Sunday, January 28, 2007

Panic attacks?

I think I'm having panic attacks. I wasn't going to post about this on my blog, because you know, some things really are too personal to broadcast to the whole world, but I changed my mind. Why? Well, interestingly, the more people I talk to about it the more I am told stories of other people this type of thing is happening to. I'm one of those "misery loves company" types of folks, so this is working out well for me. I tell you my sob story, then you share yours. Yay!

I think this tale of mine probably begins as a young child. I used to ask to go home from school all of the time because of tummy aches. There are many memories of sitting in a chair next to the teachers desk with my coat on and my school bag in hand waiting for my mom to come and pick me up. Mostly I just got dosed with a lot of pepto bismal and that was about it. Fast forward to the past few months. I've been having some of the same symptoms I had as a young child. For those of you who are mamas, I liken my symptoms to morning sickness. I feel like I have morning sickness. More recently these symptoms are accompanied by weakness, shakiness and fear. Before anyone starts telling me it's a blood sugar thing (which is what I initally thought, and what it certainly sounds like), I don't think it is. I get this at all times of day, including right after meals.

So, I have been getting obsessed with this, as it has gotten much worse over the past little while. I was freaking out so much one day last week that I called Matt to come home from work. I ended up settling myself down, but it had never been so bad that I asked him to leave his work to help me. As I talk to more people I hear stories of all kinds of crazy symptoms manifesting as panic attacks. I had no idea.

It's also driving me crazy to get the advice "just breathe" and "it's all in your head, you'll be okay" because when you're in the middle of it you're NOT okay. You think you're dying. My sister told me tonight that she was told that it actually does help to "just breathe" because focusing on your breath takes your brain away from the panic and focuses on something else.

At any rate, this is all sort of self-diagnosed. I would love to figue out what's really going on, but I am not sure I'm up for making the rounds through doctors to figure it out. I will probably just wait until it gets really bad, as opposed to the just pretty bad that it is now.

So the final question is, why would this be happening now? My life is infinitely less stressful now that it was, say, around the time Eloise was born, yet I felt a million times better then than I do now. Why would that be? Is this just another mama thing?


  1. Don't underestimate the fact that raising two little people, navigating the world and meeting everybody's needs all the time, is very stressful. Plus the fact that the time you mention, around Eloise's birth, is not so long ago. Could your symptoms maybe be a result of cumulative stress?

    I also think that (for myself at least) being home means being in my own head a lot more than I might be if I was working outside the home and had other things to focus on. For myself I've found that that can exacerbate any stress I'm feeling.

    And you're still within that 6 month birth window, right? I read somewhere that it can take up to 6 months for your hormones to kind of "normalize" (yeah, right) after birth. So maybe that's playing a role in this?

    It might not hurt to go see your regular doctor about it-if you have one you trust that won't just say "oh, it's all in your head, here's some valium..." Also, maybe looking into some reiki might be an alternative to working out emotional stress, I believe.

  2. Well, I'm not a Dr., but I have had panic attacks in the past. The kind where your chest tightens and you cannot breathe. The kind where you are so stressed that you want to jump out of your body and run away. That was in college.

    Now, years later I have learned that I get stressed out very easily. When things get yucky, especially financially, I cannot deal. My stomach hurts. I feel sick. I cannot NOT think about it until it is resolved. It's like a sick, "in trouble", stomach in knots feeling.

    Ok...the fear thing. I have heard that with motherhood, pregnancy, and hormonal changes that many moms suddenly feel very fearful of things they have never worried about in the past. I'm not sure what you're fearing, but my SIL went through a faze where she feared everything! Anything that could hurt her or the baby. It started about mid-way through her 2nd pregnancy. I think things are getting better for her. Hope that helps make you feel better.

    Love that we can talk about this! he..he..

  3. Hello!

    You don't know me, but I've had pretty bad panic attacks in the past. I had them until I went to my psychiatrist, and she assured me that they are COMPLETELY normal. ALMOST EVERYBODY gets them at some time in their life. It's just a reaction to stress, and your body does the "fight or flight" thing. But since there's really nothing to fight or run away from, because it's just stress and not a flesh-and-blood attacker, your body freaks out. When I was having them, I felt terrified, I couldn't breathe, I cried uncontrollably, and I felt like I was going insane. I even recoiled from my then-fiance's (now husband's) touch as if he was attacking me.

    My psychiatrist told me that the natural effects of adrenaline will last in your body about 10-15 minutes, and then it'll go away if you don't aggravate it. It can be easily aggravated, though, by getting freaked out and upset and thinking you're crazy. So if you feel a panic attack on, try to relax as much as possible. Turn on the TV, eat a snack, anything that will keep your mind off the feelings of fear, and it will naturally pass in about 10 to 15 minutes. When you give into the fear is when it lasts longer and can be really debilitating.

    After my psychiatrist told me that, I had one more panic attack, but I had learned how to control them, so they didn't scare me anymore. I haven't had one since.

    God bless and good luck!
    Sara Carter

  4. I was going to email you personally, but I figure making this public is good for me and other people with panic attacks too. You know I've struggled with panic attacks, don't you? In fact, in 2001 I had full-on agoraphobia and couldn't leave my house alone. Panic attacks suck but you can master them. We should talk.


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