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.

Writer and copyeditor. “What doesn’t kill us gives us something new to write about” ~ J. Wright

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