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Hello everyone,

I've posted here in the past, but lately I feel like I'm struggling with my health anxiety and depression more than usual, so I'm looking for some support and encouragement.

If you want to read about my previous history, tests, symptoms, etc., here's that post:

The long and short of it is that, since January of this year, I've gone though a number of bizarre symptoms (most of which many of you are probably familiar with) and I've had several tests (which all came back normal, or course). I'm a 23-year-old male who moved to New York City immediately after graduating college and left his family and girlfriend behind. I'm back home in the Midwest now (with family and girlfriend, too) but my symptoms haven't eased; on the contrary, it feels like they're worsening.

On a daily basis, I'm currently battling:
[*]Sensitivity to light and sound
[*]Pounding heart
[*]Shortness of breath, especially during exercise
[*]Feeling like I can't take a deep breath
[*]Chest pain/tightness/pressure all day (<-- this is the worst one)
[*]Sternum cracking/popping when stretching or breathing deep
[*]Back pain and tension
[*]Constant sighing and yawing
[*]Frequent belching
[*]General malaise
And occasionally, I'll also get:
[*]Head/body feeling hot
[*]Tingling in arms
[*]Throat tightness
[*]Stabbing pain in the rib region (left side)
I've been prescribed Lexapro and so far have resisted taking it, but I'm getting close to giving in. I'm doing CBT every other week, yoga twice a week, seeing a chiropractor once a week, and reading a million books.

My latest theory is that Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome is causing most of my symptoms, so I'm trying to practice Buteyko breathing...but so far, it's been unsuccessful. I've read Dinah Bradley's book and I'm in the middle of Patrick McKeown's, but every day I feel like giving up. Both books describe my symptoms perfectly, but I can't seem to get their methods to work for me. I'm so impatient.

I'm taking fish oil and magnesium daily, and I just started PharmaGABA and an adrenal support supplement too, hoping "natural" methods will do the trick. So far, no luck.

Right now, the depression is growing heavy. I can't go anywhere or do anything for pleasure. Wherever I am, the hamster wheel of fear is constantly spinning. "Oh my God, what if I have _______?" Depending on the day, that blank could be filled with "a heart defect," "lung cancer," "a pulmonary embolism," and so on.

I haven't truly enjoyed a date with my girlfriend or an evening with my family in months, and they can tell. I was hoping to get engaged before Christmas, but I don't feel like I can't propose for fear that I won't actually enjoy the moment. I want to look back on that day and feel joy, not regret that I couldn't savor the experience. I can't even get excited about shopping for engagement rings. Yesterday I went to a football game with my girlfriend's family and barely smiled. I spent the whole game worrying about how I was feeling. I hate behaving like this, but I don't know any other way at the moment.

Last week I caved to my hypochondriac tendencies and scheduled an appointment with a chest specialist to get my chest pain and breathing trouble looked at again. Yeah, I know I've already had blood work and several EKGs, worn a 30-day heart monitor, done a treadmill stress test and a tilt table test, etc., but I haven't had a chest x-ray! Maybe there's something there! Ugh... I have that appointment in two weeks, so we'll see.

[B]So, I guess my question is: Who's been in my shoes before? Who has felt like giving up and resigning themselves to a life full of pain and unpleasant (and terrifying) symptoms? And, has anyone come through on the other side, healed? I need something to give me some hope. [/B]

Is lexapro the answer? Or part of the answer? Should I find a different therapist (I don't particularly like mine)? How can I turn my brain off and just relax? I don't even remember what it felt like not to carry this burden every day.

Thank you all for being here.


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