Hi There! I’m Sarah! Welcome to my blog!
Anxiety and Panic Attacks can be the scariest thing in the world. Trust me, I know, I’ve had them. A lot of them. Before I tell you my story, I just want you to know that you aren’t alone. When I first started having panic attacks I was terrified and I felt like I was the only person in the world that this awful thing was happening to. I wasn’t and you aren’t either. There are a million people in this world that are going through the same thing you are. Also, you are going to be okay. I promise. Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
I was in my Sophomore year of college. I had a great boyfriend. My family was always there for me. I had more friends than I had time for. I had a great life. I was happy. I had just turned 21 and landed a job as a bartender at a local bar downtown. I went to work one afternoon and opened the bar just as I had done probably 10 times before. There were 2 people in the bar when my heart started beating. I started to feel sick to my stomach. I felt dizzy. I thought I was dying. I needed to get out. All I wanted was to leave. I managed to calm myself long enough to call my boss to come cover my shift. My boyfriend came to get me and I went to the emergency room. Once I was at the hospital I started to calm down. After an EKG and a few blood tests the doctor came in and told me I had an anxiety attack and sent me home. That was real helpful… NOT! It felt like the end of the world to me. Why was he acting so nonchalant about it!! I went home and went to sleep and went to classes without incident for the next week. The very next weekend I showed up to work and the second I walked through the door my heart started pounding. I immediately turned and walked out the door and never went back. I had no idea why these crazy episodes were only happening when I walked into that certain bar, but I was definitely not going back. Ever. Fast forward a few months to finals week. I was all prepared and ready to kick my finals in the tush. It was Saturday morning and I woke up not feeling well. I felt nauseous. I went into the bathroom to get sick and that is when my heart started pounding. I knew what was happening, but why was it happening here? I was in my own bathroom at my own house! I felt like the world was ending. This time was so much worse than the first. I was scared beyond belief, I couldn’t concentrate, I felt like I was going to pass out. “There is no way those doctors could possibly be right”, I thought. “There is something absolutely wrong with me.” I walked out of the bathroom and had my boyfriend drive me, yet again, to the emergency room. This time my Grandfather met us there, and this time I didn’t calm down when I got there. I still felt sick, I still felt nauseous, I still felt like I was dying/going crazy. I decided I wasn’t leaving until they gave me some answers. After a few hours (which felt like torture) a psychiatrist came into my room. He asked me a few questions and we made an appointment for me to see him the next day. My Grandpa took me home with him that night and my anxiety/panic went on throughout the night. The next day I woke up in a panic. I could barely even shower and get dressed for my appointment with the psychiatrist. My anxiety came in waves (it still does). It would be really bad and then I would start to calm down, then it would hit me hard again. I thought seeing this psychiatrist would help me. I thought he would just make it all go away. Boy was I wrong. He basically just told me I was a control freak, asked me a few more questions, and made my next appointment. I left his office completely let down. He tried putting me on anti-depressants which didn’t help. I wasn’t depressed. They just made my hands shake. Finally, I saw a woman psychiatrist who prescribed me with Xanax. I hated the idea of taking a drug like that but it was the only thing that calmed me down. I though Xanax was for crazy people. I could not, would not, accept that I might have a mental illness. The first few months after my major panic attack were awful. I didn’t want to drive alone, go to class alone, get my hair done alone, or anything else. I went through periods where I convinced myself that the panic attacks were caused by something that I ate, so I would just stop eating certain things. The morning that my really bad panic attack happened I had drank Mountain Dew. To this day I cannot drink MD. I wouldn’t go anywhere that I couldn’t get up and leave quickly should I start to have a panic attack. Slowly, with the help of my Xanax, I learned to cope with the panic attacks. I never took the Xanax on a regular basis. I probably didn’t even take it as often as I should because I was terrified of getting addicted to it. But just knowing that is was there and that it would help if I needed it made me feel better. I started reading articles to learn more about panic disorder and the more familiar I got with it, the more comfortable I was. I eventually started driving again and going places alone but I don’t think I will ever completely recover. I don’t really think anyone does. I still have days where I am anxious all day for no reason. I still have panic attacks. I have months where I feel completely normal and then months where I’m afraid to drive to the grocery store by myself. I think the only thing that you can do is keep pushing. Don’t let the anxiety/panic stop you from doing the things that you want to do. If you let it stop you, it will just continue to stop you. You have to fight back.
My reason for starting this blog is to help. Maybe if I had found a blog like this when I first started having panic attacks it would have helped me. I understand what you are going through. I am not a doctor, but I am a real person with plenty of experience in this area. I know that sometimes just talking about it can help. I also know what it is like to be embarrassed about what you are going through. If there is anything I can do to help, even if you just want to tell me your story, please email me. I want to hear from you. Really. Together we can make it better.