My anxiety and panic disorder

by Chris Skinner

I have lived with anxiety disorder and panic disorder at various times in my life.  When I get scared, this stimulates my fight or flight response giving my body a temporary adrenaline rush to either defend myself or run away.  

Anxiety can cause tension, feelings of extreme worry, and physical sensations such an increase in blood pressure. Anxiety disorders are characterized by recurring intrusive thoughts/concerns. Some people avoid situations, which cause physical changes like sweating, trembling, feeling dizzy, or an increased heart rate.

Panic disorder feels like I’m having a heart attack

It comes with vertigo, and a feeling that I’m losing control. Many people are diagnosed at the ER after other things are ruled out. My first panic attack was intense and it felt like I was a wild animal in a tiny cage. Although I’m on medication, I also use self-help techniques.  

When I was a child my anxiety disorder manifested itself in worrying about my dad’s health and trying to keep up with school. I would mix my self esteem in with his. I was scared others would find out that I was an emotional wreck on the inside.

My general fear, in all situations, wasn’t normal, but men are supposed to be tough so I never talked about it. I was also fearful it would complicate my dad’s health problems. I struggled to keep myself from falling apart which made me seem distant and different. As my dad started to do better, I came out of my shell more.  

In 2004, I found out I had a major health problem going from doctor to doctor to try to get my problem with my back taken care of. I was in so much pain, no seemed to be able to help. I required a dangerous surgery and fourteen doctors and two years later, I had the operation.

During that time, I wasn’t diagnosed with anxiety disorder right away, but the anxiety increased until it boiled over into my first panic attack which lead to many more. My first panic attack lasted for over four hours. Belly breathing helps me. On this occasion I did the belly breathing, took a warm bath, and listened to classical music.

I felt like I had no control and wanted out of my skin

My heart was racing and I couldn’t get comfortable. I knew what was going on because my wife suffers from them. I could have gone to the hospital, but I thought it wouldn’t last.

After I had my cyst in my spine removed I was perfectly fine.

No more anxiety or panic attacks until I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) which affects the nervous system. Many of the individuals with CRPS have depression and anxiety and my disease triggered it again.

There are people with CRPS that don’t have either mental health condition, but I wasn’t that lucky. If you feel you suffer from either anxiety disorder or depression, don’t ignore it.

I do belly breathing in a nice quiet place or with relaxing music. I lie down and bend my knees, place one hand on my chest area and the other around my stomach, then breathe in deeply through my nose I feel my belly rise, hold a few seconds, and finally release through my mouth slowly. Practicing this daily helps me when I start to feel anxious.

Sometimes medication may be necessary to help. While I’m on medication I talk about what’s going on with a therapist and try to control my anxiety with this and other relaxation techniques. Long term use on some medications can lead to dependence so I can’t use them daily.

If you need help, I will make myself available to talk.

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2 thoughts on “My anxiety and panic disorder”

  1. Thanks for this. Just recently had my first few panic attacks. The breathing technique does help as does music. I find myself listening to music throughout the day. (And I did feel like a caged animal with no release in sight)!! Thanks again!

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