It was 1998 when I first started having panic attacks. Back then, I didn’t know what they were. But considering how difficult my life was at the time, they were expected. I recall having a feeling that something was about to go wrong and then the sweating, heart palpitations and shaking would start. It felt like I was having some kind of health episode – maybe a heart attack or stroke. It was ridiculous because I was only in my 20s!
While the episodes would always pass, they often left me shaken trying to grasp what had happened and what was happening to me. Back then, I had not yet been diagnosed with RA and fibromyalgia. It would take another ten years for that to happen. The panic attacks got more and more frequent and they continued for years.
I got treatment but nothing helped. I remember having to go outside in the dead of winter because I was struggling to breathe and sweating like crazy. Emergency room visits involved lots of testing and no answers. One day, they just stopped. I don’t know when or why but they did. Maybe, it was because of the medications I was taking to treat RA and fibromyalgia or maybe, it was the years of therapy, but they stopped and they stopped for years.
The anxiety and panic attacks have recently started up again and have been happening for a few months now. It seems like there is no end in sight. I know what they are but it doesn’t make them any less difficult. In the past, stressful events in my life triggered them and that is why I am struggling to understand them now. I am not dealing with anything stressful. Granted, I don’t do well in crowded or tight places and struggle with fears of lack of acceptance and failure, but I have learned to avoid these things or manage them appropriately.
I am frustrated that I trade one ailment for another. I just found out the pre-cancer cells are gone and that they won’t probably won’t return and that should be cause for celebration but I am struggling to deal with something else. I have accepted RA and fibromyalgia and outside from a few flare-up episodes throughout the year, I consider myself doing well. My worries as single mother are not new. Any other ongoing difficulties that I have endured are the norm. I accept them. But why this? Why now?
I always told myself asking why didn’t give me any solutions. The best I can do right now is to work with my doctor to look for solutions and to manage each panic attack as it comes. What other options do I have?