It’s back. Creeping over me while I’m asleep. I wake up in a wave of fear. My heart is beating fast, my arms have a numb, tingly feeling, and my palms are sweating. I concentrate on my breathing. If I can just breathe deeply, then I can control it and not have a full blown panic attack. I get out of bed and walk around. I go downstairs and try to think about normal things, not about the fear that wants to overtake me. I go back upstairs, have a drink of water and lay back down. I can calm myself, but if my thoughts go back to thinking about the panic, it will start all over again. I eventually fall back asleep. Later, I wake again to the same sensation. Waves of hot and cold. This time, I feel some slight tightness in my chest. I think, ‘I’m having a heart attack’. I think, ‘I can’t die, I have two babies to take care of.’ I know that I’m having a panic attack and that I’m not going to die, but at the time, it’s hard to convince myself. I finally fell asleep last night at 3am.
I have been having panic attacks on and off for eight years. They started one sunny afternoon as I was driving on a highway. I had blood drawn shortly before, so I thought it was low blood sugar. I got off at an exit and bought a candy bar and a soda. It didn’t help. I struggled to drive the rest of the way home. The panic eventually spilled over into everyday life, and while I fought it as long as I could, I had to start taking Lexapro. I weaned off it when I wanted to get pregnant with Logan, and I was fine throughout my pregnancy. I didn’t start having feelings of panic again until Logan was about 18 months old. I started having the waves of panic and some numbness when I would drive on the highway. It was mild, and I could fight through it. But soon, I didn’t want to drive on the highway at all. It was just too much. I would completely depend on my husband or a friend to drive if I had to go long distances. It had been isolated to driving. Until last night.
I can’t figure out exactly what is triggering my panic attacks. I had them before and after I was married. Before and after I had kids. Before and after I became vegan. I can only guess that I have them on the highway because of everything moving so fast around me, and that I have them at night because of stress. I know I don’t deal with stress very well. I usually carry it around with me, tucking it down deep inside so that I’m not consciously thinking about it. Maybe my body is trying to deal with it when my defenses are down, when I sleep.
It looks like I will have to try another anti-anxiety pill. If it were just happening when I drive, I could work around it, but since it’s slipping into other parts of my life, I have to control it. If anyone has another option, I’m open to hearing about it. I am still nursing my ten month old, so I am not happy that I will have to take a pill that could affect her, but I also can’t feel anxious and be worried that I’m going to have a panic attack when I’m taking care of my kids.
So many women I know are on anti-anxiety/depression pills. These are all women with great lives, and from the outside, you would not think they have any reason to be anxious or depressed. Maybe we’re all just taking on too much, or maybe the world is moving too fast. Whatever it is, I wish we could all just ‘relax’ and be happy without Big Pharm.
If you are one of those ladies out there (or men), and you have a pill you like, please leave a comment or message me. I’m not going back on Lexapro due to the ‘electric shock’ feelings, the weight gain, and the general feeling of ‘I don’t give a shit about anything’. Let me know what’s worked for you.