Anxiety Support
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Would love some help

Hi all, I'm new to this and to blogging. I've struggled with anxiety for about 4 years now. I have tried cognitive behavioural therapy but never really stuck with it. I've been on medication which was really helpful but then I fell pregnant with my first child so I came off it. My first panic attack was about 4 years ago. I was sitting on the couch and my heart started to race - well over 120 beats per minute. My husband was away working at the time and I rang him, certain I was about to die and wanted to say goodbye and that I loved him. He told me to call an ambulance so I did and they came and took me to hospital. After an ECG, blood test and observation they told me I probably just had anxiety, which I was shocked to hear as I had never acknowledged any symptoms of anxiety. I didn't even know anything about it. I can't remember even feeling anxious before. So I started some medication and ever since then (and a couple of other incidents) I've always worried something is happening to me. I'm 25, not overweight and the only illness I have is asthma. I used to smoke but haven't for well over a year and I don't drink, as I am breastfeeding. My heart palpitations give me the most grief, even though logically, I know they are most likely harmless. I've had a 24 hr holter monitor but my heart did not palpitate whilst I was wearing it so it's never actually been observed by a doctor. My doctor told me he was confident nothing was wrong with my heart. I get palpitations everyday now. They had calmed a bit but they are coming back. I'm 5 months postpartum and more anxious than ever. I worry about people I love getting sick and dying. Every bodily symptom that I feel I think it's cancer or a heart attack. I get an adrenaline rush as soon as I feel any sensation, whether it be a palpitation, which feels as though my heart is skipping beats, or heart burn or pain in my shoulder. Rather than thinking- ok-I'm carrying a new baby around which has probably caused the shoulder pain, I go to the extreme; I'm having a heart attack, the doctors are all wrong, it's finally happening. I sit there stressing- should I call an ambulance? It's probably nothing but then I think what if it is and I miss my opportunity to get help and die? I don't want my husband to raise our son alone and I don't want my son to lose his mum. Not to mention in terrified of death. I am so tired of worrying as I remember what my life was like before anxiety, and I wish I could feel confident and healthy like I used to. Sorry for the life story but I'm hoping there is someone out there who understands. I want to be able to enjoy my son with my husband, not just put on a front all the time, pretending to feel normal when really, I can feel my old self drifting further and further away. I will be going back to the doctors this week to see if we can't get some control over my condition. I would like a heart ultrasound and proper testing so I can be assured once and for all that my heart is healthy. I will also start seeing my perinatal psychologist again and perhaps talk about some medications that are safe for breastfeeding. Would love to hear any similar stories that might help me to feel better xxxx thanks so much in advance!! Elise :-)

1 Reply

Hi Elise (love the name, makes me think of Beethoven's Fur Elise which is the first thing I learned to play on the piano!). Sorry not have replied before, I have only just seen your post as nowadays I don't come onto the site as often - which is a good sign as it means the people here have helped me to feel better than I did.

You say you had your first anxiety attack (panic attack) when your husband away and I wonder whether that was in any way connected - it may be that you were finding things difficult, or that you experienced separations earlier in your life which you found difficult and which have left you with memories which can be triggered by similar circumstances such as your husband's absence and having to cope alone. You say you have asthma which is an illness known to be associated with and made worse by anxiety, and I wonder how long you have had it for. The fact that you mention that you fear people you love with die suggests there is an association between your anxiety and loss and it may be you suffered loss at an early age, perhaps even as a baby, and I wonder whether you were separated from your mum at an early age, if so that can leave UNCONSCIOUS anxiety, you would not be aware of it but the asthma may be a way your body somatises the anxiety (shows and releases it). There may be an association now between your having a new baby and your own experiences when you were a new baby, do you know whether you had early difficulties which led to your being away from your mother? You say you are frightened when you have the panic attacks that you are dying and denying your son of his mother and it may be that you remember being deprived of your own mother for a time.

Rather than thinking the panic attacks and feeling that you may be dying are probably nothing it may help you to accept that at those times you MAY actually be dying - if you are able to come to terms with that as a possibility you may find your anxiety reduces and what you feel instead is sadness - about what you and your son (also your husband of course and any other children) are losing. That may sound crazy, but repeatedly having tests and finding nothing is wrong is not working and will only make you feel that nobody is understanding how you are feeling - at the moment when you are in a panic attack you ARE dying - not physically, but emotionally. You are sure you are dying and are not able to understand anything else. I think probably that was your experience early in your life when separation from the caretaker meant certain death and when you lacked the capacity to understand that you would go on living.

You can choose to go the meds route but in my opinion doing is likely to result in your having the identity of someone who needs meds for the rest of your life. If you are able to come to terms with things that happened to you in the past (perhaps not even consciously remembered but having left their trace in your asthma and anxiety) then I think you can overcome the anxiety attacks. You might ask your GP to refer you to the regional psychotherapy department where you could ask to be assessed for psychoanalytic psychotherapy, especially if you do know you were separated early in life, as that experience may be most helpful to you.



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