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Panic disorder and my experience


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I feel comfortable enough here to share my experience with a fairly crippling mental disorder with which I've been struggling for my entire life. I guess this is more of a confessional/rant, but I just want anyone who may be younger than me and has yet to come to grips with their issues to know that they're not alone.

For as long as I can remember I've been suffering from a fairly severe anxiety disorder. It didn't become completely apparent till my late teens, when I finally had to "grow up" and take on the real world without help from my parents. I remember the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, my dad pulled some strings and got me a job as a cashier at a grocery store. This was my first "real" job. Prior to training I was a nervous wreck, but I figured this was normal. Whenever I got nervous, I got nauseous. Whatever. No biggie.

I made it through training, and they put me on register for an hour or so. I felt like I was going to die. Literally. I felt like the world was closing in on me; I could hardly breathe, my limbs were tingling, and I was more or less suffocated by fear completely out of proportion to the situation.

I couldn't continue with the job after that, and I was forced to quit after much hand-wringing and mental anguish. My father held a grudge for months, as at that time NO ONE understood my issues. They all just assumed that I was lazy.

This extended further, as I started seeing a girl in the latter half of my senior year. Every time that I had to call her, see her, or communnicate with her in any way, I felt like my world was crashing in with an avalanche of anxiety. I would throw up 10 times before we went on a date, and I was intensely anxious throughout. This basically ruined any chance I had with her, and the thing that sucked was that I did like her. My anxiety just didn't jive with a relationship.

Moving away to college was my biggest challenge yet. I vomited and suffered from severe panic for weeks after moving in. Finally, the summer after my freshman year I ended up in the hospital due to vomiting from an attack. I've been dealing with it appropriately ever since.

This extends into my life in ways that even I can't fathom. When I panic, it snowballs till I feel like I'm going to die, or even want to die. And I can't help it. I can keep it under control, but its something I have to live with. The physical and mental anguish of a panic attack is something that only sufferers can completely comprehend.

It hurts me deeply, because I feel like I've wasted many valuable experiences because of my disorder. Not even I understand in full WHY something as easy as a cashiering job could hurl me into a pit of despair so deep I wanted to slit my wrists. And that's what hurts. Things that so many people take for granted, and enjoy for that matter, can absolutely destroy me and millions of others mentally.

I just wanted to relate my experience in case there's anyone on the board that may have had similar issues, or is currently grappling with them. Its nothing to be ashamed of, you're not crazy, and seeking appropriate help is the best course of action.

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It shows some gumption that you're able to discuss the issue. Obviously, what ever help you're getting is having an impact. Good for you! Everyone one of us is wired a little different, for lack of a better word, and it's impossible for us to put ourselves in others shoes. That's why quick judgements are a bad thing. As an analogy, I'm color blind. Doesn't mean I can't see color, just that I can't always put the right name on the color sometimes. I try to explain it to people but the only people I've met who seem to understand are also color blind. :)

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Is there any treatment available to you (and others) that reduces the frequency or severity of the attacks?

Either way, thanks for sharing. :cheers:

Yeah, I'm on medication which definitely helps...just wanted to get the word out to others who may be too afraid to seek assisstance.

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Man, I feel for you. Life is pretty damn stressful at times. I don't have to deal with anything along the lines of what you have, but I do know how 'paralyzing' anxiety can be. Under a severe amount of stress, its almost impossible to think or process information well. I've experienced that myself.

I think the 'wired' thing is what people don't likely understand very well. We're all, to a certain extent, at the mercy of our neurons, genetics, and hormones....of course we have a choice in how we respond to things in general, but some of our responses are beyond our control. Its like telling someone who's drowning to 'calm down' ....chances are, they arent' going to find that helpful.

I'm really glad that you've seemingly got a handle on it now, and truly sorry you've had to deal with that your entire life. You're a great guy, and I've always enjoyed your posts here. One thing I've learned, and that I always try to remember (especially at work where I have to manage a good number of employees) - you never know what people are dealing with in their private lives.

