Who Hit the Panic Button?

10306826-panic-button-in-red-on-yellow-and-black-panelWhen my Dad got sick seven years ago, I started having panic attacks. The first one happened when I was driving home from work late one night and I had to stop in the parking lot of a grocery store, call my husband, who then in turn called my father and they both showed up to get me.

It felt like a weird, out-of-body experience and I was certain I was having a heart attack. It happened several more times before it caused me to seek help because I didn’t know what it was.

One night my husband and I were sleep and I arose from my sleep in the most horrific fit of panic I’d ever experienced. We went to the ER, they did the workup and end result, “You need to see your doctor and possibly a therapist. You’re having panic attacks.”

Being the doctor that I obviously am, having obtained a street degree in self-diagnosis, I decided that hey, I can handle this. I can fix it on my own. It never happened. Eventually, I would see a therapist and be prescribed anti-depressants and anxiety meds that I honestly never take. Because I am fine, right? I am clearly just stressed.

And for the most part I was able to “fix” myself by meditating and yoga and learning deep-breath exercises. I even had a few sessions of hypnotherapy which were surprisingly helpful to a certain degree.

It became easier for me to spot them and stop them before they became full-blown nightmares.

And then my dad died. They returned and I broke down and started taking my anti-depressants and anxiety medications just to get through the day because I was not processing the loss.

Then six months after my dad died, Marc got sick. After I had decided to stop taking the meds again. And I did stop.

The last three days, I have been on full panic nightmare mode. One after the other. They usually happen when I am trying to sleep and not until I see the sun rise am I able to sleep and I am confused.

Because I am supposed to be in a slightly better place. I am supposed to have additional help. I am supposed to be taking a break right now and clearing my mind, preparing to go back to work in the coming weeks. I am supposed to be finding my zen.

And it’s left me wondering, who the heck hit the panic button? And how am I going to get it to stop?

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3 Comments on "Who Hit the Panic Button?"

Profile photo of Chris
Aug 1, 2013

I have general anxiety disorder and depression. When we moved here I was the same way. We moved because it made more sense than staying where we were and I would be able to have more support, but that didn’t save me from the panic. I don’t know where it comes from because it seems like hey, we’ve made the changes we need to make so things should be better right?

I have to take medication to keep my anxiety in check or go off the deep end, but I found that finding a routine helped me with sleep. Also, melatonin helped to keep me asleep, although I did have weird dreams, at least I was sleeping. Lack of sleep makes it worse for me so I do things to tire myself out. Things like walking for 30 mins helped, trying to sit and read a book did not because it allowed for my brain to ramble on and on.

Remember to breath, and maybe talk to a doc about a low dose med if you can. Something to take the edge off let you be you.

Profile photo of Pegi
Aug 1, 2013

Mine came on as “globus hysterica”, one day for no apparent reason I could not swallow solid food. After a barrage of physical, and very unpleasant tests, I was diagnosed at the Cleveland Clinic with General Anxiety Order. I, too, fought the meds. Took them for a bit, talked with Psychatrist who said that anxiety is a physiological disorder. You do not get enough serotonin to the brain. I, too, thought I could overcome it on my own. I was young,intelligent and independent, I certainly did not see a life time of meds. So I stopped taking the very low dose I had. While watching “My Fair Lady” on TV, I had the grandaddy of panic attacks. I was convinced I was having a stroke. Eventually, I adjusted. I’m still on a low dose; very little increase in very many years; just enough to ward off the boogie man. To this day I am reluctant to share this. @Chris had some good suggestions. Taking meds is not a sign or weakness, if you need them, you need them. You life is not exactly a walk in the park at the moment! You’re on overload. Be gentle with yourself.

Profile photo of Denise
Aug 2, 2013

Oh, my gosh, Casandra, you make me laugh: “Being the doctor that I obviously am, having obtained a street degree in self-diagnosis, I decided that hey, I can handle this.”

Any kind of change–including changes that are good–cause stress. A move is incredibly stressful. You are in a better place, you made a great decision and it’s understanding that you would be stressed, worried and feeling anxious.

It sounds like you’ve got some solutions (including medications) that will help you. It’s good to use the solutions we have.

Please keep us posted.