Panic and Anxiety

My anxiety and panic disorder | Emotionally Naked Blog

 

 

I don’t really want to talk about this subject. But I’m going to. It’s a long time coming and it’s hard to write about but here it is. (I apologize for its length)

Since 2001 I’ve been suffering from anxiety. It all started After my high school sweetheart Becky and I broke up. But it didn’t start until about 8 months later. I was still broken up over her, I didn’t feel like my life was going anywhere. I was 22 years old, hadn’t gone to college, had been working as a truck driver since I was nineteen and I knew it was a dead end job, my boss told me so. Also my dreams of being a filmmaker seemed like they were vanishing.

Thinking back, I was still so young and could have done anything. But I was also naive and thought things were much worse for me then they were. Things always seem so much worse when you’re a teenager and in your early twenties then they really are. Although I’m only 30 right now, what I would give to go back to being 22 again and do things differently.

My uncle John, who lived in Florida had daughter who still lived here in the Detroit area. She was a cousin my family had never met before. Apparently she was a bit of a bastard child of my uncles and had recently reunited with him. I was excited to meet her, she was around my age and I never had any cousins around my age. I grew up the youngest for four kids by 11 years. All my cousins were around my brother and sisters age. So I got together with her one night and discovered she was a pothead. This wasn’t anything new to me, I had long time friends who were potheads and into the drug scene. So I called a couple of them up and we all got together to go to a bar.

Before we went to the bar, she wanted to smoke down. I hadn’t smoked pot since I was in a hash bar in Amsterdam with my buddy Dan when we went to Europe when we were 19. Previous to that I had only smoked it here and there. Every time I did it was always a decent time. Except for the one time it was laced with cocaine. That just made me sick. But generally I was one of those silly stoners that would become a comedian when I was high.

This time was different though. I flipped out. I started getting anxiety and was freaking out. My friends went into the bar and I stayed in the car to try and sleep it off. I couldn’t sleep, my head was spinning. There wasn’t anything I could do to not be stoned and that freaked me out. I remember being on my hands and knees in the parking lot hunched over a parking block praying to God and Jesus to save me. I remember thinking that if hell was real this was what it felt like. I was having my first panic attack.

At some point I began sweating really bad and took my shirt off. Then I did something I something I never though I would do, I called 911 on myself. A short time later the police showed up with a fire truck and ambulance outside the front of the bar. My friends raced out including my cousin. She tried to calm me down. She told me I was having a panic attack and she gets them sometimes herself. But I snapped back at her “I don’t trust you!” The police asked if I wanted to go home with her or go with the ambulance. I said the ambulance. So they took me to the hospital. They gave me an IV and I slept for a while. When I woke up my friends were there to take me home and laugh at me.

The next morning I woke up and everything was fine. I was convinced the pot was laced with something but my friend reassured me it wasn’t.

A year went by and I had started dating this other girl Kristy. Every so often I started to feel weird. Her and I wen to Cedar Point and after riding a couple of rides I felt really sick. Threw up and everything. First time ever getting sick there. We ended up leaving after that and I felt better on the way home. I few times after that I started to feel a little weird at night from time to time, but I would pass it off.

A little while later I had stayed up late one night eating lot so Hersey bars and drinking lots of coke. I set my alarm to wake up early to go find a job. But I remember laying down and thinking about about people who were paralyzed and how horrible that would be to have that happen. it freaked me out, but I fell asleep.

The next morning I woke up drenched in sweat to my alarm. I jumped up and immediately felt dizzy. My head was spinning, my heart was racing, I could hardly breath and my balance was off. I was living at home with my folks and no one was around. I was freaking out. I called my dad who told me to call and ambulance and I did. They came and took me to the hospital. I was shaking violently. I remember my leg uncontrollably flying up in the air and pleading with the nurse to knock me out. My dad arrived and I was in tears. I had no idea what was going on with me. They ran a bunch of tests and said nothing was wrong. I had a panic attack they said.

The next week was hell, but somehow my mom convinced me that some people have them and they they never have them again. But a the time I stopped drinking caffeine per the doctors suggestion. That was that and my life moved on as normal for the next three years.

