I would like to introduce myself and share my story. My name is Justin, I'm a 26 year old college student studying Information Technology - Help Desk Support. I've been trying to improve my outlook on life and become a better person to help me deal with my anxiety and panic attacks.
My anxiety and panic attacks began when I was a teenager. At the time I was young and naive and started smoking marijuana. Well, I didn't know anything about panic attacks at the time. I think I first noticed my panic attacks recurring nightly, because I had a hard time sleeping then I would smoke to help me get to sleep. The attacks that I had back then weren't so bad, they would just be my heart racing after I would get done smoking and be laying in bed. But I was still somehow able to fall asleep pretty quickly. Well, I went to the doctor and filled out a form, and she told me that I was having these problems because of panic attacks. So she prescribed me Paxil CR, I took those for about 3 months, stopped smoking marijuana, stopped taking the Paxil and I was good.
That was when I was 18. Well, fast forward to me being 24, I had smoked every now and then, but this time I was at a friends house, took a hit from a bong after being awake for only an hour, and bam! I had a BIG panic attack. I felt depersonalization, I was paranoid, and felt like I was going crazy. This was the first time I had experienced these symptoms during a panic attack, so I was very, very afraid. I was trying to get a hold of my doctor to see what I could do to feel better, but I was unsuccessful in reaching anyone at the time. I can't remember how long the symptoms were really bad for, but I know I had the symptoms for two hours. I managed to fall asleep while I still felt anxiety and panic, but to a lesser extent. I woke up about an hour or two later, felt mostly better, and was able to get a hold of a counselor at the clinic and that was the extent of that.
So about a year ago, I was 25, I had gotten laid off from work due to a lack of work. I got evicted from my apartment and had to move in with my friend who had been working at the same place I had, which sucked because him and his girlfriend had just broken up and it wasn't a good environment to be in. And after about a month of being there he was getting evicted too. That was when I had another really bad panic attack, because I didn't know where I was going to go or what I was going to do. The symptoms were pretty much the same as the last bad attack that I had but worse and it happened mid-day. The attack started when I was in the shower, I just remember feeling like my hands weren't my hands and then the attack happened. I freaked out, my mind was racing, so I hopped out of the shower real quick, dried off, got dressed and laid down in my room and started researching panic attack symptoms to try and reassure myself that that's what I was having. Well I went the whole day trying to watch movies and relax while feeling the anxiety and panic, until I finally fell asleep. I woke up the next day feeling better, but not completely relaxed, I was still a little on-edge. I had been talking to my Mom to see if I could come stay with her at my Aunt's place, because she was unemployed and staying there at the time. She came down to see me later that day, and told me that it was a no go. So there came another attack, not as bad as the day before, but still pretty bad.
I had my Mom take me to the ER and got signed in for my panic attacks. I talked to the nurses, the doctor, and a social worker and got prescribed for Lorazepam. So I went and picked that up, asked the pharmacist how strong the meds were(1mg), and took a half a pill. Went to family friends' house to talk to them about staying there and they said that we could. So the next day we started packing and moving stuff to a storage unit and just bringing the essentials to their place. I took a half a pill for the next two days after receiving the meds, so three days in total and then stopped taking them cause I was feeling myself again. After about a month of not taking the meds and mainly feeling fine, I felt weird, but it was different than the panic attack feelings I had, so new and scary. So I took a half a pill to help me, but it didn't work like it had in the past.
So this went on for the next two months or so, I would be fine most of the time, but there was something different going on in my mind and I knew it wasn't the regular panic attack feelings or thoughts. So I would take a half a pill when I thought I needed it and it would mostly help. Well one day I decided to do research on the Lorazepam. I found out the symptoms of withdrawal and knew instantly that that's what was going on with me. So I decided right then to stop taking them and fight through the scary. It was difficult for me to get through this. I was mainly staying to myself and I didn't want to tell anyone about what I was going through. It took a couple of months for the withdrawal symptoms to somewhat subside, maybe more, its kind of a blur and hard for me to remember how long everything actually took. And slowly but surely, the longer time went on, the better and better I started to feel. I think its been about two or three months since I have felt anything weird related to the withdrawal symptoms, and it took a while, I had the symptoms for around 8 or 9 months. And I know this isn't the case for everyone, usually people have been on the Lorazepam for at least a month or so and take more than .5mg of the meds, if memory serves me correctly, before they usually get the withdrawal symptoms. I think I was just hypersensitive to it.
But I have been doing really good these past two months. I have been hanging out with my friends more, getting out and doing the stuff that I would normally do and more. Sometimes I felt a bit of anxiety creep up, but nothing I couldn't deal with and get over. I have taken up indoor bouldering(a type of rock climbing), weight training, researching nutrition, switching my diet to more raw and organic foods, and resuming the hobbies that I enjoy. But yesterday, after doing my usual workout, coming home and eating, doing laundry, I jumped in the shower and had a moderate attack. I knew it might happen when I was jumping in the shower, because I felt a bit disconnected and not myself yesterday. I still do have days like this when I feel that depersonalization, its not very bad, but it usually lasts throughout the day which just isn't nice, because I like who I am and I don't enjoy feeling like I'm not myself. So I cut my shower short because I was kind of freaking out and felt a little on-edge for the rest of the night. Then today I woke up and felt a lot better, pretty much normal. Then I went to the gym, started my workout with cardio on a bike like I normally do, and about two minutes into the cardio I felt the panic again. A quick heat wave and numbness went through my body and I felt anxiety. It wasn't a full blown attack, but it was trying to be. So I got off the bike, did my stretches and my workout with the anxiety and panic trying to creep up on me, because I was still on edge throughout my workout, and came home.
I decided to do more research on anxiety and found a link to this page from another page that I have bookmarked. And I am so glad that I found this link. Because I went through the first stage of CBT(which I have been trying to find stuff to learn or go through CBT online for about the past ten months without any luck), read some of the forum posts, and have been very fortunate that I found this site. So far my on-edge feeling has subsided and I feel like myself again just from doing the first stage and reading the forum posts. The members and educators here are fantastic, I can tell just from the posts I've read. Thank you for such a great site. I can't wait to learn more and get completely over the anxiety and panic that is somewhat still there.