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Hello All,
I am a 28year old male, 5í11. 182lbs.
This is my first post on a forum like this before. i have always liked reading forums as i find them useful and aiding in the self-diagnosis of my problems.
I would say that the thing that worries me the most currently is my breathing. i have the feeling that i cannot catch my breath. i have had this for twelve months since January 2012.

At the time of the onset of this breathing problem i also experienced excessive sleeping. I have seen my doctor on and off since this has started. My doctors have said that i have stress and anxiety and panic attacks. I guess my breathing can't catch my breath is the panic attacks. The last time i went to see my doctor i gave him a list of my symptoms; which at the time were: don't see the point in anything, apathetic, lost interest in things i used to enjoy, excessive sleeping 12 hours a night, etc. My doctor said that this sounds like depression and he prescribed me Citalopram. I have been on Citalopram for about 7 weeks and i feel much better; to be honest the depression has pretty much gone - i felt better by about the fourth week on this medication. The medication is supposed to address the symptoms of panic anxiety attacks as well, but i cannot say that it has really alleviated it to be honest. it comes and goes but is always there.

This all started in January 2012 - i went on a two week holiday in Gran Canaria, in the last two weeks of the month. Towards the end of the holiday i remember going out with some friends i had met on a boat trip earlier that day. I had been drinking a lot of alcohol on the holiday: red wine, cocktails, beer, liquors. And i was smoking about a twenty pack of cigarettes a day - the gran canarian cigarettes were strong tasting, i remember i didn't like any of the brands on sale at the resort.

The thing that i haven't been able to get out of my mind since that holiday is a party trick that i participated in one night. i was with a group of friends in a nightclub and the trick involved drinking alcohol on fire. At the time I said thereís no way Iím doing that trick, I said to myself itís dangerous; but then I thought, oh well, it canít do me any harm, Iím fearless, I had the ĎI can do anything attitudeí. The way i was shown how to do the trick didn't simply involve drinking straight from a shot glass. the trick involved pouring alcohol into your mouth and then lighting it which produced a blue flame, then the flame with be swallowed and coke-a-cola would used to swill it down. i remember i did this twice in one night with someone else who was doing the trick with me. i didn't see it as harmful at the time, because i'd been drinking a lot and i was being brave in front of people. the first time i did it it didn't bother me too much. the second time i did it, i held the flame longer in my mouth and i felt it burning so i quickly swallowed it and flushed it down with coke. i felt pretty fine after and continued drinking, dancing, partying and having fun into the night. i never felt any pain or discomfort. i went to sleep as usual after the clubs closed at about 6am.

i woke up at my usual time of about 2 or 3pm. When i woke up i did feel pretty awful and i remember i was just heaving and coughing. i actually had to stop myself from coughing because it felt so bad.
Other than those feelings I didnít feel too bad in any other way and didnít experience any pain or illness. However over the following days and nights my mind started racing that I may have caused myself some damage. I remember walking along the streets and seeing cigarette packages and surgeons operating on peoples insides. I thought then of my lifestyle and my smoking and drinking. I would also eat excessively and drink heavily which regularly caused me excessive bloat. I remember for the following two nights after my main evening meal I would tried to swallow two health tablets and as soon as I had done, It felt as if I hadnít swallowed them properly, as if they were stuck somewhere, I remember all my efforts didnít rectify or making this feeling any better. Then during that night whilst I was out my temperature started to rise and I was sweating excessively, I remember feeling the need to cough up the tablets I had recently swallowed, I had problems doing this but I think I managed to cough up some traces of the tablets, I remember feeling better after that.
I remember that when I was out on the night time I felt so unwell that I wanted to go back to my hotel room. I did and I remember the night sleeping I was in a panic, I would keep getting hot and then be sweating and then go cold. I remember being paranoid about the feeling of having something stuck in my throat.
My holiday was coming close to an end and I had already extended my visit for an extra week days previously. I planned to visit another part of the island and stay there in accommodation and then flight back. The accommodation and flights were all booked. However, I remember feeling so bad on the day that I was due to move to my new accommodation, that I decided to fly back on my original flight. I felt like I was dying. I had no energy and was lethargic. On the four hour flight back I slept through the whole trip. When I got back to England I went straight to the hospital A&E Ė I was complaining that I could barely breathe. I looked weak and exhausted. The doctor said my tests come back fine, blood pressure, finger pulse monitor and the doctor took a blood test from an artery (something to do with higher oxygenated blood I think). The doctor concluded that I wasnít short of breath. He said that I was taking breaths that were either too big or too small and I needed to take a breath somewhere between the two.
For the following 7-14 days I was sleeping for 16 hours and awake for 8 hours in a 24 hour period. I rarely ever saw the daylight.
For the following 5 months after that I remember telling one of my university friends that I was always heaving (And that reminds me of the way I was heaving the night I drank the alcohol on fire). From January to August I hadnít changed my drinking or smoking habits very much and continued to do that normally, but was still experiencing the heaving, at some points it just felt like I was gagging or activating the muscles of the gag reflex. During July-August I realised that I need to change my habits as I was drinking daily and smoking quite continuously.

