I Hate Panic Attacks!



I Hate Panic Attacks!

Fishing With My Daughter

I really dislike the word HATE but I don’t know how else to describe my feelings towards panic attacks. They pop up, uninvited, and can literally knock you down. In fact, last evening, a panic attack sucker punched me so hard while I was out to eat with my family that I had to get up and leave.

Panic Attacks are Very Convincing

We were spending a much needed relaxing week in our favorite vacation spot, Grand Rapids, Minnesota. It was dinner time so we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant, mainly because we all felt too tired to go anywhere else. The waitress came and took our order. I was looking forward to their famous popovers they serve as their appetizer.

Maybe I’m Having a Stroke

While waiting, I noticed I was feeling a little short of breath. I told myself it was just because I was a little anxious and I tried to convince myself to relax. My back was aching, which didn’t surprise me since I had been sleeping on a pull-out sofa in the hotel room. The mattress was so old that it felt like laying on metal bars. The ache in my back was moving to my right shoulder and then slowly down my arm. As I was trying to join in on the conversation, I kept getting interrupted by the obsessive thoughts in my head. I was asking myself “Why would my arm be aching?”, “Is it my heart?”,  “Am I having a heart attack?”, “Maybe I’m having a stroke because it just feels funny on one side of my body”. At that time, I felt my heart palpitate. Now I knew something bad was going on and panic set in.

I Got Up and Went in the Restroom

As I was panicking inside, I looked at my mom. She was laughing and having fun with the rest of the family. I decided to take a xanax in case it was only my anxiety making me feel this way. Finally the popovers came. I raised my right arm to grab the bread out of the basket. My arm felt funny as I reached over to grasp the popover. It even felt hard to grasp it. My daughter was asking me to put butter and jam on hers. I was trying to contemplate if I was going to speak up and tell everyone that I thought I was having a stroke. Instead, I told my daughter to have her brother help her. I sat there for a minute and I was moving my fingers around to make sure I could still use them.Since I had no problems doing that, I decided to butter my popover. As I picked up my knife, it felt very peculiar. The knife felt extra heavy. At that point, I looked at my mom and said “Can you come with me please?”. I got up and went in the restroom.

Crying Took a Huge Amount of Weight Off

Mom knows my history of anxiety and panic disorder. I started bawling and told her I was super nervous and was either having a panic attack or a stroke. I told her I might have to go to the ER. She looked at me and said I was fine and that it was just my anxiety. My mom also has anxiety so I trusted her. Crying took a huge amount of weight off of my back and it was starting to feel better. I told her to go back and I would be out in a minute.  I asked her to tell the rest of the family not to ask me about why I left.’

I Was Fine the Rest Of the Evening

Crying and the xanax was making me feel more normal and I believed my mom when she told me I was not having a stroke. I took one more xanax to knock the remaining anxiety out. I went back, ate my dinner, and was fine the rest of the evening.

I Thanked God I Was Okay

After dinner we all went fishing off the dock in town. The water was so still and it was very peaceful. I was able to enjoy the scenery and I thanked God I was okay.

Grand Rapids, MN

I Am Still Vulnerable

That was just a reminder that I am still vulnerable. I have not been “cured” of my mental illness and my medication does not heal me 100%. That panic attack proved to me that talking openly about mental illness and trying to help others with similar experiences is what I am meant to do. When I need help, I look for people who are empathetic to my situation. Some people are not as fortunate as me to have a support person that understands exactly how I feel.

I Want to Help You

I strongly believe in “pay it forward” and that is what I am doing. I want to help you. If you have questions about symptoms, techniques to get through stressful situations, or just need to talk to someone who truly understands, CONTACT ME!

– Michelle

 

 

Quit Being Ashamed of your Mental Illness

Why are so many people ashamed to admit they have a mental illness?

They are ashamed to admit it because mental illnesses have such a negative stigma.

It is 2017, yet society still can’t accept that having a mental illness doesn’t mean you’re crazy.

Educate yourself people! Think of it this way, there are two individuals standing in front of you. Melissa is in her forties.  She is 5’6″ tall and weighs 165 pounds.  Angie just graduated from college.  She is 5’5″ and 150 pounds.  Both women are attractive and appear to be healthy. Melissa and Angie have both been diagnosed with an illness.

Both women were admitted into the hospital when they were first diagnosed with their illness. Their stays were very similar.  Melissa and Angie both went through a series of tests, they were educated on their illness, & given medication.  Follow up appointments were scheduled and they were sent home.

The illnesses these women were fighting were due to an organ in their body that was not functioning properly.  One organ was the pancreas and the other organ was the brain.  Melissa’s diagnosis was diabetes.  She went home and talked to her family about her illness.  Melissa explained what she needed from them and what her treatment would be.  She asked them for help and support.  Angie’s diagnosis was bi-polar disorder. She was devastated.  Angie kept her illness hidden from her family and friends.  She didn’t get the love and support she needed because she was too ashamed to tell anyone.  Angie felt so alone and her illness worsened.

