My week – covid19 and panic attacks

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    • #347345
      David the Gnome
      • Total Posts: 3,147

      My family has a timeshare in Southwest Harbor every other year – normally I go.  This year it was a damn tough decision to make.  I hesitated, I debated, I argued with myself for weeks about whether or not I should go.  Ultimately I decided to – my fiance and I had been planning on it for two years, she had gotten the week off – and it would be another year before she would have another.  We wore our masks if we went anywhere.  Got up very early to go to the beach (it was pretty empty in the 6-9 AM hours on the week days) and made sure that, if we couldn’t keep our distance anymore, we ate all of our meals inside (dinner usually with the family) and, no doubt in the back of everyone’s mind was the nagging fear “What if I get it?  What if someone has it?  What if I give it to someone else?”  Vacationing with the pandemic… – hey, no one invited that fucker.

      Overall, things were more or less okay, I got to reconnect a little bit with my family, but it was… different.  Keeping a distance from those you love, even when sitting in the same room, is a strange experience for those who have never had to do so before.

      I’m surprised with myself that I made the drive all the way there and back with no real issues beyond some minor nervousness in traffic.  For lots of people, a five hour drive is no big deal, for me, its almost like climbing Mount Everest.  I’m glad I got to see the ocean – and in spite of people telling me I was crazy, I rushed in to the freezing water over and over again – I’m from Northern Maine, cold is what we do.

      Getting back home… I spent a few days reading, then, about a week ago, my fiance told me I felt warm, took my temp – and it was higher than normal for me.  I had some minor cold-like symptoms (also could be allergies – post nasal drip, headache, etc.) and it was all over the news that there had been a bunch of covid19 cases discovered in Bar Harbor – from people visiting from out of state.  There were a lot of New York and Florida plates.  At that point, I wasn’t paying much attention to the news – family members I called (to let them know I was feeling a bit under the weather) told me about it.

      So, I called the covid19 clinic late on Friday, was told that it was closed until monday – and that I could go to the E.R. if I needed to.  Saturday afternoon, something in my brain flipped.  I don’t know what, entirely – not a great deal is known about what specifically causes panic attacks – though there are many theories (the most popular being either simply “stress” – or an imbalance of brain chemicals, specifically Norepinephrine and possibly serotonin).  I went from 0 to 150 in just a few minutes.  I had been shoving down any worry about covid19, trying to ignore my fears and focus on other things, mostly my books.  So when the panic attack hit, it was a surprise.  I hadn’t felt anything that terrible in years.  There are panic attacks and panic attacks – the one I experienced most recently I believe is generally referred to as “acute”.  Common in all of them is a great rush of adrenaline (fight or flight syndrome) as if you are getting your ass charged by a tiger or something, yet there is no clear threat.  A tingling sensation throughout the body – and in my head.  Nausea, trembling, a feeling of impending doom… checking constantly to see if I was breathing right, what my heart rate was, making sure I wasn’t feeling pressure over my heart (as that would be a good sign of a heart attack) and so on and so forth.

      Once on Saturday – and once yesterday, just before the call that told me the covid19 test was negative.  I called my psych nurse practitioner, who will probably try to put me on a new medication.  Frankly, as terrible and addictive as they are and can be, the only thing that works for me is a type of medication called “benzodiazopines”, that’s drugs like xanax, and ativan.  In my case – the generic, lorazpem, half a miligram, three times a day PRN.  You aren’t supposed to take them every day – unless you need to.  I have needed to for years.  The last several months it has been more twice a day than three times, but it is still… hard.

      Doubling up on the medication yesterday (a miligram of lorazepam as opposed to the half I normally take) didn’t do squat.  I’m walking outside, walking back inside, trying to pace, trying to control my breathing, trying music, switching to a youtube guided meditation video, trying to read, trying to do something, anything, that would make me feel like I wasn’t dying, that would slow the palpitations, ease the symptoms.  Nothing at all worked except for time.  It lasted roughly for two hours – a typical panic attack is usually 15-30 minutes.

      By the time I was finally able to get myself back under control, I was totally exhausted.  The rest of the night was mostly okay, then I woke up this morning – and of course the first thing I think of is “Oh shit, I haven’t had them like that for years – what if I am having a relapse?  Will the Doctor increase my medication?  Do I need to increase it?”  Some years back, I was in an acute state of anxiety (almost constant panic) for three months.  I was utterly incapable of functioning at a higher level.  I could talk, move around, do the basic things of eating (very little) and so on and so forth, but every day was walking around in a dramatic state of fear.

      A mistake that a lot of people make is thinking that panic attacks are the result of fear – that people who have them are cowardly.  Speaking for myself – I may be a little bit cowardly.  I have known people far braver than I, though, who have these damn things every day.  People who have it worse than I do.  I’ve read their books, listening to their stories – met a number of them.  It is poorly understood, in spite of all of our modern science and medicine.  I say truly though, that I would rather get my ass kicked, broken bones and nasty cuts and bruises, than have another panic attack like that.  I’d rather break both of my legs.

