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Wednesday 21 October 2009

Slightly Off-Center Indeed!

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."
- Bene Gesserit’s Litany Against Fear -Dune
I've suffered with panic attacks for as long as I can remember. When I was a child I would get anxiety so bad in the classroom and I would need to excuse myself and hide out in the washroom until the panic passed and I felt "normal again". Of course, being very young I didn't recognized the episode as a panic attack, just thought I was sick or getting sick.

As a teenager I would have frequent panic attacks while in a shopping mall with friends or in the classroom. My natural response to the attack was usually the "fight" (fight or flight) response and I would lash out at teachers or my peers. Because these episodes weren't recognized as panic attacks, I was labeled as a "difficult" or "troubled" student.

In my early 20's a young mother and wife, I had a period of 2 years where I would have really bad attacks. One time I had chocked on something I was eating which triggered a panic attack and as a result I hardly ate a thing for nearly two weeks; food in my mouth would automatically trigger panic and my throat would close up and I would feel I couldn't swallow. Answering the door to strangers would trigger panic so I sit quietly and wait for the caller to go away. Being away from my kids for any long stretch of time would make me incredibly anxious, so I stayed home with them more and more and hardly ever went to to parties or weekends away with my husband.

Now, this all makes it look like I have suffered from panic on a constant basis from a young child to an adult but that is not the case. These periods of panic and anxiety would come on for weeks, months and sometimes even years but would eventually get better and I would resume a "normal life", able to enjoy all that life had to offer.

So this brings me to the reason why I have been away from my blog for so long. Well, as you might have already guessed... They're Back!!! I really have been feeling so lousy this month. I was hoping the panic/anxiety/low mood would diminish over a week or two but no such luck. Last night I had one of the worst panic attacks ever; it came on just out of the blue while I was sitting at home doing some work on the computer. Just recently I had an attack in a restaurant, at the WalMart line, on a Sunday drive up the valley, turned down a trip to New York for fear I would have panic attacks, and the thought of just getting behind the wheel of a car sends my heart racing and makes me weak in the legs.

Two weeks ago after having another -out of blue attack- while sitting in the comfort of my home, I decided I had had enough and needed to get this under control so I called my Doctor and made an appointment. I poured my heart and soul out to my MD with my husband by my side (so supportive... love you babe), convinced that after I was finished spilling my guts, she would call the men in the white coats to come and take me away... (HA HA!). To my surprise, she didn't seem too fazed by anything that I described to her. She diagnosed me with having Panic Disorder which was most likely caused by a Neurotransmitter imbalance, prescribed a trial of Zoloft, ordered some blood work, and an EKG. I stopped taking the Zoloft after the third day because it was making me terribly jittery and irritable but I have been considering giving it another try. My blood work all came back good (except for my thyroid test which came back extremely high which set off some alarm bells considering my thyroid gland should no longer be working... but that's another post) so that pretty much rules out something being physically wrong.

I have been trying so hard not to avoid doing things because it might trigger a panic attack, but it's becoming more and more difficult to do. I am constantly worried about an attack coming on out of the blue, it's exhausting and I find it hard to relax and enjoy myself these days.

Recently I've been getting quite a few emails from readers of Slightly Off-Center wondering where I have been... (you guys are awesome btw). Truth is, I've been wanting to write a post for over a week now but didn't know how to get back into the swing of things. Do I pretend like nothing is wrong and write posts about big fluffy clouds or changing temperatures? I haven't been in the mood to take photos so that leaves those kinds of posts out. Or do I spill my guts and let it all out?
I choose the later, obviously... "Slightly Off-Center" indeed!

Ps. It's good to be back! Thank you all for you kind emails and messages... You rock :)


Billy Rhythm said...

Glad you're back! I frequent the blogs of people who have something interesting to say. What they say isn't always photos and puffy clouds. There are days of dirt, grit, skank, and wind down with a martini 'cause they day stunk so bad! I'm cool reading that too--'cause it happens to all of us!

kayerj said...

Yay! I've been watching for your return! My advice is to blog in your comfort zone. And if it makes you feel better to have company--I also suffer from panic disorder. A trip to Wal-mart nearly does me in :( I suffer from many of the same things you just mentioned. For me I don't like to write about it, but I know for others it helps out immensly. Either way, I'm staying put. Your page is one of my favorite places to visit. BTW. I like the new paper. Gray is calm and soothing.

cheatymoon said...

Ah Jack, it's so good to see you in my google reader.

I was hoping you weren't having a tough time, but I'm glad that you feel well enough to write. I know how exhausting it all is...

Blog when you can. I love that you told your story.

InventingLiz said...

I hope letting things out here brings you some relief, and that your doctor can figure something out. Missed you, and glad you came back!

koreen (aka: winn) said...

I'm just glad you're still out there! I like having a fellow Nova Scotian blogger around. And I can relate. I get anxiety attacks too. It really is good to let it out and share with your "friends"... it helps to let the pressure off. And you're definitely among friends here. I'm glad you're not all just about clouds and fluffy stuff, but the real stuff too. It's important. Take care.

Oh, and by the way, if your gut is telling you a medication isn't working... listen to it. SSRI's aren't necessarily for anxiety disorders; they're for depression disorders, and lumping those two categories together isn't fair; they can have very different causes. It's good that you're talking to your doctor about it.

Gal Friday said...

An honest post--and I am sorry the attacks are back.It seems so many people do experience this, so you are not alone, even if it feels like it sometimes.
Hope some kind of medication can work for you(I never reacted well to drugs prescribed for A.D.D., myself)or some therapy--and please hang in there--sounds like you have a good team(doctor, husband) on your side.
I have had a few isolated panic attacks in my life so far(last one was at a Chrsitmas party last year--very embarrassing )and they do seem to ebb and flow depending on stress(?), hormones(?)...who knows.

Pseudo said...

Oh Jack. I'm so glad you told your story. You will make others braver and feel less alone.

My husband has anxiety attacks. The come in waves. He finds that running helps.

He and my son make me anxious with their mood swings. I find meditation with mood music helps me. And long walks.

Hope you feel better with each day.

Shadow said...

oh hunny, i hope this passes soon. you're such a shining light. i missed you!!!

Unknown said...

I admire what you have done here. I love the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that is working for you as well. Do you have any more info on this?
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