Panic Attacks and Living Alone

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-18-2008
Panic Attacks and Living Alone
7
Wed, 06-23-2010 - 5:54pm

Little history first before I ask my questions. I have been having panic attacks (PA) since March 2009. My first experience with PA was derealization state, tightness in my chest, difficulty breathing, difficult to swallow, nausea, hot, cold, racing heart, dizzy, feeling of hot and lead heavy arms. I thought I was having a heart attack so I called an ambulance. It doesn't really help that I have a fear of having a heart attack due to the fact I lost my father at age eight from a heart attack. So if I feel the slightest heart attack symptom then all the others follow. It can be something as simple as a pain in my chest or back or nausea. I think I am having a heart attack which then brings on the PA. I am at my wits end. Currently taking Pristiq was taking Clonazapam at night and Lorazapam for a full blown PA. As of last week I am off the Chlonazapam, didn't seem to be doing much.

My question is this - I have most of my PA's at night and I live alone. Does anybody else live alone who has PA's and what do you do to get through them on your own? Sometimes I freak out so bad I just want to run get in my car and drive to where people are. I often consider driving and sitting in the hospital parking lot to see if I feel better. I just hate being alone when I have a PA. Is anybody else in my situation?

Thanks in advance.

I've tried soothing music, warm bath which kind of helps but I have this flight or fight feeling that it's hard to get through alone.

Avatar for booplady44
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-10-2003
Wed, 06-23-2010 - 8:01pm

I'm not in your situation, I don't live alone but I think all of us have experienced a PA while alone. Right now I'm working on staying home alone due to a small stroke I had which got my panic going. My pa's seem alot worse now if I'm home alone.


Having them at night when your alone is really tough. Have you tried having a friend stay over to see if it makes a difference? I used to have them at night and felt guilty waking DH up so just paced the floor downstairs until it passed. I suppose KNOWING that someone was there makes a difference tho.

BOOP


Three grand essentials to life are...something to do

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-18-2008
Thu, 06-24-2010 - 12:11am

Thanks for replying to my email. It was nice to hear that at least one other person (your friend) drives to the hospital and sits out in the parking lot. My mom lives out of town but when she comes to stay with me I don't seem to have as many pa's and they are not as severe. It really does help to have someone here.

Maybe I could "rent a husband" - LOL
Little joke, I'm tired :)

Avatar for booplady44
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-10-2003
Sat, 06-26-2010 - 9:38pm
I really liked the rent a husband idea!

BOOP


Three grand essentials to life are...something to do

Avatar for firstglimpse
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2003
Mon, 06-28-2010 - 12:48pm

My H travels a lot & I have two small ones at home who need a parent nearby & until recently would not have been able to to help out.

So, though, it's not a daily thing, I do understand. My grandmother died of a heart attack & my father has had a quintuple bypass surgery. My other grandmother had many strokes, more than she realized. So those ideas would often trigger anxiety into panic.

Time, education, exercise, diet & treating self right seems to be the best solution for myself.

I used to read books that would say not to fight the panic attacks. For years it seemed absurd & impossible. But with more education &, more importantly, acceptance of anxiety I have finally learned it is possible. There is a way to let the panic flood over you w/o reacting to it ... treat it like a head rush or something like that. Just let it pass.

Having a good diet & exercise helps not only that it reduces anxiety, but during an attack I'm able to not "feed" the anxiety & keep myself from a full-blown attack by reminding myself all the healthy stuff I do.

So in a nutshell....

Whole foods (rich in B & magnesium),
Yoga,
Water,
and acceptance.

I'm also finding working on my self esteem as a whole has been helping a lot too.

I've repeatedly have seen anxiety being characterized as being a monster. Every negative thought you contemplate while panicking only feeds the monster making him bigger & stronger. If you learn how to meditate & breath & learn to let thoughts flow in & right back out of you then you're able to 'starve' the monster. This is where yoga & meditation plays a huge role. Learning about the philosophy of Buddhism helps to teach me how to live more in the present rather than the past & future. As both of those tend to be major triggers as well. (The 'what-ifs' are future-casting for example.)

