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Panic attacks, anxiety and grief- oh my!


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So, I have had panic attacks starting in 2008. I was working in a retail music, game, movie and toy store. I was just stocking and was just about alone in the store- it wasn't even open yet- and I couldn't breathe, like the way the "wind was knocked out of you" as a kid if you fell on your back. I started to become paralyzed with fear at various locations- just waiting for my wife at an appointment, I would freak out and start hyperventilating. It made it so that I walked out of a busy Christmas season shift in 2010. I had to get out. 

I know that I have a family history of mental illness and my mother and I have agoraphobia to varying degrees. But ultimately, the initial dormant panic disorder was triggered by my wife's health issues. After struggles with depression and anxiety as a teenager, I thought (with the love of my wife) I had it all licked. I was able to quickly get another job at a call center (no more retail!) but I couldn't handle that for long, as the anxiety had dug in and wouldn't let go. Every mental issue I had suppressed came to join the party and for ten years (and a lot of years trying to get disability) I couldn't work. Annette understood and worked until she couldn't anymore. In 2018, I had no choice, and was able to work in another call center, only with Annette's encouragement and cheerleading, until she passed. 

With her gone, all my "stuff" isn't going anywhere. I wish it would, as I am constantly reminded (including in my dreams) that I'm mooching off my family, and I need to find work. Unfortunately, the panic disorder kicks in, even after I tell myself that I have no reason to stress out. I've been having to go to the grocery store for the family lately, and it's a "fight or flight" mad rush through the aisles like I'm on Supermarket Sweep. 

You'd think that with the reason that my panic disorder is, very sadly, gone, that I would be able to "power through". I need to get some kind of life (as much as I really don't want to) and "earn my keep", but with so many triggers, and songs, commercials, products in the store I see that make me upset, I feel like I'll never be able to function in any useful capacity. (COVID has not helped)

I know some of you have panic disorder and anxiety (Hi Gwen) and it helps to know that I'm not alone in this, though beyond cyberspace, I feel very alone. My mom may have some of the same mental issues, she is not understanding and sympathetic. She just wasn't raised to be warm and we haven't hugged once since I moved back here. Maybe I'm looking for a little encouragement from The Forum. I always appreciate the opportunity to vent that's allowed here. It is very helpful- and necessary. 

James

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As I just had a day battling PD at the surgeons, I know how hard it is.  I had the fortune of extreme pain to distract me for a bit.  
 

Have you been to a doctor for medication to control yours?  I would be basically non functional without mine.  
 

I don’t ever want to 'push' meds, but they can give you some control so YOU have control.  Most doctors are very tight-fisted about prescribing them.  I had to get a psychiatrist when I lost my great PCP.  
 

I know it turned my world upside down.  Therapy helps, but it doesn’t replace a physical abnormality in the brain.  That would be like trying to handle diabetes, high blood pressure or any physical condition with talk.  Wouldn’t work.  
 

I cannot imagine not having a warm relationship with my mother.  That breaks my heart for you.  
 

Anxiety is a huge part of grief too.  Wasn’t addressed much, but more is coming out about it.  How could we not be anxious waking every day in a world forever changed?  Even when I don’t think I’m thinking about Steve, I am.  I carry him in me all the time.  

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19 hours ago, nashreed said:

So, I have had panic attacks starting in 2008.

I had them before that but that was the year it was so bad I went on Buspirone, will take it the rest of my life, I've always had GAD, but at least Buspirone keeps the bad attacks at bay, hard to tell some from a heart attack!   It's something I've struggled with and one of the most misunderstood disorders, people think we just aren't "trusting God!" ha!  They need to experience this to understand it, I have deep faith, I've tried everything, quoted scripture to myself in the middle of the night (when it often displays at its worst as I can't shut my brain off, oh that it had an "off switch!)...it does, it's called a sleeping pill, Trazodone 50 mg (more is for depression but I take the mildest form which helps you sleep...most of the time but not always.  I also take a Benedryl at night, makes me tired, that helps.

No, you are not alone in this, you have plenty of company.

@MartyTWow!!!  I love your new picture!  You look so YOUNG!   

 

 

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11 hours ago, Gwenivere said:

 

Have you been to a doctor for medication to control yours?  I would be basically non functional without mine.  
 

I don’t ever want to 'push' meds, but they can give you some control so YOU have control.  Most doctors are very tight-fisted about prescribing them.  I had to get a psychiatrist when I lost my great PCP.  
 

