anxiety attackI was convinced I was dying.  As a matter of fact, there was no way you could convince me otherwise.  Oddly I accepted my fate and whispered to my husband “call 911, I’m dying”.  I was sweating profusely, I could feel my heartbeat in my neck and my pulse echoed in my ears.  I couldn’t breathe, my face felt weird, my hands were numb, and I was shaking like a leaf.  EMS arrived and tried with all their might to convince me I wasn’t dying, but I was convinced they just wanted me to die peacefully without a fight.  After some deep breathing and close monitoring I realized I wasn’t dying and was told I had an anxiety attack. 

Anxiety attack?  Surely not me.  I had no precipitating event.  I was just washing dishes.  I had very little stress and in my opinion I had it all together.  Anxiety?  Really?  Not understanding why I had an anxiety attack only made me more anxious.  Now I really had anxiety, and boy did it take over my life.

My next few attacks were at work.  This was embarrassing to say the least.  I was the counselor who helped everyone else deal with their issues and my life was spinning out of control.  The next few were random places – the mall, WalMart, the grocery store.  Pretty soon I was kind of afraid to go in public out of fear of having yet another attack.

I was embarrassed about my anxiety.  I didn’t want people to know because I felt it was a sign of weakness or that I couldn’t control my life.  Although I knew I would never tell a client that and would never believe that about a client, I believed it about myself.

One day I decided I was going to fight back.  I refused to accept this fate of constant fear.  I embarked on a journey of self-exploration and several visits to physicians.  In the end, I found that my anxiety was due to a hormonal imbalance and that made a big difference.  Once I figured out the cause, it wasn’t as scary.

Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of.  Even now, my hormones get out of whack and I will have random attacks.  If you are having anxiety, don’t sit in silence and suffer.  Seek help and find a method of coping that works for you.  Talk to your doctor, find support groups, engage in counseling, take medications, find alternative therapies; the possibilities are abundant.  Discovering why you have anxiety is the first part of the battle, learning how to deal with it is the other.  When I decided to stop being anxious about being anxious, I got my life back.

I blog for World Mental Health Day

Emergency photo available from Shutterstock