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In retrospect, I had my very first panic attack when I was 8 years old but of course I didn't know what it was. I was getting ready for bed when out of the blue I started shaking uncontrollably. I felt really nauseous. I thought I was going to throw up but I couldn't move from the bed. My sister came into the room and saw me like that but other than asking what was wrong, didn't do anything. I told her I felt really really sick. My father who was drunk as usual could obviously hear what was going on because I remember him yelling from another room that it must have been the ice cream I ate after dinner that was making me shake because it was winter and ice cream should only be eating in the summer.:rolleyes: But he didn't come in to see what was wrong. Not that I expected him to. His life consisted of drinking and doing his 8 hours at work - that's it. He was there physically but that's where it ended as far as him being a father to me. I would have been better off growing up without a father, although, I guess that's exactly how I grew up, isn't it? But I digress .......

Eventually the shaking subsided, as did the nausea. It was never talked about again. I was not taken to a doctor. Nothing. My mother didn't come in to see if I was okay when she got home from work at midnight. I eventually fell asleep and forgot about the whole incident until .......

I was 21. It was 2 months before my wedding and I was so happy that finally I was going to get out of The House of Horrors and away from the two dictators and I would start a new life with the man I loved and I would actually be able to, for the first time in my life, do the normal things that people do and go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted and not get yelled at, hit or terrorized any longer - I would be freeeeeee!:angel: It felt as if I had served my 20+ year prison sentence and I was getting parolled in 8 weeks time. Freedom was so close I could almost taste it, and then .......

Out of the blue I start feeling violently ill. I go from feeling perfectly fine to all at once I'm nauseous, dizzy, I have trouble breathing, I'm shaking, I'm really hot, sweaty, my hands feel like pins and needles are in them, my ears feel like they're full of water, my heart is racing/pounding, my bowels are liquifying - OH MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! I dry heave. Okay this is it, I'm going to throw up and I'll feel better and everything will be okay. I must have the flu or something. I dry heave again. Nothing comes up. I heave again. And again and again and again and again and again and again and nothing comes up. PLEASE GOD. MAKE IT STOP! Eventually it does, everything stops except the nausea. I'm exhausted and my stomach is still upset but that's okay. It's probably a 24 hour flu or something. I'll be fine tomorrow.

Tomorrow comes and I'm not fine. It happens again. That's okay, it's the flu and I'll be better in a couple of days or a week at most. A week passes and I'm not better. I'm having these "attacks" - whatever they are - every day. I'm nauseous 24/7. Everything in the world suddenly smells awful. My stomach hurts all the time. The smell of food makes me gag. I can't eat. I'm losing weight. I can't go to work. I can't stand anybody being close to me because that makes everything worse. I go to the doctor. The doctor tells me I was right, it's the flu. I get a doctor's note and I tell my boss that I don't know how long I'll be away but the doctor says it's the flu so it can't be much longer and I'm really sorry for leaving you high and dry, I know nobody else is there to do my job and I'll be in as soon as I can, you have my word, after all I haven't missed a single day in the year I've been there and I've come in sick so you know how sick I have to be for me to take even a day off....... I stay home and wait for what feels like the flu from hell to run its course. I'll be fine. I distract myself by thinking about my upcoming nuptuals, and I smile. :D

It's the night before my wedding and in two months I've lost 30 pounds, my job, and the ability to (easily) leave the house (of horrors) . My wedding dress has been altered 3 times and the woman at the bridal boutique jokingly said that I better stop losing weight otherwise there would be nothing left of the dress. Ha. Ha. By now I was on a steady diet of little more than anti-nausea medication, valium (the doctor said I seemed nervous - must be the wedding jitters dear so take these for now) and lemons. I discovered that if I sucked on a lemon or just sniffed one, it blocked out the nauseating smell that everything and everyone in my world had suddenly taken on. Even nice smells - perfume, fabric softener, soap, flowers, shampoo - made me gag. Taking a shower was hell. I became the queen of hunting for everything "scent-free" and even that smelled!

I spent the next 6 months going from doctor to doctor. When one was finished with me, not having found anything wrong, s/he would refer me to someone else and we'd go through the whole rigamarole again: I would explain my symptoms, I would undergo a whole whack of tests, everything would come back fine. Apparently I was the sickest-healthiest person in the world! Surely I was dying of some new disease that would be discovered upon my death.

Eventually I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder which started my "adventure with medication". I was put on every anti-anxiety/depression medication out there. While meds work wonders for many people, they did nothing for me. In fact, most of them made the anxiety considerably worse, so much so that in comparison, the full-blown panic attacks were a piece of cake!

The only time I have been 100% panic-free was while I was pregnant. I thought I was cured. After the birth of my daughter, it all came back.

Anyway... 22 years later I'm still struggling with this disorder from hell, and although I am no longer housebound and I do work, every day in almost every way, everything is a struggle. Life shouldn't be this hard. :nono:





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