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Nat's Story

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Sunday, 04 January 2009

Hi there,

I always feel better talking about this, so here goes...when I was 6 I had brain surgery for a benign lesion.  I'm the youngest of 4, and my parents had gotten divorced the year earlier.  It was pretty serious, and I was in the hospital for at least a month, missing the first part of 1st grade.  I have been a hypochondriac ever since.  When I was younger, it was a joke with my family and friends, but honestly I stressed out so badly in my head, I made myself sick. A headache was a brain tumor, heartburn was a heart attack, and any type of stomach pain was cancer. 

My first panic attack was when I was 18 years old and stupidly smoking pot.  I smoked every now and then, but this particular time, I lost it.  I made my friend call the ambulance because I thought I was having a heart attack.  Needless to say, I stopped smoking pot, but the panic attacks continued through college.  I thought I had some type of neorological disorder because it felt when I touched something, it took a split second to register.  It was almost like an on-going panic attack.  I tried to explain it to my family, but nobody understood and it was pushed aside.  I never saw any help, and I dealt with it on my own.

I graduated, moved across the country to CA, and lived panic free for 5 years.  I wasn't anxiety free...still the crazy hypochondriac.  Then I broke up with my fiance (and boyfriend of 7 years), moved to back to Florida, went into major debt and joined a debt consolidation, became a teacher and had the WORST class imanginable, got into a new exciting relationship, and had a close friend pass away.  This all happened in a year and a half. I went  to a therapist because I just felt the anxiety building and building, and I didn't want the panic to start again.  Then school ended, I went on a family vacation, and I freaked out so bad!  I didn't sleep for 3 days.  My sister's new boyfriend thought it was him and he was ready to fly home, which added more stress.  The whole vacation, I was shut in my room crying and praying to God to get me through the week.  For the first time ever in my life, I began to feel depressed and I thought I just couldn't deal with this anymore.  My mom was so worried, she took me to the ER.  Of course, nothing was wrong, and he gave me a xanax.

I then went to my primary care, who ordered every test imaginable, and gave me a prescription to Paxil.  She gave me a high dose, and I think that is the wrong thing to do with Panic because we are already hyper aware of our physical symptoms, and I lost my mind from it.  I didn't sleep for 3 days, and had such a huge panic attack, my roommate called my therapist at 9 at night, and the next day I went to a phyciatrist.  She took me off Paxil, slowly put me to Zoloft, and gave me colonopins.

It is working well.  I still have anxiety, but no more panic.  I feel like I am a prisoner in my head, and detached from the rest of the world.  I take 1/2 colonopin maybe 2-3 days a week because I don't want to get addicted.  I stopped drinking, started yoga, and just really focusing on myself, not to mention my students this year are 10 times more well-behaved (FYI, the entire hallway of teachers are on some type of antidepresants...crazy, huh).

I want to get off medicine.  Every one thinks it is too early, but now knowing what I do about Panic, I feel like I can.  I also got a workbook called "The panic attack workbook " forgot the author, but I know his website is, and it has really really helped.  It is amazing to me that people understand this and can say the exact things that run through my head like "What is I go crazy and become institutionalized."  They sound so crazy, but it helps so much to know that I'm not the only one in the world who has these thoughts.


Thanks for reading this!  I am looking forward to meeting all of you!


Comments (5)add comment

substance said:

i totally know what u mean about the three day panic...ive had that happen to me alot and it is NOT FUN!!! but kudos to you for getting through sorry to hear that u had to deal with that surgery at such a young age and that your family didnt understand. mine didnt either and most of them still dont. i think its great that you are here we cacn benefit alot from people that actually understand what we are going through and dont just nod there heads and smile. anxiety has a way of making you feel like you ar the only one in the world that this has ever happened to. when i came across statements like u mentioned i couldnt believe it. it is very comforting to know that you arent the only one and lucky for us discoveries about treatments of anxiety are ongoing. im glad you got yourself the help you needed and agree that the paxil dose was a bit much to begin with. it sounds like you have really supportive friends around you and im sure you have a very bright future...all the best to you and ur loved ones in 2009.

feel free to msg me if u ever need to talk or mayb just have a question!
January 10, 2009
Votes: +0 said:

I myself have lived with anxiety for a long time and intermittent panic attacks for the past 8 years now.
I think mine started when my father died when I was fourteen, even though he had cancer we did not know he was dying and it came as a big shock, especially to me. The same thing has happened to me in terms of hypochondria. Every pain I have is going to be cancer or something terminal, I sit typing this in bed with heat packs on my legs as I have had pain in my leg for three months which is getting worse (same place as my Dad's cancer started), have been to the doctors twice and they said it is just muscular but what do they know. That is what they said to my dad for over 6 months!!!! I don't think that it helps because I have four children 11, 8, 6 and 1 and I cannot see that I will be here to see them grow up. So I cannot have much time left can I when the eldest is 11, must leave me three years at the most!

I hope that things get brighter for you this year! Please msg me if you need to, I know what you are going through.
January 10, 2009
Votes: +0

ceejay said:

Best of Luck to YOU!
Thanks for writing your story, I'm sure it will be inspirational to many because it has so many common themes! I can relate to all of it.

I had such similar experiences as you - all I would really like to say is follow your doc's lead in terms of weaning off the meds. Yes, all of us would like to be med free immediately but if we give it the time and have the patience it can be an experience that actually helps us in the long run. I took a very long time slowly weaning off of Effexor and I believe that is why I have been so successful without it.

Besides, the patience, tolerance and trust of the therapist that this builds are all parts of the puzzle of recovery! It is not just about the meds, it is often about our relationship to them as well.

So give yourself all the chances in the world, and all the support possible, to have the best experience you can!!

Take care - I'm glad you're here!
January 12, 2009
Votes: +0

ricky said:

i dont know how many people still view this sit but that nat fellows story isnt to far from mine made a dumb choice smokin pot and i had to walk to my car to get a can of ferbrezz or how ever u spell it(need to get the smell out of the house)on the walk to the car i was short of breath and had a chest pain i couldnt figure out what was goin on till i got to the car i heard a thumping noise and collapsed in my car the first thing i thought was oo my god im having a heart attack at 18 soo much was running through my head i looked at my friend and sayed call 911 the only thing i could really think of at that time after that i blacked out and thought i died(goo ahead get a good laugh out of it cuz it gets a lil better) my friend runs into the house and gets the rest of my friends and when they get there i was slowly comming around i hear one of them say and i quot "we'll bury the body in the woods" good friends right. after that it was 5 trips to the ER in the following week then a cardiologist just to tell me ur fine u just have Panic Attacks i have been living with them for a year a 4 months cant drink anymore(a sacrifice i was willing to take at the time)now i fell like the lady off of that move liminy snickets it has the 3 kids in it and there parents die in a mysterious fire go watch it because you'll laugh when u see the lady and immediately think hey thats what that one guy says hes like i have gone off pretty far anyways it the lady thats afraid of almost anything just watch the movie and you'll get it anyways thats my story you want to say something to me send an email to me.
January 19, 2009
Votes: +0

shaun said:

The same thing happened to me. I was seventeen and had been smoking weed for a while. i skipped school one afternoon and bam it happened . of course i was taken to the hospital. A month later i had to wear a heart monitor. i wore it for 3 months and of course nothing happened. the day i sent it back i had one. that was in 1996. to this day i still have them. it started out in my chest and now it affects my head. i have been oin and off medication. i have never took any long enough to help. i struggle greatly everyday. i guess my pride is too great for me to really seek help. i am severely depressed because of this. any feedback or advice would be greatly appreciated. i am running out of hope
February 17, 2009
Votes: +0

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