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Orangeskin, I am glad you hear you're doing well. While any such condition can be very debilitating, the good news is anxiety disorders are among those for which some very effective treatments are readily available. Hopefully, people finding themselves seriously affected by such issues will seek both medical and psychological evaluation, as satisfactory recovery rates from these conditions are among the highest, typically using some of the less intrusive medications and psychotherapies involved. Keep doing what you're doing that's working for you, brother. :):cheers:

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My aunt's disorders are as severe as yours. She has now stopped going anywhere alone or taking day trips as she used to. She has blackd out while driving and sometimes with the help of good samaritans she was taken to the hospital or back to her house.

I have suffered from these as well but very mild in comparison to my aunt's and yours. Mostly I get them when I am under severe stress or something is going on with a family member. I opted not to take meds since when I first moved up to VA that's when they mostly ocurred. I ended up in the hospital one night and even wore a heart monitor just in case since mine felt like heart attacks at times.

I agree that you shouldn't be scared to seek treatment or confide in others.

It's a disease that has taken my aunt's life and crippled it.

To anyone that has it, you are not alone.

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I have gone through times like what you are talking about.

In fact anytime I go anywhere public I have those feelings come on me in a small way, not as big as what you are talking about. At times they are that big, like when I go to ask someone out on a date.

I remember the first time I kissed a girl, I almost passed out literally. Everything went black in my vision.

The worst it ever got for me was when I was around 17.

I use to play basketball every day, and I dominated most players.

Well one day was beating this guy who was in his 20's in a team game. Every time I got the ball I would score on him. And it pissed him off that some kid was whooping him. He was bigger and stronger than.

Well he sucker punched me, and I didn't fight back. I don't know why I didn't, I just didn't.

Well that changed everything.

I went to being a basketball machine to a worthless chump. That day haunted me for years.

I was beat mentally, my mental thoughts led to feelings of fear/anxiety.

I played every day to try and to get back to what I was before.

Well nothing changed for years, until after I got saved.

At the time that I had gotten saved, my ankle was a mangled mess from a basketball injury.

So to shorten a long story, my ankle finally healed and now I had 2 problems on my shoulders to carry with me to the courts....getting hurt again, and getting into a fight again. Which doubled my anxiety.

But I was determined to get over it.

So I went to the courts.......but this time I had gotten a word from God.

He told me to say this over and over when I go out to play ball...."If you want it....you got to TAKE IT!"

I said that in my mind, over and over and over. In fact I never stopped saying it.

That changed everything! And till this day I still get those feelings, but I simply over ride them with my thought process.

So this doesn't become a book type post, I'm going to make a new post in what I think will help your problem.

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Though I don't suffer them myself, I have witnessed them, up close and personal.

They ain't pretty. That's all I have to say about that.

Glad to hear that you seem to be getting a better handle on your situation. As others here have said, you are NOT alone.

One of the greatest things about this site, is that there is usually always someone around to talk to if you need it. If you ever just want to talk, and you see me online, give me a shout. Out in the open, or in a PM. Your call.

A half hour of talking to me and you'll be saying...

"Glad I'm not as screwed up as that guy!" :laugh:

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"As a man thinks, so is he." - Proverbs

"The battle is in the mind." - some where in the bible

- Train yourself in how to think. It's not enough to just say it's all in your head. You have to do excercises that will help your thought process, and in return will help with your emotions.

- Pills can help If a person is overwieght and they want to get started in an excercise program, there are energy pills that can help them get a good start.

But pills can only go so far. You should only use them when you need them.

- Dailey routines with people If being around people is what causes your anxiety, then that's where you need to be.......around people. The more you do this, the more you work your thought process in a positive way, the more progress you will make over your fears.

The thing that has helped me the most is my job as a server.

For years I struggled with fear everytime I went to the table.

But over time those feelings began to leave.

I still can get a nervous feeling here and there, but I have come a long way from what I use to be.

Here are some sayings you can use.

"There is nothing to fear."

"There is no logical reason why I should be afraid."

Make up your own like that, and just say it over and over and over.

You can get a part time job dealing with the public.

Go to church.