I still have anxiety, but for the past 4 years my panic attacks are either so rare, so short or so unnoticed now I hardly think of them.

I participated in a study for a workbook. They've now added CBT as part of their study. If you are willing to do the work, then this study may help. I think they persuade to not use medication, but will not tell you to stop though. I cannot remember exactly.

If you want to look it over go to actforanxiety.com

Peace




"Only when we are sick of our sickness shall we cease to be sick."

~ Lao-Tzu, from The Tao Te Cheng



"Only when we are sick of our sickness shall we cease to be sick."

~ Lao-Tzu, from The Tao Te Cheng
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-11-2004
Mon, 06-28-2010 - 5:12pm
Hi & welcome! You are NOT alone! I have been awakened in the middle of the night in full blown panic mode. I have been dying of *heart attacks* since I was 17. Now 57 & still going strong;) Many nights I was alone. There was a time that I was so frightened, I would call the ambulance. They knew who I was in the ER as soon as those automatic doors flew open. When I think about it now, I am embarrassed.
I have taken meds & been to therapy @ different times in life when I was stressed out & unable to cope. The things you're doing to help yourself are good. Other things you might want to try are yoga, meditation, belly breathing, progressive relaxation, etc. Some of these techniques you can teach yourself. Take a look through our long *coping tips & tricks* folder below. There's a long list of self-help books that ppl have shared w/us.
If you haven't seen a therapist, maybe you'd consider it now. It's good to talk these fears out w/someone who is supportive & objective. I have found that meds only mask the underlying reasons for our anxiety/panic.
Until you can learn new ways to cope, is it safe for you to drive to a place where ppl are? If so, could you calm yourself by walking through an all night shopping center? Could you sit in the parking lot of the hospital? Many of us have learned ways that help us through the attacks that might sound weird to others. If you can drive safely, you won't receive any negative comments here. We will support you, no matter what works for you. I learned to calm myself quite a bit through the above techniques, but there was a time that I needed to call my mother. I learned to accept that this was an illness & nothing to be ashamed of. My mom was understanding & I worked hard to forgive myself for being such a nuisance. One time I called the domestic violence crisis line. My psychiatrist had given me the number, mistakenly thinking it was for any sort of *crisis.* They were very nice:) Also, our local behavioral health unit would take calls by the night nurses. A few times they talked me through an attack. I have friends who did the same. Fortunately, I learned to do this myself(I am a slow learner;) so I KNOW that you can do it too!
Please post anytime. We care & will be happy to respond. GL & GBU! (((hugs))) jan

gem21uk

 

 


 



iVillage Member
Registered: 11-25-2010
Sat, 12-11-2010 - 9:18am
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-25-2001
Sat, 12-11-2010 - 12:08pm

There were a ton of good ideas posted already. My dh travels some and the first time I had (or recognized) panic attacks, he had moved out of state and I was staying in a long term hotel with my two small children until I could finish my job and join him. My panic revolves around fearing that I'm having a heart attack or other dire emergency and being alone with small kids made it way worse. Actually this board was a big part of getting me through it about 5 years ago - knowing I was not the only one feeling this way was a huge help. One other thought - have you considered getting a "panic button" service? Since you live alone, maybe having something like that would sooth you when you are not sure of your status enough that you could work through the other coping methods - help is a push away afterall. I pay to have OnStar in my car for that reason - it came with the car for 3 months and then I couldn't stand the idea of cancelling it (I do very vivid "what ifs" in my mind). When DH is out of town now, I HAVE to have my cell phone on the bed beside me. None of this is truely coping, however it eases my mind some and lets me work with reading/tea/music if I need to.

hang in there, you are not alone in your struggles!

Linda