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  1. Kevroeques

    Kevroeques

    Hello, all! I've been a lurker for about two months, and I want to start by stating that I'm very thankful for this forum, it's moderators, everybody who posts and the wealth of information and experience within that helps so many people, including myself, through this dizzying inferno of medically induced purgatory. I'll second by stating that I'm not an avid user of social media or discussion forums, so I apologize in advance if I seem not to reply timely or anything- I've discovered this site through mostly google results and decided it's time to enter the discussion. A bit about me: I had my first major panic attack in August 2013. I was with friends awaiting a party in Manhattan sipping wine, just biding time by stating at my phone. I had been offered a few bumps of cocaine- nothing I had ever done habitually, but was no stranger to on the odd Friday or Saturday night. I suddenly noticed my phone looked bizarre and my heart was racing. I was instantly swept into a mode that has changed my life in a terrible, recurring way. I had subsequent attacks that sent me to the ER and doctor's offices. After an EKG and blood tests, it was decided that I was indeed suffering from recurring panic attacks. I was offered buspirone which I took briefly- for only 3 weeks- before deciding I was better off just learning to control it. And control it I did, for two years. It caused unneeded strain and some avoidance, but I was usually good enough hiding in a bathroom stall or what have you for five minutes or so, and I'd be right as rain. I apologize if I'm talking more about my disorder here than my meds, but I feel it's important being that we often need to relate to eachother completely in why we took antidepressants as much as when we came off of them. Anyway, this past summer of 2015, I noticed changes. I had started a new seasonal job in November 2014 and the season ended early in late spring 2015, leaving me stagnant on unemployment until the next season started. I decided in the summer to visit friends in Virginia. The second I stepped off the train, I was greeted by a slow, almost aura-like startup of a panic attack. It was so bad I had to sit on a couch and close my eyes for a bit while my friends just waited for me to re-emerge. I did so, and we all went out for a beer and a bite- and it happened again! I quieted myself in a bathroom and finally calmed fully. I thought it was just the excitement of the trip and sauntered on. Well, I continued having strings of long-lasting panic attacks multiple times a day. If I was out in the summer heat, it was definite. If we went out in a group of friends, it was definite. One night it was so bad, I ran out of my friend's house and walked in the pitch dark of rural VA for almost two hours, calling my mother to calm me down (as she had suffered from panic induced anxiety in the 80's and still does, but always managed it without therapy or meds). We decided it was time to seek medical help. For brevity, I ended up seeking a therapist and psychiatrist who could help me. It was becoming chronic and debilitating, and I feared I wouldn't be able to return to work. And indeed, shortly before my first appointment, I had started work and had 2 weeks of constant panic attacks which led to a spectacular breakdown that would affect my cognition and coordination in such a way that a leave of absence was necessary. My pdoc prescribed escitalopram without hesitation. He issued no warnings about the difficulty of onset, and warned me of "minor" side effects. His only poignant statement was that it could take a few weeks to reach therapeutic effect. I went through over a month of complete mental discomfort and constant panic and fatigue before I got any relief at all- but it's not what I thought it would be. I was still getting panic attacks, but with less frequency- only now I also had lethargy, apathy, drunken vision, fatigue, depression with suicidal ideation, and the list goes on. It was horrible. Not only was I disappointed, but I was much worse off than I was a month prior, and I was now stuck on medication without an easy way out. At the doctor's request, I stayed on for an additional two months without any relief. I was becoming further agitated, addled, and depressed. I was now in a state of hopeless despair. I told him I refused to be on the medication for even one more month and requested a taper plan. He requested 10mg Prozac to mitigate the withdrawal for a month, which I abided. I felt A TICK better on the low dose of Prozac, but still far from functional. After a month of it, I asked my pdoc for a taper and he assured me I could come off it without any problems. Well, here I am. The first few weeks were riddled with sudden worsening of panic, dizziness, tension, uncomfortable fatigue and depression just to name a few. I had steeled myself for it, but my inner soliloquy couldn't save me from the enduring horror. Time stands still when your senses are all tied up in agonizing disarray. Within the few weeks, I saw a few windows, but was mostly engulfed in waves. Last week (around 5/16/16) I started to notice I wasn't paying attention to myself as much- as though I didn't need to. I was having some anxiety and panic, but the horror wasn't on me 24 hours like before. It was hope, and it felt great- but it didn't last. About three days later, I had sudden and very new symptoms. My ears feel pressured and full. My eyes feel pressured and crooked. My vision feels dim, and contrasting shades and colors look overwhelming (like a psychedelic effect without the fun or the consent of actually causing it with a substance). I'm lightheaded all day, yet still get brain zaps that amplify the dizziness momentarily- sometimes while still, sometimes with head or eye movement. I'm unbalanced and clumsy. It almost feels like a silent migraine without the light bursts. I living with my parents right now (bless them, they're selfless) and have woken one of them or the other almost every night this week because it's too scary to be alone- and I've never feared being solitary- but my symptoms are constant now without letup, but seem to erupt in intensity very late at night, being compounded by my insomnia and jilted internal clock. The other day I woke my mother at 2am. I was starting to cry- not the sad or confused kind, but the desperate, fearful kind. I haven't cried from fear or pain since I was 12. I decided I wanted to go to the hospital and try to get a brain scan, but all I got was an EKG and blood testing (which is all perfect). I'm now awaiting hearing from Medicaid, because I'm generally unemployed and my insurance ran out. I was partway past a consultation and psych test with a neuropsychologist when my insurance ran out. Now I have no course. I'm in limbo with my symptoms. I guess I just want answers. I can't "oh well" these symptoms. Part of me knows they're likely withdrawal in their newness and sudden, intense onset- but my cognition can't keep up when they hit hard. It's hard enough to keep a logical head throughout the day, when they're present but lower in intensity. But the sudden nature has me frightened. If I look back, nothing has gotten better at any point. In fact, I've gotten worse at almost any point and I'm fully disabled now. I don't feel good enough to see my friends- some I haven't seen in months- or my own brother who lives a bit over a mile away. Driving is scary and feels dangerous because my vision feels drunk, so I never do it anymore. And my head gets overwhelmed so fiercely so often with both physical and cognitive pressures and disarray that sometimes I can't speak and I collapse to my knees in absolute confusion and terror. I can't even find words meaningful enough to describe it, but I'm sure you're all familiar. I'm not a hypochondriac. In fact, before I had my first panic attack I rarely sought medical help and would go years without it. But now, I'm convinced I have a neurological disorder. The visual disturbances, the pressures, the mixed up senses, the cognition halting, the physical coordination problems and twitches that seem to favor the left side of my body almost exclusively. I'm terrified and won't likely be satisfied unless A) I suddenly recover in the near future to at least the state of only having anxiety and panic attacks or I get scanned by a neuro and optometrist for nervous malfunction in my brain and eyes and vet a clean bill of nervous health. It's hard to explain, but my symptoms are that sudden and that intense. Worth mention, I don't get random panic attacks anymore, but if my symptoms become inbearable I can be thrown into one. But chances are, I'm suffering from everything with a steady heart rate and a lack of epinephrine coursing my system- so I can't entirely blame momentary anxiety symptoms for a constant string of other symptoms I'm going through. I know this was lengthy and I thank anybody who took the time to read it. I guess my hopes here are to have somebody relate to me with what I'm going through and tell me what I'm experiencing is normal and I will eventually be okay. You read so much about the problem but people often stop writing at a point, so you never know if they feel better or got better. I also have a supportive family, but none save for my mother have suffered anxiety, and she never took meds so she can't understand what I'm currently going through. Some of my symptoms are hard to find specifically through searches, and this get linked to things like MS more than anxiety or SSRI withdrawal, which is scary- and we're all familiar with how little a doc knows or is willing to admit about these types of meds. It has calmed me a bit just getting this out, and I look forward to discussing anything about it with all of you. I promise I'll do my best to keep up and share any light or hope that I experience on this twisted journey! -Kevro
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