Go to bars.....but don't drink. Drinking will give you a false sense of courage.

You don't have to do it every day, but the more you do, the faster you will become stronger.

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Huly's Sexy Friend, I hope things continue to go better for you and keeping your aunt in your love and prayers as I am sure you do means so much. I am going to send you something on these matters via PM.

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I feel your pain Orangeskin. It sucks.

I suffer from GAD/Social Disorder but I've had panic attacks in the past and recently a couple of months ago which led to me going to the ER thinking I was having a Heart Attack and mild Stroke which I talked about on here.

I had a lot of anxiety problems as a child but they weren't too severe and I could manage them. When I got married in my mid 20's they came back with a vengence because I had to worry abot someone else besides myself. I even had a panic attack on the plane back from my honeymoon.

After taking several different meds during treatment (very common because everyone's brain chem is different) Lexapro and Klonopin work very well for me and I finally feel normal again.

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OrangeSkin, you have shown the courage that I have never had.

I too have Panic Disorder.

I was diagnosed back in 1997 when I kept going to the doctor with chest pains, stomach upset, and feelings like I was losing my mind. I started having attacks at home, at the movies, playing golf, at work, wherever. It wasn't predicatable and I didn't know what it was. I was at the point of trying something really stupid. That is when my wife forced me to see a Psychiatrist. She put me on Prozac and Ativan. It saved my life.

I continue to suffer with the disorder. Some days are better than others, but everyday I have moments of anxiety. I know some of you are thinking that we all have anxiety, but this kind of anxiety is not normal. I am not the same person I was prior to 1997 and never will be. I have gone through periods of Agoraphobia and forced myself to do things that scared the hell out of me.

My family and friends (Unsonny, Chappelle, RonJeremy, etc..) have been great and understanding. I actually was able to make it through a full season of tailgating last year :)

I know this is something I will probably always have to deal with but I will continue to force myself to be social and active and am determined to try to live as normal a life as I can.

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Thanks for sharing, I too have panic disorder.

It started for me in my early twenties, when I first got the symptoms (chest pains, heart palpitations, tingling in limbs, feeling of impending doom) I was completely freaked out! It got so bad I couldn't even function. I didn't want to go anywhere out of fear I would have a panic attack in public. Thank God I have a great doctor who diagnosed the problem right away. I've heard many people spend years until they are properly diagnosed.

Panic Disorder is a terrible affliction but it doesn't actually harm you physically and is very treatable. I'm doing great today. This is a great thread OrangeSkin, many thanks for opening a forum for this problem to be discussed.

I've gone here in the past, lots of support there:


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  • 1 year later...

Well, this thread is good for me right now. 2 weeks ago I lost my job, for the first week all was fine and normal I usually try not to worry too much. On Monday around 1:30 in the afternoon I felt uncontrollably dizzy and had what I thought was shortness of breath. Paramedics came, gave me some oxygen, checked my vitals, told me to take it easy. On Tuesday while driving to have lunch in regards to new employment I again felt extremely dizzy, started sweating and headed back home. My wife took me to the hospital where everything checked out normal(I'm still going to have some bloodwork done next week). Wednesday I slept damn near all day which is extremely unusual for me, Thursday I felt dizzy most of the day and afraid to leave my house. Yesterday, i went to the pet store with my wife to get some supplies(she drove as I'm still feeling dizzy or faint every so often) as soon as we got the parking lot it felt like the world was collapsing on me, I managed to buy the food and get back to the car but could not wait to get home. I've been very tired lately, sleeping more than I ever have. For those that have panic disorders is this what it feels like or sounds like? I've always been a high stress peson but never had anything remotely close to this happen.

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I've had one panic attack in my life. An absolutely horrible, and very scary experience. I thought for sure I was having a heart attack at age 25 or so. I hope I never, ever, ever have that happen again.

I hope whatever you're doing to treat this works for you OS. Also, bear in mind that depression and anxiety disorders often go together for some reason.

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Yes, there is often a comorbidity between anxiety and depression.

