Panic Attacks

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?

-Melissa

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Panic Attacks

  1. Nicole

    OMGGGG, same thing happens to me :S
    Not from the pill, and not so often anymore, but it’s still a terrifying and excrutiating experience.

    I remember my first one; at Deux Pierrots, on Canada Day some 3 or 4 years ago… It lasted a good hour and a half before I just decided to leave… I seem to avoid anywhere that has a crowd now to perhaps stop panic attacks from happening :S No matter how much someone tries to calm you down or tells you everything will be ok, it will never make it better :S

    As for what could be causing your panic attacks; it could be a result from the surge of hormones from the reuptake of your pill and at the time of your cycle? I don’t know, sounds like a plausible scenario.

    • badbangs

      i remember how claustrophobic you got in the elevator! that must be tough. i hate crowded places but only because i hate people, not because i’m scared of getting an anxiety attack.

      yeah, i’m thinking it’s a plausible scenario. so are other ladies online. i’m gonna ask my gyno.

      -mel

  2. Vanessa

    Ask your gyno about an IUD.

  3. leslie`nikole

    =/ sounds real scary.
    talk to your doctor or try taking them right before you go to sleep..

    unless you suffer from sleep paralysis like i do, i wouldn’t suggest the later.

  4. Janet

    I have never gotten a panic attack. But what about getting on the shot (Depo Provera) instead of the pill? Ever consider it?

  5. you’re lucky they happen in your bed, my one and only panic attack (knock on wood) happened in front of daddy… oh and I erupted in tears during the process. He wanted to bring me to the hospital.

  6. carla

    whoa it’s so weird how i haven’t read your blog in a while and suddenly remembered today to see what’s happening…the exact same thing’s happening to me and i thought i was just me unknowingly losing my mind…although this pill has its benefits, it always manages to find unexpecting ways to mess around with your body in ugh

    • badbangs

      finally someone who knows what i’m going through!! i’m going to the gyno (uuuugggghhh) tomorrow i’ll let you know what he says.

      -mel

  7. ah it’s so head clearing to see that I’m not the only one who gets panic attacks. I never ever linked it to the pill. But i’ve had panic attacks for 4 years and I avoid doing so many things incase I get them. It’s horrid.
    Come to think of it, I never did get them until I went on the pill..but I did go off it and still got them, but now I’m off it and don’t have them nearly as much.
    Having (not really) coped with them for so long, i’ve come to the conclusion it’s when you do too much and feel like you’ve got too much on yer plate. But it could be the pill! how interesting! hope they go for you soon, they are GRUESOME.

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