Hi all, first time poster here, here's my long story & would love to hear from anyone suffering similarly themselves and hope to help out along the way!
I had my first panic attack when I was about 20 (14 long years ago), lads holiday in Falaraki, bad hangover, long walk in the sun - suddenly became really restless like my heart was running at 100 miles an hour. Couldn't sit still, walking in circles for no reason, then my breathing became a problem - my instant diagnosis was that it felt like I had a collapsed lung (and convinced myself of this) drawn out trip to the hospital made it worse, pins and needles shot up my arm in the taxi, jaw locked and was in a really bad state when I finally got there. Was a drawn out process that happened over a few hours. I was drugged up by the docs, chest scans were fine and I went on my way...
I never really knew what had happened to me on that holiday - my Greek not being so good, I went to the docs when I got home (mainly because I also ended up with Gastroenteritis a few days after my attack, dodgy chinese serving raw duck - worst holiday ever!) was I spiked? Was it just a panic attack or something seriously wrong with me? I chose just to forget about it, and that worked.
Until this year. I've been working from home as a freelance graphic designer for the past 4 years, took some adjusting to but finally doing the job I wanted to do. Not sure if it was due to work but I had a few weeks of restlessness, not being able to sleep, getting (2-3 hours max) felt dizzy going out - then the same symptoms came back. The tight chest pain (left hand side) feeling dizzy, restless, breath all out of sync, felt like I was almost having to keep my heart beating manually. Crazy feeling that came in waves.
At its worst my gf took me to A&E in the early hours, after a 2-3 hour wait pacing about, I finally got to see a doctor, had an ECG and blood tests, all came back clear. It settled down after a couple of weeks, so decided to start trying to change a few things in my lifestyle - so I started the NHS Couch25K running, all went great - got to week 6, and then a disaster run, half way my breathing went out of wack - dizzy, tight chest again (didnt feel fitness related - my run the previous week had been fine and had been tougher) and it felt like the start of another panic attack. Gave it a rest for a few days, tried again and the same thing happened.
My girlfriend called 999 after it got worse, (couldn't face another 3 hour wait in a&e) and when the paramedics arrived they were absolutely brilliant. As soon as they walked in, they knew it was a panic attack, I knew it was one - but having someone there to confirm it helped me get it back under control. I had gotten to the point where pins and needles were rendering my arm numb, and as scary as it was - I turned myself around.
Later that day I went back to the docs, the panic attack was acknowledged but they still seem to think the root cause was acid reflux, and was prescribed with lansoprazole. I've since stopped running, because it's occured every time since, and even just walking for a mile or two now seems to bring it on (which is more than annoying when only a year ago I was hiking for 15 miles+ every weekend). It's hard to know how much of it is acid, what is anxiety. Lansoprazole hasn't been a wonder cure, it's still a daily occurrence, its almost like trapped air in my chest, which burping can relieve for a short time, or sometimes a gurgle in my chest will help clear it, also often now wake up with a really really dry mouth, despite drinking a lot of water before and during the night.
I went back to my GP a few weeks ago after starting to believe more of this could be anxiety related than acid reflux. I had started getting tension headaches like my head was being compressed/ears blocked, we had a good chat - checked my ears (were blocked, now syringed) completed an anxiety questionnaire on the PC with questions that I thought were above and beyond what I was experiencing (suicidal thoughts, feelings of worthlessness etc) so again it was put down to Acid, and with an acknowledgement that they are linked - was given more lansoprazole.
First question I'm always asked "what are you anxious about?" and apart from anxiety itself nothing that I know of! I think I've always been very laid back, and its only the symptoms really that make me anxious, so it's a viscous circle of a battle that I'm very slowly getting to grips with!
I'm really wanting to get running again, but it seems a long target away when just a walk is a challenge, so have been trying to change a few things in my lifestyle.
1. Drink - rarely drink at all now anyway, (a night out once every few months probably) but a hangover has always brought back the symptoms...
2. Diet - I've been struggling with this more, smaller portions seem to help - little and often - have almost completely cut out coffee - but once I've had a few good days I slip up and it reoccurs..
3. Sleep - again struggling, I live in an apartment - kids both above and below us, so have got into the bad habit of going to sleep listening to podcasts or audio books. Not sure if this is giving me the most restful sleep. Have bought a wedge pillow to try and stop the acid rising.
4. Exercise - trying to at least go for a mile walk a day atm, but its not enough. Been doing weights daily as well to try and kill the restlessness.
5. Vaping - Havent smoked for 6 years now, but still do use an ecig - so trying to cut that down as well.
So that's where I'm at, if you've read this far - many thanks for hearing me out! I'll always welcome any advice or suggestions, and really want to try and put this to sleep again for at least another 14 years!
It's slow progress, I'm sure insignificant to what a lot of people face daily, but it's a challenge I am battling head on - and aim to come out stronger at the end of it!