It was almost thirteen years in between my two major panic attacks. The first attack I had was a classic one, you can read about it here. But my second attack was different, which I believe because it was more chemical in nature. I believe it was partly induced by my adverse reaction to Prilosec. Even so, it was a panic attack.
This panic attack started differently, as I don’t recall feeling poorly. I had been sitting in bed and I was probably on the computer. I felt almost like I couldn’t hold my head up properly, like the muscles in my neck were too weak. And I remember that I started feeling twitchy. My head twitched, my arms were twitchy, my body twitched. Then I started trembling, like I was getting a rush of adrenaline through my body. I tried to tell my husband what was happening, and the words coming out of my mouth were trembly, like I didn’t have enough air to get the words out. But while I felt like I couldn’t talk normally, I felt like I was having a normal conversation. I stood up, I felt weak like I couldn’t stand, so I sat down on the chair near my bed. My husband asked if I wanted to go to the ER, but I couldn’t decide. I knew my in-laws were downstairs eating dinner, and I was loathe to walk by them in the condition I was in.I was laying in bed, wailing and moaning, telling my mother that my brain was broken. That I didn’t want to BE this way, that I didn’t want to live like this. I didn’t want to be broken like this.
My husband suggested that maybe the local walk-in clinic would be better than the ER, as I would be seen faster than the ER, which is notoriously slow. But I couldn’t make a decision, I felt like my brain was frozen in place, like I had no ability to come to a conclusion on anything. So my husband said we should just go to the clinic and get a prescription for Ativan so it would calm me down. Since I couldn’t make a decision on my own, I agreed. As I lumbered around trying to find clothes to put on to go out, I felt like I was floating overtop of myself, disconnected from my body, even while I felt the trembling in my body. I had trouble putting pants on, I could barely get my trembling leg into one pant leg hole.
When I was finally dressed, I asked my husband to go have his in-laws go into a room and close the door, so they didn’t see me. I was now sobbing and shaking so hard I could barely stand. I cried and shook as my Mom tried to help me down the hall and downstairs. My husband helped me out to the car and my Mom got in the backseat. She kept rubbing my shoulders and all I could do was sob and shake. The drive to the clinic was about fifteen minutes, and by the time I got there, the trembling had slowed somewhat. I tried to compose myself enough to answer the questions for the intake, though I did cry through that, too. The guy doing the intake was actually very nice and didn’t make a big deal out of the situation.
On the other hand, the doctor I saw was pretty awful. He treated me pretty shitty and acted very pompous, basically told me I needed to get help. I told him I was already seeking help, but I couldn’t get to anyone that time of night or on that day (a holiday). That I really hated medication, but I needed to get a few pills to help me down off the cliff I was on at the moment. I don’t recall all the conversation, but my mother and husband agreed with me that the doctor was awfully crappy to me in the moment. I told the doctor I could only take Ativan, since it was something I was familiar with, but he blew me off and told me Xanex is the same thing. If you’ve ever taken either, you know that isn’t true. But he refused to order Ativan and only gave me a prescription for Xanex.
When we tried to get the prescription filled in the clinic, it was then that they told me they didn’t keep that kind of medication on site. So we had to rush off to a 24-hour CVS to get the prescription filled. By the time we were in the parking lot for the CVS, I had calmed down. When we finally got home, I was exhausted, but no longer crying or shaking.
Like I said, it felt totally different from my first panic attack, but in retrospect, it was very similar to a previous (and more recent) attack I had. It was more minor, and we did go to the emergency room. Somehow I was able to come down more quickly from that attack, before it progressed quite as far. That smaller panic attack happened while I was on the Prilosec as well.