Angie’s family would get irritated with her because she could be very moody.  She finally opened up to them and told them that she was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and that it is a mental illness.  Sadly, they were skeptical about her diagnosis and told her that she shouldn’t take medication for that.  Angie was told that she just needed to relax more and to quit being so uptight.  “You just need to keep busy and toughen up a little”, they said to her.

Does this story irritate you as much as it does me? Can you imagine Melissa’s parents saying she didn’t need insulin and she needs to toughen up? Of course they wouldn’t say that. Melissa has an illness that is accepted in society.  People know that Melissa can’t help it and diabetes is something people are educated on. There is no difference in Angie’s diagnosis..  Angie cannot help it that her brain is not functioning at 100%. She is told to just keep busy and maybe it will go away.

Nothing will change unless more people are educated on mental illnesses.  Having anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder or any other mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.  I’m on a journey to raise awareness to mental health and to help change the negative stigma associated with mental illness.

Do your part.  Educate yourself, and always treat mental illness the same as any other illness.  God Bless.

 

 

Side Effects of Antidepressant/Anxiety Medications

There may come a time when you are faced with making a decision on whether or not to start taking antidepressants, or anti-anxiety medications. I will share some of my experiences to help you become more informed of some possible side effects and things you should consider before making your final decision.  Side effects should always be discussed with your doctor, however, it is nice to have someone else’s view that has actually experienced some of these unpleasant side effects.

Almost 18 years ago, after the birth of my third son, I experienced an episode of extreme anxiety.  This definitely wasn’t my first experience with anxiety, but it was severe enough for me to see the doctor. This was the first doctor visit where the topic of medication was brought up. I didn’t know anything about it, besides it would help control my anxiety and depression. I was so excited to start taking it! We did not discuss any side effects of the medication I was put on.  I believe it was Paxil.

The medication took about a month for me to notice that it was helping. I gradually had less anxiety attacks, and stopped obsessing over things I couldn’t control.  Side effects for me at that time were tremors, dry mouth, and decreased sex drive. I started feeling great, so after approximately 3 months, I decided I didn’t need it anymore so I stopped taking it.  I was young and uninformed and didn’t know this was a “no no”.

We had a wedding to go to a week later that was a six hour drive.  I had been feeling very ill and contemplated whether I would be able to go or not. I was getting so dizzy,  and couldn’t hardly get out of bed. This was making me worry and my anxiety was  beginning to return. I ended up going to an immediate care medical center and described my symptoms.  The doctor said I had an inner ear infection and gave me an antibiotic and a medication to help with the dizziness.

I was on my second day of medication and there were no changes with my symptoms. If anything, they had gotten worse. I decided I would still go out of town with my husband.  I was miserable the whole time. I was getting more nervous and thinking something horrible must be wrong with me.

One evening, days later, I was looking up my symptoms online. I ran across an article talking about side effects of stopping these medications and they were exactly what I had been going through. I was relieved and angry at the same time. Why wouldn’t my doctor discuss this with me? Why did the doctor diagnose me with an inner ear infection when he probably could have figured it out if he would have asked me questions about medications I was on, or had recently been on?  Keep in mind, this was almost 18 years ago and doctors were not as familiar with these types of drugs as they are now.

I learned a very important lesson during that time. When my doctor suggests a medication, I ALWAYS ask questions.  Most importantly, make sure to ask about the side effects of a new medication and read as much as you can about it.

Make sure to subscribe to my blog if this article interests you. I will be writing more about side effects of antidepressants and look forward to hearing some of your stories.

 

 

 

Defensive About Mental Illness?

I understand it can be difficult at times to be close to someone who suffers from anxiety, depression, panic disorder or any other mental illness. Speaking from experience, it is more difficult to actually suffer from one or more of these illnesses. On top of that, try to imagine living in a world where mental illness has such a negative stigma.

I have an excellent doctor who once told me to not be ashamed of my diagnosis and that it is so common these days. He explained that he treats it no different than any other illness. Of course that made me feel better, however, my “anxiety mind” wouldn’t quit thinking about this topic. If it is so common, why don’t people openly discuss it? Why are people embarrassed to tell people they have a mental illness? I know people that have type 1 diabetes, and I have the utmost respect for them and what they go through, so I am not trying to put them or their illness down in any way. I just often compare diabetes to mental illness because they are both so common and can be hard to cope with on a daily basis. In many cases, if you have diabetes, you are not ashamed to tell people that you have it. You most likely inherited the illness. I can tell you that I inherited my illness as well.

How can we change this? I think we need to start talking openly to others about our illness and STOP feeling ashamed! What are your thoughts?

Anxiety and Panic Attack Symptoms

I’m sure all of you anxiety and panic attack sufferers out there will know what I am talking about when I say that I have done a lot of searching on the internet to find other men and women that have experienced similar symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks as me.  Not that we (anxiety & panic sufferers) would wish any of these unpleasant symptoms on anyone, but it just gives us assurance that we are not alone, and there are people out there who actually could relate to us.  There have been times when I will have a new symptom pop up and I start worrying about it compulsively.  Even before I call the doctor, I am on the internet trying to find something to prove to me that it is just my anxiety and nothing horrible is wrong with me. Continue reading