I have thought about why and I think it has something to do with childhood trauma/stress that damages the brain and alters its chemistry. If you had to deal with a lot of stress as a kid then your chances of having depression and/or anxiety is much greater.

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I've had one panic attack in my life. An absolutely horrible, and very scary experience. I thought for sure I was having a heart attack at age 25 or so. I hope I never, ever, ever have that happen again.

I hope whatever you're doing to treat this works for you OS. Also, bear in mind that depression and anxiety disorders often go together for some reason.

I don't know if it was a 'panic attack' or not, but the night the Iraq invasion began, I was scheduled to work night shift. For whatever reason, I got so anxious, I literally had to call in. I think its because I wasn't 'allowed' to express my anxiety when I was going into action during Gulf War I in 1991, and was reliving it through the TV set. I know that sounds weird, but my heartrate had to be 150 that night. Funny thing is, my brother, who was a Marine in Beirut when the terrorist bombing occurred (that killed a bunch of his guys) told me he had the same experience.

So I'm a believer - I think there are things in all our lives that can trigger stress in a big way. I could understand that the loss of a job might be one of those triggers.

Good luck man - key to life is perspective. You could find out tomorrow you have a month to live. Living in fear is pointless. Of course thats easy to say, much harder to embrace in your own life.

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I am gad this thread was started.

I also suffer from depression/anxiety. I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. I have tried everything from prozac to lexapro to paxil, basically every SSRI. I have yet to find relief. The only thing that has given me relief is xanax and klonopin, but they can be addictive so I don't want to rely on that.

It has limited me in life in ways most can't imagine. When I am feeling anxious, I am a nervous reck and don't have the abiltiy to think clearly. I am very self concious and it can destroy self esteem.

I have had one panic attack before and in a way I have never been the same since. It was very scary.

I actually am seeing a psychiatrist this week. If anyone is on a medication that seems to help their anxiety please, let me know so that I can bring it up with my doc.

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Wow, I think it's so great that so many have shared their experiences so honestly. Sometimes it's just a relief knowing that you don't suffer alone.

I suffer from anxiety attacks, more so than panic attacks, although I've had those too, and they are completely debilitating.

The weird thing is that it can be one serious stressor that sets it going (like Tarhog experienced), but more often than not it's just random. I sometimes can't even imagine going to the grocery store without getting completely overwhelmed. It's not a matter of "bad" things being a bigger cause than "good" things. Something that is completely positive, (like 9/9!) can also start me to thinking about the anxiety, which starts me worrying, which starts the anxiety... and so on. I'm so nervous about being around people sometimes that it's easier to just avoid certain situations. I'm already getting so nervous about the tailgate that I haven't actually posted that I'm bringing something, just in case I don't go. :(

I hear you on the drugs, WVU. Xanax just isn't a good option for me - I'd be chewing them all day long. I used to drink a lot to help me feel more "sociable"; but since I was anxious all the time, well, I ended up **** faced all the time.:silly:

One drug that I have found that helped is a beta blocker. It isn't a mood stabilizer or enhancer, but helps the physical symptoms, like racing heart, etc. Then the racing thoughts will usually calm down too. I guess it's actually used for heart patients to slow down the heart rhythm. I usually take one every day. Maybe ask about it at your appt. Whatever you do, don't give up. Keep searching for the right dr./right drug to help you. You are so right - being so self concious and anxious is just overwhelming. Don't give up. PM me if you want.

Bugs, I'm so glad you posted. Like someone said earlier in the thread, we never know what goes on in other people's lives. I really enjoyed meeting and hanging out with you at the tailgates and up in "our" section last year and the year before. You're a cool dude to hang out with, and I hope we can do it some more this year. Hopefully it helps to know you're not alone. Now I just need to get my agoraphobic butt to join 90,000 people in a week, and have a good time doing it. I'm gonna work on it, and just pray it's a smooth week and I don't freak out by Sunday. :)

How great you have the support of family and friends, too. Makes all the difference in the world, instead of having people give up on you when you refuse the 10th invitation to actually leave the house.

Ok, whew, that was a relief to get out. What an awesome community.

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