That’s what I have, anxiety. Sometimes it splashes into panic, but most of the time it is a humming, buzzing level of anxiety. It’s always inside me, sometimes I notice it, sometimes I can ignore it. But no matter what, it’s there, and I have it.
I’m okay to tell people I have anxiety. I can admit I have had panic attacks — at this point in time I am able to recognize two major episodes. The first one brought on by my first illness about thirteen years ago, the second one induced (I believe) by an adverse reaction I had to Prilosec. The two panic attacks were very different, which has also led me to feel confirmation that the second panic attack was due to the Prilosec I was on. Even so, yes, it was a panic attack. And yes, I went to a local walk-in clinic to get medication because I was so afraid that I was not going to recover without pharmaceutical help. The adverse side affects to Prilosec I had were varied and, well, pretty intense. I hope to never forget the whole incident, because it taught me a lot. And in this instance, Google was my friend, because it helped me find that I was not the only one having these side effects from Prilosec.
I have chronic health issues, which I will talk about another time. The onset of those health issues began in 2000, and it took years to figure out what was going on. During that period of time, I had lots of health anxiety because no one could tell me what was going on. I’m one of those people who needs to know. It’s why I pretty much live by Google. I’m learning now that Googling symptoms or researching health-related things is bad for me. I am trying to restructure my thinking to not run to Google everything. When I began to understand why I was having the health symptoms I had, my anxiety levels decreased. I understood what was happening, and even though in many cases I was unable to get rid of the symptoms, at least I knew what they were coming from. It was the unknown or unnamed that I could not handle.
For many years after my diagnoses, my anxiety was manageable, where most days I was unaware of it. I know, of course, it was still inside me, but I was living as normal a life as I could with my chronic illnesses. Then I had a traumatic event. Grief and depression began creeping up on me, and I believe it triggered some of my chronic illnesses, among which is a stomach ailment (chronic gastritis). When I went onto prescription Prilosec from my gastroenterologist, the depression got worse and the anxiety got higher. I have health anxiety, so every time I had a pain, my anxiety levels peaked…it was a vicious cycle. On top of which the adverse reactions to the Prilosec started piling up, and I had no idea where those symptoms were coming from. By this time I was seeing a therapist for the grief and depression, but when I began to have more major issues that I couldn’t identify or handle, I ended up going to the ER. I stayed for many hours, had many tests, unfortunately got a bad diagnosis for something totally unrelated, and was sent home after being rehydrated. The day after I came home from the hospital, I had the second major panic attack… I was getting an adrenaline rush, I was shaking and crying, moaning, wailing, telling family members that my brain was broken. My husband and mother helped me get dressed and into the car, where I continued to sob uncontrollably, and we sped off to a walk-in clinic. I do NOT take medication because of side effects, but when I’d been in the ER, they gave me a small dose of Ativan so I could go for an MRI (I have a fear of MRIs). Since I was in the hospital where I could be seen to if there was an adverse reaction to the Ativan, I let them give it to me. And I was okay, other than feeling sleepy and sort of…numb. So I thought if we went to a walk-in clinic, I could get two or three pills to tide me over until I could see my primary care doctor to get a prescription. However, the clinic would only prescribe Xanex, and I’d never had that before. We went to a CVS to get the Rx filled (the clinic never stocks these kinds of meds, they tell me after the exam), but I knew I wouldn’t take the pills. At the time, my paranoia and fear was too high. By the time we returned home from the clinic and CVS, I had calmed enough that I could lay down without sobbing. I think I slept, while my husband tried to contact my therapist again. He had tried before we went to the ER and after we got back, but she never responded. When we asked about medication, she told him to call my primary.
By this time, my husband was really pissed off at my therapist for being both unresponsive and unhelpful. The next day, she referred me to a new therapy office where I could be seen by both a therapist and a psychiatrist…my current state was too much for her to handle. I made the appointments with the new therapist and to see the psychiatrist, and shortly after that, began researching Prilosec. Something came together in my head that morning, telling me that my depression had started getting worse after starting the Prilosec, and so did the rest of my health. I was shocked and appalled at what I found… I talk about that in another post, because it is important on its own. I’m well aware that not everyone has the same issues I did with Prilosec, but it’s clear from the reports that many many people do…most of them without any history of anxiety or panic. And if no one talks about what could happen, others could wind up the way I did, without knowing what was happening.
This was a long first post, so I’m going to cut off here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here merely to bash Prilosec, it just so happens that it is an important link in my life and my experience.