 

Right now, I'm only taking .5 MG of Alprazolam a day. In the five years it took to get on disability, I was prescribed every anti-anxiety med ever (and I went to years of therapy), Some of the meds made me so sleepy and out of it during the day. I was falling asleep listening to music (my one joy in life). But all of them except Xanax made me feel not like myself- they made me not care about anything. At the time, with Annette to take care of, that scared me more than anything. As much as I don't like myself, I need to "feel" like myself- at least its a feeling I can trust. Maybe I should look into counseling again, but I have no idea what resources there are here. And with COVID and the protocols in California, I don't think its going to be easy. I have no privacy to make Zoom appointments, and even if I did- I wouldn't want to. It's awkward enough to deal with people in person. I also have (undiagnosed) Autism or Asperger's. I can't look people in the eye- I am beyond socially awkward. I face the rest of my life alone, and I've accepted it- but it doesn't make it easy.

 

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What you have described to me sounds like Asperger's, which is under the umbrella of Autism but didn't used to be, Lord knows why they lump it there, for their purposes, not ours, same as my previous doctor listed me as having COPD because another doctor told me I had Asthma, current doctor says Asthma doesn't mean you're COPD and I don't have it even, but without a pulmonary test, which he doesn't want to do during Covid, he can't remove it.  Medical has become bureaucratic like everything else.

My XF had Aspergers, couldn't look people in the eye, he'd turn his head kind of down/sideways, had social anxiety, etc. but super intelligent!  Aspies are often gifted musically, he didn't play an instrument or sing persae but he loved music, he'd fixate on things, usually one thing at a time, it used to be computers, then K-pop, but always something.  Often carried to extreme.  He is a wonderful person, great sense of humor, but when I learned about Asperger's, it explained a lot, helped me accept him as is.

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Yeah, absolutely. Even before losing Annette, I was always going from one hobby to another. I collected a very specific type of laserdisc, then a very specific type of CD (the earliest releases from 1983-85), always something...It was to distract me from the health problems Annette was having, and it helped me cope for a while. I have no musical talent, but my hearing is super sensitive and when I listen to music, I listen to the tape hiss between songs, and all the little things- not just the song. If it doesn't sound good or "right" to me, it puts me in a bad mood. Even now I have stacks and stacks of CD's in my room and in my Mom's living room in boxes. I have to have them in stacks to see the titles and always have a wide variety of choices. 

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11 hours ago, nashreed said:

But all of them except Xanax made me feel not like myself

I understand.  Xanax is the best med for anxiety and panic, IMO and experience.  I had some trials on other meds and experienced what you did.  I’m amazed a half milligram is all you take.  I can only compare to myself and we’re all so different.  I know someone using an antidepressant, but still needs it.  
 

11 hours ago, kayc said:

What you have described to me sounds like Asperger's,

I had a friend with it.  It took a lot of work to maintain the relationship.  He was highly intelligent, but lacking in social skills.  I had to lay down boundaries and coach him on our interaction.  We discussed so many topics and it was so informative with his knowledge.  It was sad he was estranged from most of his family and had a failed marriage engagement.  I’ve lost track of him after he had to move to Portland after losing his dog and townhouse.  He was totally into being with dogs and would volunteer at shelters.  That was his passion.  

James, I’m just so glad you share here and trust us.  You are a valued member of the family whenever you need us.

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@nashreedsorry that this is a little late.

I had experienced anxiety and depression before the loss of my boyfriend but after meeting my boyfriend, all of that completely disappeared. 
A couple years later, my boyfriend passed away and it all came back a hundred times worse, I can understand that feeling, I guess losing your spouse is a different experience but I understand the horrible panic attacks you get, at first I got so scared, I literally thought I was dying.

I can say that therapy and meds saved my life. i take brintellix and go to therapy every two weeks, there, I learned how to cope with anxiety and the relationship with my friends and family.

I really hope you get better, you deserve to be happy again💗

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Thank you, Smpl.  Do I dare to even think of being happy? I'd like to just be ok at this point. 

I'm so sorry that you weren't able to be with him longer. I had 30 years with my Annette, and it still seems like it was barely a blip now. Living in my same childhood home, my same teenage room, it really feels like it didn't happen- it'll be 17 months tomorrow that she's been gone. I have proof and evidence and memories she was with me, but I feel like a very old, decrepit teenager. It's pretty odd. 

I'd probably give therapy another go if things were normal. I can't do Zoom and all that. I can barely talk on the phone- I hate it. I always think that I know all the answers of what I'm supposed to do to overcome my anxiety, and my grief- but I really don't. 

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10 hours ago, Gwenivere said:

James, I’m just so glad you share here and trust us.  You are a valued member of the family whenever you need us.

Absolutely!

7 hours ago, nashreed said:

it really feels like it didn't happen- it'll be 17 months tomorrow that she's been gone.

It's weird how it all feels warped, time, reality, all of it.  I feel like my life with George wasn't real, like a movie I watched long ago, but I see pictures, our marriage certificate, etc...I know with my  head it was real but it doesn't feel it anymore...yet on the other hand, I remember his love and it has to hold me, I sure don't see any other Love here!  I'm glad I got to experience it even though it wasn't nearly long enough.

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