I have experienced most of the symptoms you listed. It was a terrible, miserable time. The pressure on my chest was unbearable — like there was a truck sitting on it. And the tiredness I felt — I used to describe it as “It feels like I have leukemia flowing through my veins.” Fairly regularly I would have full-blown panic attacks that would completely leave me disabled. I could walk into a department store, feel pressure on my chest, the lighting seemed off, and I would begin to feel dizzy. Then a wave of blackness that began on my right side would slowly make its way to the left until I was completely overcome by it and landed on the floor with a crowd of people standing over me. Several times I ended up on a cot in the employees’ lounge. Many people thought I was having a heart attack and wanted to call for an ambulance. I knew it was an anxiety attack and stopped them from calling until I could take a Xanax.
This was in my 30s before children. But when it would happen with my children in the car, I decided enough was enough. And since I couldn’t trust pulling over safely — and Xanax takes a full twenty minutes to work — I asked for something I could count on 100 percent of the time. It was then that my doctor prescribed Klonopin. I took it like a vitamin — one in the morning and one before bed. I even forgot I was taking anything. And one day I realized I never felt dizzy or weak or extremely tired or that feeling when I used to wake up in the morning and for no apparent reason feel so angry I could pound the walls. It was a huge relief to trust myself that I wouldn’t collapse in a department store or on an airplane or in my own bedroom or that I might scream while sitting in a crowded theater.
My first anxiety attack was when I was a senior in college, and my last one was the first day I took Klonopin. Klonopin took all my anger and anxiety away, but it did nothing for my depression, which I’ve always referred to as a mild form that was always there like a cloud over my head — not the debilitating kind — but the kind that sapped my energy and made me feel negative about everything. So about seven years ago, I decided I had to find a way to get rid of the depression, as well. I began taking an antidepressant called Effexor XR. It works on anxiety and depression, and it has been a life changer for me.
I’m not suggesting you take any of the medications I’ve mentioned. I only wanted you to know that I have experienced all of the symptoms you are now experiencing, and that I was able to overcome it all and feel like a different person. And I hope you find the best method for you to feel better. It sucks so much to feel all that shit.