Wikipedia says that, “Experiencing a panic attack is said to be one of the most intensely frightening, upsetting and uncomfortable experiences of a person’s life.” That’s completely true. I can’t even find the words to describe how bad panic attacks feel. It’s almost like you’re stuck in a different dimension and you’re trying to escape but an intensely strong, invisible force keeps pulling you back in. For lack of a better description, it’s total chaos.
I had my first attack about a year and a half ago. I can’t even remember how I handled it. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I went from happy to scared shitless within seconds. It’s as though a layer of fear wrapped itself around me. I felt totally trapped. I was dizzy and couldn’t breathe. I tried to take long, deep breaths but my lungs wouldn’t let me. My heart felt like it was gonna jump out of my chest. Worst of all, I felt like I didn’t have any control over myself.
I’ve suffered many, many attacks since then. My episodes have gotten less severe, but they last a lot longer. I had one last night over several hours. I got up this morning, showered and got some green tea, hoping that these things would make me feel better. They didn’t. I still feel like my body is reeling from the worst fight-or-flight reaction it was ever faced with.
I used to assume that my panic attacks were caused by stress. I’ve always been the type of person to worry for no reason. I also juggle more commitments than I can handle. Still, as stressed as I can be, I’ve always dealt with it really well. So I decided to conduct an investigation of sorts. I started keeping a little panic attack calendar. The results were startling! I realized that my episodes are most likely caused by something other than stress: the pill.
I can pretty much predict my panic attacks nowadays. They happen after every period, when I switch from the placebos to the regular pills. They always happen in the middle of the night, too, presumably because I take my pill pretty late (around 9 or 10 p.m.).
I looked it up and it seems as though this is happening to a lot of women. The pill apparently heightens anxiety, which can trigger panic attacks.
I’m not sure what to do at this point. I almost want to get off oral birth control. I could switch pills, but it’ll be the third time I do that. I’m fed up. The panic attacks were all pretty traumatic for me and I really, really don’t want to have another one. At the same time, how do I know that when I get off the pill, the attacks will stop? Maybe I’m fucked for life. I don’t know. I’m freaking out.
Coincidentally, I’m seeing my gyno soon (I hate him but whatever). I’ll ask him about all this. In the meantime, have any of you ladies ever suffered from this? What do you think I should do?