If anyone has experienced panic attacks, they would know how terrifying it is.
I thought I would never be subject to it nor did I think I will ever experience anxiety in my life thinking that I was immune to it due to my seemingly confident and relaxed personality.
So I thought.
I have first experienced it while driving to home from work one evening. It was Friday and the traffic on LA freeways, as some of you might know, is terrible.
I was driving without thinking much but I suddenly felt my heart pounding and felt breathless. I immediately called my husband to pray for me and he did. But it went on for about 10-15 minutes and subsided.
I thought maybe it was due to stress and thought nothing of it after a few days.
Then it came again after a few months at my office. I felt breathless and I couldn’t breathe. So I ended up visiting a doctor nearby with my co-worker. The doctor did an exam, took x-rays and found nothing unusual. So, after a few days, I forgot about it again since it didn’t last more than 15 minutes.
This year was relatively stress free at work compared to last year when our company was going through many personnel shifts and chaos so-to-speak.
A month ago, I had a day off and watched a movie with my 13-years old son. Then suddenly, I gasped silently. I wasn’t able to breathe well so I urged my son to leave in middle of movie. I felt sorry to my son but I couldn’t sit there in a closed space watching a movie.
That morning before the incident, my cardiologist coincidentally called me to get a regular check-up. So, I scheduled an appointment, going through all the tests. Nothing unusual showed up. The doctor only recommended me to exercise regularly.
A few days later, I was driving back home from LA to Orange County on Friday evening again and there it was. The panic attack! I couldn’t breathe, my heart was pounding and I had cold sweats, trembling on top. I exited the freeway in fear of my life and called 911. It was the first time I called 911.
The fire trucks came in 2 minutes, very fast! They checked my pulse and asked series of questions. While I was being taken to a hospital nearby in their fire truck, I still felt breathless and felt like dying. But the fire drivers were chatting among themselves while I felt like dying. I’m sure they didn’t mean to be rude but I felt they weren’t that caring.
In any case, I got to ER which was more amazing. Not in a good way but in a bad way. Even when I felt like dying, the nurses, staffs or anyone could care less about me. It took almost 40~50 minutes before I was taken inside from the ER waiting lobby. In the meanwhile, my husband and my children rushed to the hospital all worried.
By this time, I was feeling a bit better. This is about 90 minutes after the panic attack occurred.
While waiting for a nurse or a doctor, many things raced through my mind. I thought I might have some heart problem or lung problem or some cancer that could be causing it. And on top of that, I was internally criticizing how ER system is so messed up. I thought hundreds of people could die like flies while waiting in ER.
With the blood test result, the doctor finally came at around midnight. I was admitted to ER around 8:30 p.m. The nurse and the doctor asked me many questions focusing around my life. If I was stressed at work, home, going through a divorce and etc. I said I didn’t have any trauma or tragedy but just had stress at work at times and that I was always very busy.
The doctor finally told me that blood test result showed nothing and it was all normal. And he said I had a panic attack. When I told him it couldn’t be the panic attack, protesting that it was all physical symptoms and that I didn’t have much anxiety; the doctor still said that some people who have panic attacks can’t even open their hands, meaning some have more severe physical symptoms. That sort of made me mute.
He prescribed anxiety medication and let me go. He told me to relax and not to take the medication unless I really need it because I could get addicted to it. I thought the doctor looked more like Einstein in a doctor’s uniform but nevertheless, he seemed nice. So, I left feeling a bit confused of the doctor’s diagnosis.
After I came back, I still visited series of doctors to rule out anything physical but I couldn’t find anything unusual to this date. It’s been about 3 weeks now.
After this horrible panic attack incident that lasted over one hour, I was so afraid of driving from work to home especially after dark. I thought I might lose my sanity if I go on. But I remembered Einstein doctor telling me I won’t die from it so I tried to find some comfort in that, constantly telling myself I’m okay.
After this incident, I’m doing a couple of things that are helping me.
1. Since my internal medicine doctor told me I had GERD, I started taking anti-acid medicine and I found this aloe vera drink on Amazon that seems to work for me so I started to drink this. (I’m a bit Amazon Shopaholic)
George’s Aloe Vera Supplement, 64 Fluid Ounce
I don’t know why but somehow GERD also brings about chest pain and for me, my throat and upper chest feels like it’s in a fog, if you know what I mean. When I had the last panic attack, my body felt like a tight balloon with no air and I couldn’t digest at all. So, I thought I had to do something about GERD associated indigestion as well to lessen the intensified feelings I had during the panic attack.
2. I started exercising finally! My husband had been telling me for a few years but I never listened giving excuses of my busy schedules, family, work, church and etc. I started walking my quiet neighborhood for about 30 minutes and I started to feel great! My indigestion was getting better and I felt generally liberated. I guess that’s why people tell you to exercise to release stress.
3. I prayed everyday while commuting to home in the evening for peace and to keep me safe. And God did answer my prayers. After I faced dreaded commute head-on and succeeded arriving at home safely over the course of two weeks, it has mostly eliminated my driving trauma and I don’t have much anxiety driving back home anymore. I could understand why people with this symptom hate to go outside of home and why they want to be near their families or hospitals. I now have to face the challenge of traveling outside the country on a biz trip in November but I’ll be praying for it in advance!
4. Please read this book. While I was browsing Kindle Unlimited books, I came across this book about anxiety that got really good reviews~ I just bought it as well but I trust this book will help me as it helped many other readers.
by Barry McDonagh
If anyone has read this, I hope it helped you.
God bless you!