I’m 25 years-old In August, 2006, I experienced what my family doctor believes to have been my first panic attack. I was seated at my desk in a college educational psychology class and I remember feeling very spacey, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I was shaking and sweating despite the fact I was cold. I noticed visual and auditory changes and I felt like I could faint at any given moment. The “attack” lasted the duration of the class. I recall telling my professor I didn’t feel well and he walked me to the elevator. I thought I would feel better outside, but the attack kept going. I felt the same way while driving home and that night I kept having racing thoughts.
The following morning, I got out of bed and immediately fell to the floor. The room was spinning as I tried to sit-up. I called my mom and told her there as something wrong with me. She told me to try to get the day in, but as soon as I drove to work I experienced another attack and one of my co-workers had to drive me to my grandmother’s house. I didn’t want to be alone. When I got there, I fell asleep on the couch and slept a good 8 hours. I awoke feeling like I hadn’t slept at all.
The next day, I made an appointment with my family doctor who told me I had a panic attack, put me on Lexapro, and referred me to a therapist. I stayed on the Lexapro for two weeks, but it made me feel so weird. I had no running dialog in my head, I wasn’t talkative, I’d get warm sensations all over my body and all I wanted to do was sleep. I told the therapist I was always exhausted and she said it sounded like I had severe depression. My medication was immediately changed from Lexapro to generic Prozac. I just kept feeling worse and worse. I would cry to my mom to make this stop. I kept telling her something was seriously wrong. I kept going to my doctor and she told me to relax, the anxiety was playing tricks on me. I kept seeing the therapist, but after six weeks of therapy and different medications, I wasn’t getting any better. My family doctor said I might need a mood stabilizer. I was taken of the generic prozac and was given effexor, ativan and trazadone. I slept two days straight. My symptoms continued to get worse, I lost eight pounds since the day of my initial “attack” I had migraine headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, muscle aches, brain fog, sore throat, dizziness. My doctor said there was nothing more she could do for me. I was not happy. I finally went back to the doctor and demanded to have blood work done. She rolled her eyes saying I needed to accept my diagnosis – Panic Disorder. I told her I never had blood work drawn and I wanted to make sure this wasn’t something physical. The blood work was drawn and I was told I tested positive for Epstein-Barr. I was taken off all the medication and told to report to the hospital because I was dehydrated.
I don’t remember much of my illness because I was hospitalized and spent a majority of my time sleeping. I missed a lot of days of work and eventually had to withdraw from college. Three weeks late,r I was back at my therapy session and when the therapist asked how I was feeling I told her I was tired. When the lethargy refused to go away, I was back on medication – celexa for depression. I kept asking, “can’t this be the Mono making me tired?” The therapist noted that depression runs in my family and said it was more likely that I was suffering from depression. Yet, my pharmacist said Mononucleosis can last 6 months or more.
When every anti-depressant medication I tried failed to produce any good results I was referred to a psychiatrist. She listened to my story and asked what stressors I had in my life leading up to the attack. I told her I was in an abusive relationship and I involved in a car accident which wasn’t my fault, but the other driver wasn’t insured. She said these stressors possibly caused Post Traumatic Stress. I was given another medication – remeron which as my mom says, “turned me into a psychotic cross between Judy Garland and Judy Blair. I was having wild mood screams, one moment I was tearful and the next I was screaming at the top of my lungs and hitting myself on my legs. I told the psychiatrist I was taking myself off the medication and she said she refused to see me anymore because I am doing harm to myself. I want to point out I was never weaned off any of these medications (lexapro, fluoxetine, ativan, xanax, trazadone, celexa, effexor, remeron) I tried all of them for a few weeks, suffered horrible side-effects and was switched to something else. This all happened in a period of six months. My co-workers said I seemed like a shell of myself. Other people commented I seemed “exhausted,” “miserable,” “moody” and “not like myself.”
Here it seven months later and I finally had more blood work done to test for Lyme Disease. Why didn’t the doctor test me for Lyme before throwing all of these medications at me? I feel like the medications have messed me up! I even asked a doctor “if I don’t have a chemical inbalance what what will happen to me when I take these drugs. Her response: “you’ll only feel the side effects.” That’s ALL I am feeling. Still, my psychiatrist tells me I haven’t found the ‘right” drug. Another therapist said to me, “maybe you didn’t have a panic attack.” Now is a good time to tell me. I’m now addicted to the Ativan and trazadone, I can’t sleep without them and I get irritable when I try to lower my dose. I can’t function properly, I used to be so patient and empathetic and now I seem to have a really short fuse. Another doctor said I could have Asthma. I’m going for a chest x-ray and bronchial challenge tomorrow. Another doctor said it could be fibromaygia. As a child I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and I was susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. These symptoms always seemed to show up whenever I had to deal with a particularly stressful situation. I missed a month of kindergarten because I ended up with a mysterious “bathroom problem.” I kept urinating every ten minutes. It was written off as stress. During the past few years, I have experienced neck and shoulder pain, chest tightness, chronic headaches, urinary tract infections, sinus infections, muscle pain, coughing, sensitivity to light, dizziness, bruising, pins and needles sensation in my hands, feet and even in my lips! I was also exposed to Epstein-Barr at some point. Maybe I have anxiety from not knowing what the heck is wrong with me! My family doctor doesn’t even want to deal with me anymore. She acts like I am a hypocondriate because I told her a close friend of the family who is a neurology professor told me it sounds like I have oxygen depravation. I’m having trouble projecting my voice (I’m a teacher), and find myself being short of breath while I am teaching. I also sigh a lot and wake up chocking in the middle of the night. I still get the racing thoughts at times, but I haven’t had anymore “attacks” like the one I experienced back in college. Can anyone help me? I know something isn’t right and I want so desperately to find out what I have and how to treat it so I can get my life back. I used to be confident, funny, creative, self-motivated and energetic. I used to enjoy Yoga, dancing (ballet) running in 5 K races, reading, shopping, photography, scrapbooking, visiting friends, etc. Now I don’t like doing any of these things because I either don’t have the attention span or they wear me out physically. I notice my personality has really changed too. I used to be so creative and I had a sharp mind and quick wit. I should also mention I am having a lot of memory problems (which has lowered my self-confidence) I forget to hand out papers, can’t follow conversations and I’m easily confused.
If anyone can give me any answers I'd be most appreciate. Thank you for reading my post and good luck to all of you.