My background is like any other. I had parents. They were parents. I had friends, they were friends. I had lovers. Many of them are now ex-lovers, but at the time they were most certainly lovers. My life was most assuredly normal. Yet somewhere along the way, for reasons I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to understand, I experienced something that later in life caused me to experience severe panic attacks.
When I say “something” I don’t mean “an event.” I mean “I have no idea.” I don’t know why they occurred or what triggered them. I don’t think anything triggered them. Then one day I was walking home and then BAM.
I thought I was going to die.
Nothing precipitated it. Nothing led up to it. I was certainly in good health, in my 20′s, with no apparent stress or anxiety (at least nothing more than normal), and suddenly there – on the sidewalk – I was convinced I was going to die.
Not “die someday” or “die soon.” I was convinced I was going to die, right there, right then. I was convinced I was having a heart attack, and I could feel all of the symptoms that heart attacks entail:
- Squeezing of the heart.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Lightheadedness/feelings of feint.
- Chest pains.
- Weakness in the legs.
- Trouble breathing.
I called 911. I got in an ambulance. I went to the hospital. By the time I got to the hospital I felt better – winded, but better. The doctors checked me out and said nothing was wrong with me. I went home.
The very next day it happened again. This time I was at work. It was so severe I essentially gave up on life. I accepted that the doctors couldn’t find anything and that I was about to die. Then I didn’t die. About 20 minutes later I was better, as if nothing had happened.
After doing some research on the symptoms, I found the answer – I was suffering from panic attacks, a type of anxiety disorder that causes immediate, intense feelings of fear, often about one’s health, and can lead to over-sensitivity to small changes in the body or psychosomatic pains and health issues.
Of course, all the research in the world couldn’t tell me that what I was experiencing wasn’t real. It took years for me to overcome these panic attacks. For a time I was intensely agoraphobic, and I struggled to maintain any type of relationship because the panic attacks kept coming back. It wasn’t until years later when someone I really cared about forced me to get help that I was able to find a way to rid myself of the panic attacks.
It wasn’t long after ridding myself of them that I realized how many others were experiencing the same thing, and how little awareness there was about the severity of panic attacks and what the experience was really like. Those that suffer from panic attacks tend to legitimately feel that they’re about to die – every time they suffer from a panic attack. What makes it worse is that it’s impossible for a doctor to tell you that nothing is wrong in a way that’s comforting. There’s always a concern, deep in the back of your mind, that the doctors simply haven’t been able to find it yet, because the panic attacks are so real and so pronounced that during the panic attack it’s easy to feel as if there is no way the doctors are correct.
It’s this lack of awareness and understanding about panic disorders that started me off on my mission to educate others about what panic attacks really feel like. Panic attacks have very few treatments, and yet the experience can be so incredibly draining and damaging that it can easily ruin the lives of anyone that’s experienced one. For a while I was spreading the word verbally, but it wasn’t long before I realized that the best way to get information out there is to utilize the worldwide power of the web. I started my website, www.calmclinic.com, and I frequently provide posts and answer questions on websites all over the world on almost every topic imaginable, in order to get the word out there and make sure that others understand what they’re going through.
Panic attacks took away years of my life, and if I hadn’t gotten help they would have taken them all. It’s difficult for most people to understand what a serious and intense experience it is to believe that you’re dying every time you leave the house. That’s why I became so interested in teaching others about panic attacks and discovering panic attack treatments and that’s why I will continue to spread the word on the topic to anyone that wants to listen.