In that three years I worked as a pizza driver and even returned to driving trucks for a short time. I went to cedar point and with my friends and my new girlfriend Jennie an had a great time. I shot my first feature film and my son Gabriel was born. I thought my life was back to normal and everything was fine.

Then I had lost my job, Jennie and I were struggling financially and having just had Gabe a nine months prior we were living with my parents and I was out of work staying at home all day watching the kids, Gabe and her five year son. I was worried about the job situation, having no money, no car and being home alone every day watching the two young kids. I felt like my life was going no where. One morning I woke up and took Jennie to work so I could barrow her car to take the kids to the doctors for Gabe’s checkup. Driving down the freeway I began to have anxiety. I got to the doctors which was in some medical offices attacked to a hospital and I was having a panic attack. Jennie had to get a ride from one of her coworkers to come pick me and the kids up. During that time they had taken me and the kids down to the emergency room. I slept in the waiting room for about an hour and then just left with her and kids.

It was then I realized this was something that was going to reoccur in my life.
During that time I went to see a doctor. She was really rude but she gave me a trial packet of some medication. Some anti anxiety meds. She also gave me her diagnosis. She said she though that my depression that I suffered as a teenager had turned into anxiety now that I was older. Oh how I would have preferred the depression instead.

I had gotten somewhat better for about a month and then on St. Patricks day I went to the bar with my friends and got really drunk. I came home to my girlfriend and the two kids, both of which were asleep and I went into the bathroom. I was stopped up, my stomach in knots and I couldn’t go. I began to freak out and had another panic attack. I took the mes the doctor gave me but still was freaking out, my leg jumping in the air I was was lying in bed. My heart racing. I finally fell asleep. But for months later I suffered from some really bad anxiety. My stomach would twist in knots, my heart would race from time to time. I would get dizzy, I would feel the tips of my fingers of toes go numb and so on.
I quit everything. I stopped drinking, smoking, continued to avoid caffeine and also quit eating chocolate because of it’s trace amounts of caffeine. I even became paranoid about drugs like Motrin because of it’s trace amounts of caffeine.
I remember sitting in the bathroom and having anxiety about text. I was freaking out because I was surrounded by text. Shampoo bottles, magazines, labels on everything. I thought I was going crazy. There was even a short time there where I questioned whether or not I was the devil. But eventually I was beginning to take control of it. After so much time I was learning things.

One of the things I learned was not to make a show out of it. If I was going to have a panic attack I wasn’t going to let anyone know I was having one. I figured out that by letting people know, all I was doing was setting a stage for myself in which I felt like I had to perform. Once people knew they wold constantly ask me if I was ok, look really concerned and try to help. I knew there was nothing they could do for me and that it was only making things worse by giving me so much attention. So I learned to suffer through it quietly. Eventually I learned to calm myself down within 3-5 minute. I learned to accept the panic and let it flow through me. Knowing that it wasn’t going to do anything to me, it wasn’t going to hurt me and it wasn’t going to kill me. At worst my head was going to spin out of control and make my heat race and feel really uncomfortable for a short time. Then it would be over.

Over time I also learned to distract myself. When I started thinking thoughts that would lead toward anxiety I would force myself to start thinking about other things. I also began to time myself and realize that a bad thought would possibly trigger anxiety in me a few minutes later and a good thought could counter act it a few minutes after that.

I got a job again working as an apprentice electrician and this helped take some of the stress off of me. I felt like my life was getting back to normal a little bit. I still suffered from anxiety but it was becoming less and less. It would happen here and there and especially when I laid down at night to go to sleep and let my guard down I would begin to feel a little anxious. But I was controlling it.

About a year later I quit my job, my girlfriend and I broke up and I thought I might fall back into my bad anxiety and panic. But I didn’t. It continued to be steady and kept under control. Eventually my girlfriend and I got back together and planned to get married. I called my old truck driving boss and asked if he could give me a job. He did and I got back on the road. By my third trip on the road I was five hours from home, my cell phone hadn’t been paid and got shut off that morning, I couldn’t find my delivery spot, I couldn’t call anyone and I realized how far I was from home. no matter what I did it would still take me five hours to get home. To get back to safety. I began to panic. I pulled it together enough to find my delivery spot, make my drop and headed home. I got caught in traffic and the entire time my heart was racing. I began listening to diggnation podcasts and distracting myself. I made it home, but when I did I quit my job, I wasn’t going to get back on the road again and have that happen to me. To have that feeling of being trapped so far away from home knowing no matter how hard I tried it would still take me that long to get back.

