Saturday, January 22, 2011

Anxiety Attacks

I haven't shared a great deal about the primary reason I am playing hooky for a substantial portion of my senior year of high school to be treated in a residential facility. I did provide sketchy details of an attack and a somewhat threatening follow-up to that attack, which was delivered with the presumed intent of intimidating me and/or my family. The attempt at intimidation was not particularly successful. I suppose it was successful in part, because it intimidateed the he!! out of me. My parents, on the other hand, were not intimidated in the least. It made them, if anything, even more determined to follow through with the legal recourses available.I still can't share more of the specifics of the attack or its resolution because the legal aspects have yet to be finalized, but I can share a few details about my own outcome.

Shortly after the attack, I developed symptoms consistent with a condition known as "acute stress disorder." My symptoms were estreme sleep difficulty because the attack tended to happen again almost everytime I drifted into sleep. Then I developed problems associated with sleep deprivation. My doctors were more concerned with my lack of sleep than they might have been with the average patient because I still was not fully healed from my more serious fracture from last spring, and I still have growth that's supposed to happen. I'm just under 5' 1" (a measurement done laat spring was either done or recorded inaccurately), and my pediatric endocrinologit had hopes that I would reach 5'3". Both healing and growth happen during sleep.

Additionally, I began to experience anciety attacks. For each person who experiences anxiety or panic attacks, the experience is somewhat unique, but it may involve heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, light-headedness, hot flashes, cold flashes,nausea, hyperventilation, tunnel vision, and many other potential manifestations. For me, the panic attacks usually feature tachycardia, trembling, clammy skin, tunnel vision, and nausea with vomiting. They come at times when something has reminded me of the attack, but they occur at other times more randomly.

When the one-month anniversary of my violent attack came and went without any marked improvement of symptoms, my condition was reclassified from "acute stress disorder" to "posttraumatic stress disorder." In my particular case nothing changed; just the fact that a month passed and nothing changed caused the change in diagnoses.

My pediatrician and a pediatric/adolescent psychiatrist who were managing my case decided that aggressive treatment was needed in order to combat this thing. My treatment is in part pharmacological, but mostly consists of forms of cognitive therapy with some desensitization therapy. The goal is that anti-anxiety medication will not need to be a long-term part of my life.

So that, in a nutshell, is why I am in a loony bin. My next post will be at least a little bit more cheerful.


  1. There's a trick when you get tachycardia. Take the thumb and forefinger of one hand and place them on the fleshy piece of skin between your other hand and squeeze with a firm pressure for several seconds and then release.

    I have a condition called SVT, which means my heart suddenly gets lots more electricity than it needs, so I get tachycardia.

    It is controlled by drugs, but the thumb pinch does help if the condition occurs.

    You are doing remarkably well in my uneducated opinion.

    Keep it up and hopefully all will be as well as it can be. When you are a very, very old lady, you will laugh at all this. But perhaps not until then! ;o))

    Here's a message for you in Welsh:
    Cael wythnos dda. A pheidiwch â gadael i amgylchiadau malu i chi i lawr!

    To see what it says, put it into Google translate. Which is how I got it in the first place! My wife speaks and writes fluent Welsh, but I don't. The last person with any of the Welsh language in my family was my grandmother. Who was about 5' 3" in height. Average for the people of Mid and North Wales, as it happens.

  2. Thanks for the tachycardia tip. I'll give it a try next time.I'm not sure I'll ever laugh about what happened, but I hope to someday reach the point where thinking about it bores me.

  3. No. Not laugh. Unless of course you live to 300. Maybe then.

    Stuff that happened to me years ago doesn't make me laugh. yet. And I am 53.

    Mind you, I have just smiled to myself about a memory that just popped in to my head when a manager nearly killed me by his negligence!

    The expression on his face when my head wound sprayed blood all over his office window was something to behold! ;o))

    Luckily for him I was wearing a safety helmet in the laboratory workshop, so my skull was protected. (He'd left a lever bar in the top of a vertical driveshaft on a surface grinder in the workshop, and hadn't isolated it from the mains.

    Still, onward and upward, as they say!