Monday, January 14, 2013



I never had a panic attack or anxiety like this before. I had a cold that had turned into bronchitis in 2008. I began using cold medicine to keep the cough at bay and to reduce the congestion in my head. I also had been in a very aggressive weight loss contest in which I was using some weight loss pills and of course I was also drinking my normal dosage of coffee about 3 cups a day.

The truth about anxiety and panic is that many things can cause it.

There is no evidence that panic strikes a certain individual type or that people are predisposed to an attack. I had no idea what I was about to go through or how brutal it would be for me and my true story is not unlike millions of others about panic and how they deal with it.
    FIRST, know that You will be ok. I know this sounds trite but I have been there. It sucks, I know. I took the meds (they help) but you will be just fine. Really it is your mind playing tricks on you based on perceived feedback and stress responses from your body.  You will need to train yourself to not react to the trigger.  Here is my anxiety story.

My true story began with a cold in 2008. I was using cold medicine and drinking coffee and I had a dryness in the back of my throat and  a dry cough that was unproductive. I thought that taking more cough medicine would help break it up so I would be able to get that junk out of my lungs. It was just before Thanksgiving. I was having a hard time sleeping at night so I began to drink alcohol to try to help me sleep. the cold did not get any better but I had a dryness at the back of my throat that was really bugging me. I was becoming more aware of my breathing and the dry irritated feeling in my throat. As I became more aware of this dry burning sensation and constant dry cough I began to obsess on how the dryness wouldn't go away no matter how much water I drank. I was also having acute coughing spasms where I could not breath because I was coughing so hard.I was beginning to get anxiety about being able to breath and the dryness in the throat was part of it. I hated the dryness and it was associated to the endless dry cough that kept me awake at night. I was still taking cough medicine to try and loosen the dryness. Then began the sleeplessness. I would go to bed and fall asleep but immediately wake up. It was like my body wanted to sleep but would not allow itself to. This happened for a few nights. I would just start falling asleep then suddenly would become aware of my breathing, I could feel a tinge run through my body and I would completely wake myself up. It was like my body would not let me sleep. Once at this point where I could feel a physical reaction in my body to falling asleep I could not sleep again. I kept trying to sleep but would get a jolt of panic just at the moment of falling asleep. It was panic about my breathing I guess. I was hyper aware of my breathing and that ever present dryness in the back of my throat. One night after laying in bed falling asleep and immediately waking up this cycle happened and I called the advice nurse at 2:30 a.m. and told her "my body won't let me sleep, I am anxious about my breathing". I still didn't know what was really going on. I remember that feeling just at the point of falling asleep. The feeling of a jolt running through me...the feeling of fear....unnatural fear. I kept reassuring myself I was fine and everything was fine until I would lay down to sleep. Then the awareness of everything would flood over me and I would get a physical body reaction. Soon the fear of not being able to breathe was overtaken by the fear of going to bed, the fear of sleep. Because at the moment of sleep I would panic and wake up. Everytime I heard myself begin to snore it became a trigger that I was falling asleep and I would kick awake. This happened for 3 days and nights and I remember calling in to work at 2a.m. and telling the manager that I couldn't sleep and asking if I could come in and work.


I was caught in an endless cycle of panic about sleep. My body had created a trigger based on fear which I could feel as a physical bodily response of not being able to sleep and associated the physical fear response I was feeling in my body with the snoring of falling asleep. I could actually feel panic flowing through my body everytime I just began to fall asleep. I would lay down and begin to fall asleep and jump out of bed. I told my wife what I was feeling. We prayed, I convinced myself that I was ok. But the stress of this fed the panic. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with pneumonia, bronchitis and they got me on some meds. I was still having the panic attacks though. I was drinking more coffee becuase I needed help during the day. At night I took meds to knock me out. Usually after feeling the panic about falling asleep and getting out of bed and walking around and trying to relax I would fall asleep after 2 or 3 hours of this cycle. I just wanted peaceful sleep. My body would not allow me to sleep. The physical response of fear upon falling asleep jolted me out of bed until I could relax the adrenalin would keep me awake. Finally after about 1.5 weeks of this I went to a different doctor. She really spent some time with me and told me to quit drinking coffee completely. She got me a little bit of anti-anxiety medicine and said that the caffeine and the cold medicine were making me hyper sensitive and causing nervousness. Once I quit the coffee and worked through the fear response signal that was causing my body to send adrenaline through me upon going to bed I began to sleep better. I had thoughts for years after getting this cold. I had basically done it to myself but the physical response of the body was associated with an unnatural fear (trigger) and it was an endless cycle. This cycle took months to get over and even years later if I caught a cold I would get paranoid and fearful of feeling that dryness and dry cough that began it all. I feel much better now and if I get a cold I hope and pray that the dryness doesn't come with it. I have had a couple of colds since then and with each one I get more and more secure that everything is o.k. I haven't taken the anit-anxiety medicine since that first incident and time is teaching me that I can be sick and go to sleep with no problems.


Breaking the pattern is crucial. It all happens in the mind and can be worsened by cold medicines with decongestants and caffeine etc... If you are having panic attacks and the physical response caused by adrenaline remain calm. you really will be o.k. Focus on something and keep your mind occupied. Get off any and all stimulants, natural or otherwise, retrain your mind knowing that the physical response is triggered by something and begin to re-associate that mind-physical response relationship. 

There is help available for you and you will be ok. Here is an additional resource for you. This is a proven panic and anxiety help program.

 Some people are more sensitive to stimulants and avoiding any stimulant may help. I know when I drink too much coffee I get hyper aware and more nervous.

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