Anxiety, Panic and Mind Altering Drugs

by klparry

Ok. I’m going out on a limb here to discuss a very personal issue that I haven’t shared with many. My purpose in doing so is to provide hope to others that may be suffering as I once did.

In truth, no one person knows the full scope of my personal battles. One reason for my silence has been embarrassment. How does one explain that they are being manipulated by a primal survival instinct? An instinct that they have little to no control over.

If you knew me, you’d never guess that something was wrong. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I am the “go to person” when there is a problem. I’m a problem solver. Yet, I could not find a solution to my own terrible problem. I somehow thought that I should have the ability to eradicate it or, at the least, control it.

When I look back, I question whether an earlier pardon from the life sucking relationship I was buried in would have made a difference. But what I’ve come to realize is that my struggle with this affliction wasn’t the result of a bad marriage, though it most certainly contributed greatly to it’s growth. No, this problem came into existence long before that. In actuality, it first appeared at the tender age of 11, shortly after I had been relocated to California and, as I was entering puberty.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize what was happening in that brain of mine until many years later. By then, the damage to the neural pathways that trigger the fight or flight portion of my brain had been done. The affliction had become chronic.

 

“Breath into a paper bag.” 25 years ago, this was a Doctor’s answer to my concerns over the panic attacks and the debilitating anxiety I was dealing with.

Some years later my anxiety began causing my blood pressure to spike. It was then that another doctor wanted to put me on a drug to lower it. But despite my pleas and my own documentation to show that my periodic high blood pressure was a direct result of stress, I was ignored. I couldn’t understand how treating the symptom was going to affect the cause. Against doctor’s advise, I refused the drug that I believed could not help me and might actually cause me more harm than good.

It wasn’t until after having suffered through a serious bout of panic attacks, exacerbated by an emotional break up with a boyfriend, that I sought out psychiatric advise. As desperate as I was for a solution, I readily accepted a prescription for Prosaic. Unbeknownst to me, the drug’s main use is to treat sever depression, listing anxiety as a side affect. Having never suffered from depression for more than a day a two at a time, the drug’s effect only served to amplify my anxiety to the point of making me think of flinging myself from a roof top. I was literally teetering on the brink of insanity. My thought processes twisted and broken by the mind altering chemicals, had put me in a surreal, terrifying nightmare that I couldn’t escape. Thank God, my strong sense of self-preservation persevered.

Two weeks later I returned to the “professionals”, out of my mind from the effects of a wrongly prescribed drug. Despite the doctors insistence that the drug would work, which seemed ludicrous to me, given the fact that I wasn’t sure I could survive another week on the stuff, I went against their advise and immediately quit taking it. Within a matter of days my sanity returned.

That experience further convinced me that doctors couldn’t help me. I had resolved to deal with my problem on my own. Which I did, up until three years ago when a pounding, rapid heart beat forced me again to seek out medical attention.

I had been under tremendous mental stress at the time. What I hadn’t realized was that the stress had caused my heart rate and blood pressure to crest to a life threatening high. Doctors feared imminent cardiac arrest and immediately hospitalized me. This time Beta Blockers were administered. My heart rate slowed and my blood pressure dropped. I was deemed fit and sent home the next day with a prescription. A follow up appointment revealed no damage to the heart, no blockage in the arteries, everything was in fine working order yet my heart had nearly arrested because of the signals my brain was sending to my body.

Concerned that I could suffer a repeat of that episode, I  was elated when I was informed that the beta blocker would also stop the receptors in my brain from randomly triggering anxiety and panic. I had finally found the help that I’d searched so long for.

Now, that’s not to say that I still don’t have moments of anxiety. But it’s infrequent and never rises above a level that I can’t manage.  And, as for the panic attacks, well, I haven’t had one since beginning the medicine even though life continues to throw me a zinger every now and then.

Write on, my friends.

~ K. L. Parry ~ Author of “The Pirate’s Daughter and A King’s Ransom”

 

 

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