      There have been several books written on the subject – as it is very difficult to understand.  But, let us say that a Doctor had a patient who was having frequent heart attacks – and every time he came in, the Doctor gave him a new prescription for some pills and sent him home.  The heart attacks do not kill the patient, even though the patient is having them over and over again.  Finally, the patient despairs.

      That is how a lot of people with conditions like mine end up committing suicide.  Its why I had to go to a crisis center some time back.  A panic attack is not the same thing as a heart attack – but ask anyone who has had both – and they will tell you that they feel similar.  The primary difference with a heart attack is the feeling of the fist squeezing your heart, which I imagine sucks really bad.

      I have gone to extremes to reduce stress in my life.  I have done so much to keep myself sheltered, I can’t even work anymore because of all of this crap – if it gets worse, I don’t know what the heck I will do.  I’m not sure there is anything that I can do.  Doctors are reluctant to increase the dose of the medication I take because of how addictive it is (it is also linked, in long term studies, to alzheimers, dementia – etc – but I would much rather take it, even with that, than feel as I did yesterday).

      I guess I’m reaching out, asking for good thoughts and prayers from those inclined to pray.  I can handle most things… but before this I feel utterly powerless, vulnerable – and terrified.  I cannot live like that again.

    • #347359
      • Total Posts: 3,446

      They are exactly as you describe.Horrendous.

      And If I were a bettor,I would venture to say that the number of people who have them are increasing by the uncertain as times are.

      The awful part of a panic attack is that you don’t even know what triggers them,or why.

      Eventually,however,even the worst panic attack does subside.

      You are not alone.Keep that in mind if you can,and know that you are cared about and prayed for.

    • #347360
      Mr. Mickeys Mom
      • Total Posts: 6,056

      Exercising large muscles is gonna be part of this, and that doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it, my friend… I just want to know if you reviewed all that stuff.

      It’s hard to say “All is well with my world” when you feel this way, I do understand that, my friend.


      Hugs to you,

      Hell, no... I'm not giving up...

    • #347379
      David the Gnome
      • Total Posts: 3,147


      I have a tendency to be dramatic in my writing – except for one thing, I don’t exaggerate the power of panic attacks.  I doubt I can even do the damn waking nightmare justice with just words.  I know that… in time, they pass.  “This too shall pass” has often been my motto.  It is just that, in the middle of them, it seems that there is nothing, no relief, no help, nothing you can do to calm down or feel better, it just keeps on going like the damned energizer bunny.  It is good to know that I am not alone… though times like that, I feel alone even in a crowd.


      I did read the message.  I am not sure how well I feel that that fits me – some of it is pretty darn accurate – other parts… I am not so good at verbal communication, talking out loud.  I am not such a people person due to the anxiety issues and agoraphobia.  As for a perfectionist in my career – well, I don’t really have a career, beyond dumbassery.  If I did have one though, it is likely I would be highly critical of my own work – I always was, at whatever job I had.

      I appreciate that you took the time to do that.  It could be that I am wickedly out of balance in a spiritual/metaphysical sense.  I’m exercising some – mostly walking, went down to the river just a bit ago, sat there for a while and watched the water, the birds.  Between the sun and the breeze, it was quite nice – until the idiots started driving by me on their ATVs, going too damn fast.

      Honestly, it is just so damn hard to leave the house on my own.  So far I’m managing to take my fiance to and from work still, but I’m not really going anywhere or doing anything.  Maybe just getting out and walking more will help.  If I have a freak out panic attack in the middle of the street… well, then it happens.  Hopefully no one calls the cops thinking I’m on drugs or something.

    • #347430
      • Total Posts: 3,446

      You are fortunate that you have words to at least attempt to describe what a horrendous experience a panic attack can being in a nightmare from which you can’t awaken.

      If you have panic attacks,you know immediately.If you don’t,you can’t even hope to comprehend.

      Pulling for you…

    • #347447
      • Total Posts: 1,788

      I’ve had panic attacks as well @davidthegnome
      That sounds rough.

    • #347653
      • Total Posts: 254

      You said you’ve been cramming down fears of covid, cramming down thoughts of any kind instead of dealing with them is a major symptom of depression and panic disorder.  Sooner or later the subconscious will remind a person of whatever they’re denying.  This is all very well known, it’s not some mystery.  If this country had any decent mental health care we could stop being a 3rd-world shithole as noted in this article:

    • #347697
      • Total Posts: 1,358

      Here’s hoping things start getting better. Positive energy!

      If you give a man enough rope, it will be six inches too short. This is not the nature of rope- it is the nature of man.

    • #347698
      • Total Posts: 290

      I have somehow  managed to push them down hard during this pandemic . I know that if I have one then I’ll lose total control, they’ll  take over and I won’t  be able to function. Sending you good thoughts and positive vibes! ❤

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