It was then, that experience, that I crossed over into becoming an agoraphobic. That is, someone afraid to be too far away from home.

luckily I had gotten a job offer from a local web media company and went to the interview. I got the job and now I was going to be working in a office building what I loved to do. I’m still working there, this September will be three years for me.

In those three years I’ve had one or two panic attacks. But they have never been nearly as bad as they were in the past. I still suffer from my anxiety but it comes and goes. I am able to control it well enough. There are some days and even week and even months I don’t feel it at all. As if its disappeared. Then there are days its gets to me, coming and going throughout the day in small intervals. I suffer through it and take control again, hoping the next day will be one of those good days where nothing happens.

I don’t take any anxiety medication. Although I do have a bottle on xanax just in case, I refuse to take it. I haven’t taken xanax in years. But it’s there as a last resort and knowing it’s there is good enough. Some days I feel like the drug has more affect on me by not taking it then it would if I decided to take it.

Right now my biggest obstacle is my agoraphobia. Last year I took a trip across the state for day and night on work assignment for a video shoot. I drove myself. I don’t let other people drive me. I like to feel like I have an exit. I’ll only let my girlfriend drive me because I fully trust her. I also let my friend Josh drive me to the store around the corner sometimes. But besides that I drive myself everywhere. Even when I do there are days I get anxious even when going across town. But I did do something amazing last year. I got on a plane and I flew to Minnesota. The plan was to go to Hawaii for work for a video shoot. One of the guys I work with and myself. It was a two our trip to Minnesota and from there we were to board a plane for an eight hour trip to Hawaii. I was feeling anxious and refused to board the plan to Hawaii. I got a ticket back home but had to wait two hours for the next plane. I felt fine knowing I was going home. Got on the plane and went home, thinking I might not have a job the next day. But as it turns out I did. My bosses gave me a talking to but I still had my job. Ultimately I could have looked at the whole experience as a complete failure. But instead I was proud of myself for being able to get on a plane (twice) and go all the way to Minnesota and back. It was an accomplishment for me.

I still feel afraid to travel long distances. But it’s something I must overcome, something I will overcome in time.
There are three things that have been my greatest weapons against my anxiety. The first is distraction. Distracting my mind from thoughts that lead to anxiety. The second is knowing that it’s something I have to live with and I can either let it control my life or I can control my life. The third one would be CBD oil, CBD has helped me cope my anxiety. I dеѕсrÑ–bе mу аnxіеtу as lÑ–kе having 10 vоісеѕ Ñ–n mу head telling me different thÑ–ngÑ•. WÑ–thÑ–n two mÑ–nutеѕ оf tаkÑ–ng thе best cbd oil, those voices Ñ•wÑ–tсhеd оff. I remember sitting Ñ–n mу garden lÑ–Ñ•tеnÑ–ng tо muѕіс аnd being able to fосuÑ• on it without bеіng dÑ–Ñ•trасtÑ–ng bу аnуthÑ–ng еlѕе. It wаѕ аmаzÑ–ng. After thаt I started tаkÑ–ng еvеrу dау.

Afterthoughts:
This has been a hard entry for me to write. I live my life trying not to bring attention to my anxiety. It’s what keeps the anxiety away. Distracting myself with other things. So to call so much attention to it by openly talking about it here, is kind of a tough thing. Just writing this causes me to feel a little anxious, but as I said, I’m not going to let it control me.

0 thoughts on “Panic and Anxiety

  1. Your not alone. I’ve dealt with it for years. I can say it does get easier, and I haven’t taken my meds in months. If you ever want to talk about it or anything else, you know where to find me

  2. Writing about it has probably brought you closer to overcoming it, even thought it was hard.
    If you can control your mind, you can control your body. And you’ve been doing just that. I’m sure you’ll overcome it completely one day.

  3. I agree with said above.  I don’t know what you go through, however I support you and you know I’m always here.  I will NEVER laugh at you for what ails you!

