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Exactly three weeks ago, I had my first panic attack out of the blue. It was really bad and I had no idea what was going on, so I had myself driven to the E.R. thinking it was something like a heart attack. They checked me out and everything came back perfect.

For the first week following the attack, I felt anxious about half the day, but I read the Linden Method and listened to the CDs and calmed down. I know anxiety and panic can't harm me - I'm not scared of it hurting me anymore. At least not consciously. It's an annoyance more than anything else now.

The second week was the best week yet. I only had a couple of occasional moments of anxiety.

This third week started okay, but over the course of the last two or three days, I've become hyper-aware of my own breathing. I know my body can breathe on its own, but somehow I get fixated on my breathing, and then because I'm fixated on it I manually take control of it. I don't do a good job when I'm behind the wheel of my own breathing.

After maybe 10-15 minutes of manual breathing, I start to get some mild anxiety as well as some discomfort and mild dizziness. I don't worry about suffocating or anything, but I feel annoyed. I really don't want to think about my breathing. It just happens.

When I become really engrossed in something, like a movie or video game or conversation, I feel fine. But as soon as I'm not fully involved in an activity that takes up most of my concentration, I start thinking about my breathing again.

This is really the only symptom of anxiety I have left to conquer. I've tried a few things, like holding my breath so I can see that my body automatically takes a breath on its own, but that hasn't helped. It's at its worst at night when I'm trying to fall asleep - I usually just toss and turn until I fall asleep of exhaustion an hour later.

I'm worried that if this continues, it can lead back to anxiety like the kind I felt that first week after my E.R. visit. Yesterday was the first time that this annoying breathing fixation led to a moment of high anxiety - I went out for a walk, went up a flight of stairs, and was short of breath. I was absolutely fixated on every breath I took, and I felt this sickening "rising" action that I feel when I'm entering a state of high anxiety - like there's a balloon in my chest that just shot straight up into the sky.

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