This is not new territory for this forum, but I thought I’d add my experience as a newbie to AF and anxiety.
I have never been an anxious person. I was in the British Army for 10 years, at times in charge of 100+ soldiers. I have spent over a year of my life in Iraq when conditions were less than friendly. I have jumped out of planes, paraglided off mountain tops, skied, abseiled off dams, scuba dived, run and cycled over mountains, and all sorts of other things. None of it ever bothered me.
Sure, I have always been a stickler for punctuality. I become agitated if I or others are running late to an event, but it has never been something I dwell on. I’ve always made an effort to tow-the-line when it came to school, university lectures or work – I never like to annoy or disappoint others. And I’ve always found watching pranks uncomfortable because I don’t enjoy watching other people suffer stress. So, yes, perhaps, I have always had a low level of anxiety within me, but it has never got in the way of my life.
In the last 2 months since discovering I have AF, everything has changed. I am now totally convinced that the majority of my symptoms are pure anxiety / panic. The weeks of worrying about having a stroke and dying (mostly unfounded) have sent my nervous system into ovedrive, and my subconscious has started to overwhelm my conscious. The sudden dizzy spells when in NSR, the tingling down the arms, the fogginess in the head, the adrenaline in my body when I go for a bike ride, the spells of paranoia after taking my Apixaban. It took me weeks to finally work out that it was psychological, and now I am getting close to full proof. On discussing my symptoms with my GP on Monday, I was put on 2mg of Diazepam (3 times a day). Within 1 hour of taking the first pill, having spent the previous weekend in a horrible place, I felt completely normal again. The fog lifted. The pins and needs stopped, as did the paranoia. I went back into AF on Monday night (and remain there as of Wednesday morning), but I feel totally fine about it.
Last night I was feeling so normal that I decided not to take the third Diazepam of the day. It is an addictive drug, and I don’t want to end up with yet another problem. On driving to work this morning, I felt the same fogginess in the head developing and anxiety building. Makes sense that the effects of the Diazepam have worn off since my last pill at 3pm yesterday.
So, now I need to look for others way to control this anxiety. The Diazepam is masking it, but I can see that it is still there. I know there are plenty of methods and techniques out there. I have already started meditation with the Headspace app. My employer has been very good to me and I will start counseling sessions next week. They have also said that I can take some sick leave or work from home if I feel I need to.
Whilst I wish that I didn’t have to deal with this problem, I am extremely happy to have discovered the issue fairly early on in my journey with AF. I hope within the next few weeks and months, I can get it all under control and start to live a normal(ish) life again.