My breathing problem hasnít stopped, I still constantly feel like I canít catch my breath. I feel my breathing is laboured and maybe this wears me out and thatís why Iím so tired. I have a lot of chest-tightness. I generally feel fine in all other respects (donít get colds or flu very much).
I cannot say though that I put this completely down to the drinking the alcohol on fire trick, even though I imagine this has added to my stress and panic. The holiday was meant to be a break for me. I was in the final year of university and my mother had been diagnosed with cancer. All this had been on my mind. I remember being very upset by the end of the holiday, I felt unwell.
In January I went to see my University doctor I told the doctor what happened. The doctors didnít seemed to be concerned about the alcohol on fire that I drank Ė they said it burns at a low temperature and probably went out pretty quickly. I told my doctor about how I had been feeling. My momís condition was getting worse. After that I was having: nightmares, hypersomnia 12-16 hours sleep, no appetite, feeling like Iím choking and the terrible feeling that I canít catch my breath. My whole chest lifts up to fill and stops because it wonít fill up anymore and the breath donít feel satisfactory.
I have done anxiety breathing exercises and relaxation techniques like there is online. Thereís one that says ĎCanít catch your breathí Ė itís because you forgot to exhale. You need to do belly breathing. The thing is my breathing just feels terrible and so much effort.
I have had a lot of stress the last twelve months, finishing my degree was very difficult and there was an enormous amount of workload. I think my moms condition and all the other stress and anxieties in my life has maybe had an effect on my subconscious mind. I find it unlikely that something external would affect me internally though and itís so annoying because I feel powerless over my breathing panic attacks.
I had a chest-Xray come back all clear. I had a wheezy chest and the doctor has put me on blue and brown inhalors for supposed asthma. I did used to have asthma as a child but I believe I grew out of it. The last time I took inhalors was about 14 years ago. I have always been physically fit, running, swimming etc. I have been prone to chest infections in my life. Since stopping smoking for the last 4 months I have noticed I donít have the problem of excess mucus production. I believe my ability to hold my breath is considerably reduced Ė I remember swimming this summer and when underwater swimming I couldnít hold my breath for very long.
I am waiting for some blood tests coming back. I feel tired and I donít have much energy. Although I am on varied diet now of proteins, fruits, veg, vits, mins, and carbs. I also exercise regularly.
My sleeping doesnít make much sense to me. I regularly sleep 12 hours a day, on average 10 hours, sometimes 9hours. Not usually less than that. And I usually go to bed in the early hours of the morning about 2am or 4am, sometimes I got to bed at midnight. It doesnít seem to make that much difference because I always wake up at around 1:30-2pm. I have tried setting my alarm clock but I canít seem to get up any earlier than I do because I am utterly exhausted and in a completely deep sleep mode.
My mind canít seem to rest. Apart from my breathing, oversleeping and fatigue (low energy), I feel fine. I know the anti-depressants also make you tired and lethargic but I was sleeping twelve hours a day before I started them and that was in June, July, August time (I was sleeping all around the clock then, sometimes 6am Ė 6pm). I have regularly always slept through the day and Iím awake at night. Itís hard for me to naturally fall into any other pattern.
I currently live with my mom and sheís still terminally ill but sheís getting by and sheís lived a year since she was diagnosed. I have been living with her for the last 4 months whilst trying to decide about moving on with my life and getting a career or continuing further study. The trouble is that all the circumstances in my life have left me feeling the way I do now. I stopped drinking alcohol and smoking in Aug-Sep 2012 and as I result I feel much better, fitter and healthier. However, the panic breathing attacks are still with me and they are different everyday, sometimes terrible and other times I just know itís there because I can feel the tightness in that area.
I know Iíve shared a lot, but this is all thatís on my mind and I wanted to share it, because although I read many forums, I donít read many like my story.
I look forward to reading anyoneís shares and responses. Letís hope we can help each other solve our problems.

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