posted on: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It all started Thursday night. Wes was on his way to bed after a long day when he stopped short at the bottom of the stairs and vomited all over the floor and down the front of his clothes. We had just gotten back from his superhero class and dinner. I'd gotten him an ice cream after dinner and knew something wasn't right when he barely touched it. Josh was at a work event and I was home alone with the boys. Thankfully, Oren was asleep in his carseat from the drive home so I could give all my attention to my poor (I can't believe this is actually happening again) sick boy.

It was gastroenteritis (you know, the stomach flu). And by the next night I had it and by the following morning Oren had it too. This in and of itself is no fun at all, but at least it's short lived. Only lasting about a day, it disappeared about as quickly as it came. My problem is what it lead to, which for me, was a panic attack.

I wanted to write about this because it's something I've been dealing with for about the last six or seven years. I know I'm not the only one to deal with anxiety issues, but it's so rarely talked about, sometimes I feel like I am.

I don't get them often, only about once a year on average, I'd say. My panic attacks are not frequent and are not something I have to deal with often, thank god. Usually they're triggered by an emotional event...having Wes for example. Right after he was born, on our first night home I had one. But also when I get really sick, usually the vomiting kind of sick, seems to now end in a panic attack. And with as sick as we have all been this winter, it's now happened twice this month alone.

If you've never experienced a panic attack, the best way I can describe them is to say that they are so totally bizarre and scary. What usually happens with me is they come out of nowhere in the middle of the night. It almost always wakes me up out of a dead sleep. Panicked, of course, I wake up shaking like a leaf, heart racing, sweating, blood pressure through the roof, teeth chattering, tingly arms and hands, lightheaded, with shortness of breath that I can't control (like hyperventilating), nauseous, and if I haven't been already, vomiting. It's like I wake up in the middle of a crisis that's not really happening. I have all the symptoms of panicking but without an actual reason to do so. (It's not like I'm being hunted down by a murderer --- it's completely uncalled for!) In my head I realize there is nothing actually wrong and no reason to be panicked but I can't shut down or control the physical symptoms despite knowing this. They completely take over my body and I just feel trapped inside of it. It's absolutely miserable and I've never been able to stop one without medical intervention.

Because I vomit so much when it happens, or as in the case this month I vomit so much it triggers one, I quickly become dehydrated. Earlier this month it happened in the middle of the night and Josh took me to the ER where they got it under control with just anti nausea medicine and two bags of IV fluid. Sometimes I need a dose of anti-anxiety medicine (like a xanax) to stop it. Sometimes all I need is re-hydrated...

They've checked my heart with an EKG to see if the underlying cause is a heart issue linked to dehydration since it always sends my heart rate through the roof, but nothing turned up there. Basically, they don't know why I get them or how to stop them from happening without medication. As I've said, they've been infrequent enough that I've resisted going on a daily anxiety medication to prevent them. But now, with two this month alone, I'm feeling like a daily medication might be the only answer. I certainly don't want to have any more (ever again, please!) and trips to the ER are not cheap or fun. This weekend when it happened it was during the day and I was able to just go to an urgent care down the street to be treated. But they usually happen at night when the emergency room is the only option.

I'm not sure yet just how this will all work out, or if this is something I will have to continue to deal with for the rest of my life. But I wanted to be honest about this thing I've been dealing with so much lately. And I wanted to talk openly about it so anyone else out there who might be reading this and might be facing something similar knows they are not the only one. It's scary and inconvenient and totally crappy when it happens, but I also know that I'm not crazy and it does happen to other other people and I will figure out some way to manage.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? I'd love to hear how you've dealt with it (and best of luck to you if you're like me and still figuring it out!)


  1. I have extreme anxiety and panic issues. It's basically 89% of why I'm silent in social situations. Unlike yours, mine is almost always triggered by overly social interactions or situations that over stimulate me. They used to be INSANELY debilitating for me, but a friend told me about EFT (it sounds crazy I know) which is a method of tapping mentally, counting, and breathing. It has completely helped reduce my panic. Whenever I feel the panic or anxiety coming, I just try and talk myself out of it. It 100% helps if you try and stop it before it consumes you.

  2. You're only as crazy as your mother! oh wait....that's me! Hang in there, your doctor will help you through this and find the best way to handle it. It may be trial and error, but worth it in the end. Seriously worth it - even if it means daily medication. If you're lucky, maybe you can find something like Jessica to help you with it! xoxo

  3. My life is a panic attack. Lately, work has been nothing but heart racing, sweaty, nauseating panic. My only reprieve was anti-anxiety meds for a while, but now I'm trying to get through it with EFT exercises like Jessica suggested. It takes practice, and in a lot of ways I still feel like it's not working because I never get down to a baseline of acceptably calm. I feel like I am always on edge.

    Maybe do some cardio? I know I always feel a little better after a kenpo session with Tony Horton!

  4. @jessica and marisa, thanks for the tips. I will seriously try anything at this point. Also, wtf? Three people I see weekly have anxiety issues? This is definitely more common than I thought, even if we all have different manifestations of it. Thanks for sharing guys :)

  5. I have had anxiety all my life, but after Colin was born it got way out of control. I take Lexapro and Wellbutrin every day and I never knew what normal was supposed to feel like until I tried them. I have been on them for about 10 years now and they have changed my life. I have never had an actual panic attack but that sounds terrifying.

    Also, working out is a huge help when I can get motivated and have the time. It is worth it to make the time, and I don't find that enjoyable at all.

    Hang in there, the first thing you try might not be the answer, but keep at it.

    You can get my number from Laura if you want to talk about any of this or want to know how the medication affected me. Rest assured, you are not alone.

  6. @Kate thank you for all the info. I can't believe how many people I know that have the same type of issues. It's too bad, but somewhat refreshing to hear, actually! Glad you have found a solution that's worked for you!

  7. My panic attacks began after having kids. They're 4 and almost 2 now, but my daily dose of Celexa and Clonazepam really help me feel normal. I actually talk about it a lot on my blog if you want to come over to read. :)

  8. Hi would you mind letting me know which hosting company you're utilizing? I've loaded your blog in 3 different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker
    then most. Can you suggest a good hosting provider at a fair price?

    Cheers, I appreciate it!

    Also visit my web-site :: Florentino Peelle


I Am Emme All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger