So, my psych meds were all cut off a while back, and my brain is still adjusting, and I’m doing okay holding things together so far. Today I came super close to having a panic attack that would in the past have had me heading to the liquor store, as soon as the experience had passed enough for me to stand up again.
The trigger? Ironically, fear of relapse. More precisely, fear of a panic attack that would leave me temporarily irrational, and that in that irrational state I would make a foolish choice to drink.
Now the reason this nearly pushed me over the edge is that there was already a base built, made of sleep deprivation, nausea, and muscle pain, all stemming from symptoms of untreated severe generalized anxiety. My anxiety levels fluctuated as they do, and I found myself bumping into the threshold where it becomes a point-of-no-return for a panic attack. Thankfully my coping skills kicked in automatically due to extensive practice with using them, and I backed away from the edge.
Anxiety levels still highly elevated, but I’m still sober, still truckin’. Helps to come here and post about it. Planning to hit my next meeting tonight, but it’s going to be tough. Haven’t been to this particular meeting time, there’s anxiety associated with that, and I have to stay awake and not be stress vomiting when I get there.
After that? Recover! Self care, relax, spend time with my family, self massage, healthy snack, rest.
As someone who has Panic Disorder, and has had the only med that works for me taken away before, I know that feeling all too well. Like you, during that time, my go to was to drink. People who have never had a true panic attack do not know what it’s like to have that fear of it happening again. It is truly awful and I feel for you, man.
It’s awesome you were able to adapt and overcome. In my experience with it, the more you do it the easier it gets. Keep it up and if you ever want to get more in depth with it shoot me a message, I’m here!
Thanks. Yeah it bothers me sometimes how people throw around the term panic attack, and then I don’t know what to call my experience anymore because they assume I’m referring to something like an anxiety attack, until I explain what the symptoms are like.
I get it though, English is a living language, it becomes how it is used, so panic attack means something broader to most people and I accept that.
You described that very well! The more you know about how anxiety manifests itself, the easier it gets to manage it, right? I’m glad you are going to the meeting. After a few minutes, you will settle in just fine, I bet. I so know what you are talking about with fear of relapse causing high anxiety. I have thought myself into heart palpitations and numb arms over this myself many times. Full blown attack and I get this wierd thing called disrealization where things don’t seem real. Luckily, I haven’t gotten that far while sober, hopefully it was due to alcohol. My therapist told me to sit and meditate on relapse. Basically, go through it mentally from beginning to end. How would it happen, what exactly would it look like, follow it all the way through to the end results and the feelings that would accompany that, and then further to what it would look like to fight for sobriety again. Confront it before it happens and remove the fear. This worked for me, as I don’t fear relapse anymore to the point of panic, but I could see how it might not be good for someone else.
I kind of disagree that panic attack can mean something else in language. I think it is misused and before I began having them two years ago, I probably misused the term too. The misuse of the term leads people to judgement and misunderstanding of how debilitating they can actually be and how downright terrifying in the moment. I truly believe that getting past the fear of them is a huge factor in preventing them.
Honestly I didn’t even think about relapse until my panic attack advanced warning sensors activated. At that point my brain grabs all the worst possible outcomes to the situation and starts trying to frantically process them, and possibility of relapse just happened to give the anxiety the most fuel. I could have worried about accidentally kicking my water glass over the carpet and it would have done the job to cross the panic threshold.
I think I could have done more to not even let my brain get near emergency mode. Sacrificed activities yesterday to sleep earlier. Stretch out my tight muscles before bed. Et cetera. Remembering to do those things to get sleep and relief to help reduce my baseline anxiety so I don’t have simple twitches in mood push me over the edge. When I’m that close to the edge like I was today, success rates for my coping skills go down because more of my brainpower is sucked into anxiety and unavailable for coping. I’m much stronger turning it away before it gets there.
I wanted to sleep so badly but couldn’t. I was so anxious I started convincing myself to stay home. Avoiding TMI, my body was very unhappy with this situation. Very unhappy. Alarm hit 7:30, and I made myself go anyways. I told myself even if I stress vomit in front of the meeting I’ll still go because I decided that’s what I should do.
My anxiety melted once I actually sat down in the meeting. I even shared to a room full of strangers for my first time about my journey to the rooms. I didn’t freak out when everyone made a big warm enthusiastic celebratory deal about having a newcomer when they shared, and I got lots of solid support, encouragement, advice. I left feeling full and poured into.
My takeaway from this is that I have no excuse to use anxiety as an excuse. I mean, I kinda knew it already as “book fact” but not as life experience.
Though I have used up lots of energy, and my body is asking for regeneration. So for the rest of the night, health and self care, rest. Tackle tomorrow precisely when it arrives. That’s the plan.
You’re a hero - way to use those coping strategies. It also sounds like you’ve got a lot of yoga/meditation skills at play, separating the chattering monkey mind (anxiety) from your true self (a great, sober, level headed person). You are recognising the symptoms for what they are - SYMPTONS. Not you, something that’ll pass with the right care.
Amazing job and hope you find support in the meeting and have a wonderful evening of self care x
Haha as rough as the symptoms get, it’s nice to be able to recognize that they’re anxiety lies. I wanted to respond to my anxiety with all sorts of things like “Oh? You think that’s going to happen if I go? Wanna make that a bet? Bring it!”
…though I wasn’t nearly so cool in reality. I just kinda figuratively mumbled “shut up I’m doing a thing”. Still had the anxiety, still terrified. But I’m onto all the devious scheming!
I have had severe panic attacks in the past, luckily unrelated to alcohol, and my physician prescribed beta blockers. They treat the symptoms - racing heart, tightening chest, etc., which was more effective than my antodepressants/antianxiolytics.
Your post has really inspired me! Coping with GAD and panic attacks is a rough mission. Sober now562 days but still on meds for anxiety which I am slowly reducing, down to 30mg of Citalapram daily now. Keep trucking will be my mantra Thank you for sharing
Man, I know this story too well! When I got clean it was alcohol AND benzos. A lot of people around me tend to forget that I was legitimately prescribed them for so many anxiety disorders, including acute panic attacks. I still have them sometimes. But I’ve been forced to live life without them for a long time now and I’ve been through so much anxiety and panic attacks that I basically do the exact same thing you do. Haha, I’ve never told myself, “shut up, I’m doing a thing,” but that’s going to be a go to from now on. I usually just assure myself that I’m not actually dying and that it will pass like it always does. After the loooong detox from benzos nothing will ever be that crazy. If I survived that there is nothing that cannot be overcome. NOTHING!
@jms, I am on propranalol for anxiety. I cannot come close to expressing how much this has changed my life! If only someone would have tried it while I was downing the benzos things may have been much different! I’m on a quarter of the normal dose now because it makes me light headed sometimes, but that small amount takes the edge off every day anxiety issues and helps keep things from spiraling down.
I’m so glad you had this experience, and thank you for sharing it. I had an experience in the same vein last night. It had been a rough day with my kids. My shoulders and neck were so tight they acged and I had a rough tension headache. I didn’t want to go to my meeting, but I knew I needed it. Within twenty minutes of getting there, I felt my muscles begin to relax. By the time the meeting was over, my headache had eased. I so needed that peace.
I hope you got some good rest last night, and that you woke in an easier place. Again, thank you for sharing your experience and your perspective and strength.
I don’t understand either. When I was prescribed it I googled it for anxiety and I don’t think I saw a negative comment at all. Not one! What medication can you say that about? The physical stuff is what makes the spiral start to happen, at least for me.
I’m so glad this helped other people! I started talking about it to help me mentally regain my footing and just get things out, and share my plans to attend a meeting to make me more likely to follow through. But it ended up doing more than that! Awesome!