  4. Wow. You’re a strong person. This entry is pretty inspiring. You’ve been able to control your anxiety and your thoughts. Can I ask why you decided to write this entry? 

  5. I too have anxiety issues.  I haven’t driven on a public street for a couple of years now, though I am probably going to get my license back soon.

  6. Thanks for sharing that.  It couldn’t have been easy writing all of that.  I have suffered from major depression and also have a bit of anxiety (mainly social anxiety), and was even taking Klonopin for awhile.  There are experiences I have had that I would definitely describe as “panic attacks,” but they were not near as severe as what you described.  All I had was a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, racing thoughts, some sweats, and maybe even a little bit of involuntary finger-twitches (not full-out spasms like you described).  Usually, I could just concentrate on taking deep breaths and they would eventually go away.  I also have to agree with you that distraction is something that really does help.

  7. @lizheartshakespeare – Thank you so much for the support. Things will get better.

    @josiebunny – Well I’m hoping so. The idea is that if I can write about and begin to talk about it again without letting it stir in me then I have broken through one more barrier.

    @jewjewbeedragon – Thank you so much. It means alot that you’ve helped me so much and been really understanding about it all. I know it can be difficult and even a little frustrating, but I want you to know your support has been really appreciated.

    @bluedreamer85 – I’m glad it was. Not sure if that’s how I meant it originally, but if it ends up being that way then all the better.

    @JupitersDays – I think I decided to write it because I’m really open about myself on this blog. I also wanted to put the story down in words. I know that by writing this blog it makes me look weak, as it’s certainly not a quality people find redeeming. But it’s part of who I am or rather who I have been and hopefully who I won’t be in the future.

    @lonelywanderer2 – It’s a bit of a curse for those of us who think too much. But it can be overcome. It’s something you can unlearn. Thanks for sharing.

    @gsmith03 – Klonopin. Thanks for reminding me. That’s the drug the doctor gave me that I took the night I was drunk. I couldn’t remember the name. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experiences. These things can be controlled, the breathing thing didn’t really start working for me until years later. The mental distraction it what seems to work best for me. 

  8. @roxics – Weak? Darling, no. This entry shows how incredibly strong you are. Sure, you had your weak moments during your panic attacks, but seriously, who wouldn’t when they have no idea what the fuck is going on? In the end you took control of your life, of your panic attacks! That’s a hard thing to do. You got out of feeling helpless. You took control. And writing about this, sharing this very private expereince with people (friends and strangers) is a very hard thing to do. Being able to do so only shows how strong you are! Don’t see yourself as weak; I don’t! ^_~ 

  9. I can absolutely see how this was difficult to write. The good news is: you wrote it. (I am a big believer in writing as a form of, I hate using this word, therapy. It has helped me through a good many difficult situations.)  Thanks for sharing this. It was good to read, and I believe your efforts to overcome this will pay off in spades!

  10. I have similar anxiety, but it’s never gotten to a full-blown attack. I have Klonopin in the cupboard.

    I was gonna say, writing this has probably made you anxious, but you said that at the bottom. Talking about my anxiety usually gives me anxiety the next day. I don’t sleep well that night. So I’m gonna cut this comment short.

  11. i recently started having awful anxiety and panic attacks this year. And it’s true that even sleeping doesn’t help… I feel your pain <3

  12. Thank you very much indeed for sharing these very personal experiences. I’m so glad that you did. I have had my own struggles with depression at times and have received a lot of help from some sensible doctors and psychologists. It’s so reassuring to know that I am not alone but that there are  people like you who have learned to cope more than adequately with their personal problems.

    In my opinion, Michael, you are a courageous young man, a true ‘trailblazer’ and really one who is showing the way to live a normal life even amid abnormal circumstances!

    You have shown us how to “mount our circumstances and ride them to victory!” 

    Peace!

    David

  13. Wow. You went pretty far without college education and the “ideal” life. You’re cool. Actually, i can’t find a better word other than “cool”. Haha.

    Do you plan on attending college? I think you’re going to need to invest in education for at least two years (associate degree), so your life would be a little easier as a father with kids. Just a thought.

    Good luck!

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