as best I could. I never spoke of any of my fears or bodily sensations I experienced. I kept it all to myself as I felt as if I said anything that I would surely be labeled as a crazy person. I managed to keep jobs, travel, have friends, go out and do things without too much angst. Eventually I got married and had two kids and it was about the time I hit 40 when all of this became too much and I had to come clean to my husband (yes, I was married for many years before he ever suspected any of this was going on – we learn to hide things so well, don’t we?)
I was told my many doctors that there was nothing physically wrong with me and that I should probably think about taking an antidepressant, which I did on and off for years. The last time I was went on it I was also put on klonopin to “help” me adjust to the AD. I LOVED my klonopin!! and it ended up becoming my worst enemy!! This was the only drug I had taken that actually helped me feel “normal”. However, I ended up becoming dependent on it and eventually had to ween myself off of it (THAT was a horror show). I have been drug free for over two years and hope I can continue to do so. I know there are many that may read this blog that will disagree with me, but for me drugs are not the answer. I have had anxiety every day since I stopped taking these drugs, but feel my body is better off for it.
This brings me to the present. I have been seeing a therapist for the last almost year and almost feel like I am more anxious now than I was when I started (hard to believe because that was the reason I started to see a therapist again). But we have worked through a lot of different things and my hope is that the reason my anxiety is so high at present is because so much crap is being brought up. My current “symptom” is heart palpitations and I have been getting A LOT of them. There have been a couple of times in the past couple of weeks that it starts with heart palpitations and then it leads into my heart pounding out of my chest. Now my rational mind tells me that the heart palpitations freak me out so much that it leads me into a state where my heart starts pounding out of control. However, my anxious mind tells me that there is something way more sinister going on here and I am on my way to the grave. So I went to see a cardiologist yesterday and got myself hooked up to a heart monitor for the next 14 days. I am truly hoping that the results of this will tell me that it is “just” anxiety and that I need to just try and relax. That there is NOTHING wrong with my heart and that I can continue about my day. I will try to blog on a consistent basis, in part to help me to look back and see if there is progress.