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Newbie963
10-27-2016, 12:10 PM
Thanks for reading my message. I am new to living with anxiety, or, at least the type of anxiety that seems crippling enough to affect multiple hours of the day. I am 31, male, live in Los Angeles and have a full time job with a 45 minute commute to and from work.

My anxiety first seemed to manifest itself in the car, and mostly in the mornings. It typically occurs at specific intersections (if anyone knows LA traffic, they know what a claustrophobic nightmare it can be), when I am stopped, and there are cars all around me. At first it wasn't a big deal - I would feel uncomfortable, feel myself tightening up, but would be able to avoid anything further happening. As the car started to move, my symptoms went away a bit. However, I have now had around 4 full blown panic attacks while driving (intense heart palpitations, feelings of unreality, eyes darting everywhere, tight chest). Luckily, I have limited the attacks to lasting around 30 seconds-1 minute at a time. You can imagine how this snowballs given the fact that not only am I worried about the panic, I am driving, so there is an additional worry. Now I feel I am unable to drive to work, and I don't know if the symptoms will manifest if I am a passenger, as well. The last few days I have gone to work late, and left early in order to avoid the bulk of the traffic, and I have had some discomfort, but nothing that I can't deal with. I also seem to be fine driving at night.

Further, over the past week the anxiety has now started to spill over to the hours before I get in the car, and the hours afterward. Sometimes, now, the anxiety - but not panic attacks, yet - sets in during random hours of the day (though after about 4:00, I feel perfectly fine, and just like the person I "used to be." I wonder if I am more anxious during the day, and in the mornings especially because I feel there are many things yet to do). I have been reading everything I can about this issue, which is a double edged sword, because it keeps my focus on the anxiety.

I'm looking for a way to stem the tide. I haven't dealt with this for a long time, so part of me wonders if I am freaked out over the suddenness of it all. It feels like I went from perfectly unanxious, to nearly agoraphobic in a matter of days (I know agoraphobia is crippling and this comment isn't meant to minimize it, just to communicate the difference in attitude in a matter of weeks). I am frankly scared, though I know in my rational mind I will overcome it, I am waiting for an epiphany, or a light bulb moment to switch things back to pre-anxiety. Not too much to ask, eh? :)

BlessedBackyard
10-28-2016, 09:07 AM
Hi and welcome! If you're not already seeing a therapist, I hope you do soon, and look into some of the supplements mentioned on this site. I have agoraphobia, but before then I had panic attacks while driving...particularly when stopped at red lights or when driving on highways. When my truck stopped working, I had 2 weeks of not driving, and it turned into this agoraphobia. I don't say that to scare you and we're all different, but I'd hate for the "light bulb moment" or catalyst to do the opposite of what you're hoping. Take action now so it doesn't have the chance to get worse (not saying it would).

Relaxation techniques and calming herbal teas before driving helped me some, so I wasn't already worked up with anticipation of the drive. Books on tape were also a lifesaver, especially mysteries that kept me focused on the story instead of the drive.

I hope you find what works for you!

Ponder
10-28-2016, 02:26 PM
Hi Newbie – Your Welcome & WELCOME : )

Take heart in knowing that we all live with anxiety and that it’s not some kind of disease that needs curing. Such is just my view, although happy to say I’m not the only one that sees it that way. However in saying that, none of us wants to live with the crippling effects that come from unresolved fear and residual pain. Srry if that’s a bit vague, however a therapist and or self-reflection and assessment can help with ironing out the deeper meanings of than the definitions of whatever labels we come to find and or study.

Yep – damn traffic, intersections and all those human beings. Movement is a powerful healer – read up on movement and the brain. Makes sense as you describe what happens for you. Is why I and others like us or me are always pacing when cornered in public with no place to go and or escape.

It is good that you can still work. Many of us are unable to hold jobs due to the severity of what races around in our heads, although somewhat more complex than that. None the less your suffering is not something that is comparable to another’s as no doubt the level to which it controls you is what you have to deal with and not someone else.

To be sure, when it gets to a point that those racing thoughts control you before you get in your car; that’s a real problem. That’s when I could no longer work or even attempt to go for a job interview. Such a competitive world only highlighted my failings and drove me to wanting to be dead. Alas, this is not about me ... yet the mechanisms much the same.

YOU NAILED it with the focus on AXIETY itself. I find that is a HUGE problem in this forum. It’s an addiction and or escape without really addressing the core issues within one's self. (People don't know who they are anymore - or even those close to them) I don’t think I am the only one that sees it like that. … I advice to try and see past the LABELS. Forgive the caps … just affirming to myself as I often do.

Your write up an introduction is very well written and explains your predicament well. That alone is a step to stemming the tide.
Identifying the surface triggers really helps … the way to work, those intersections and the science behind how the chemical reactions all work can alleviate and give you the space in which to work. But I mean not the J – O – B … but more the effort in working out all the emotional “stuff” that makes us tick the way we do. Those emotions that control us more than we are supposedly meant to control it … OR the space to stem the thoughts that well and swell the way they do. Tick Tick Tick … OH I know … let’s study the surface lable again, ready some book, go see a therapist and start popping pills. Be very careful about the ANXIETY INDUSTRY and the misdiagnosis and reliance’s that come from that approach. Yet – there is much to be gained from the knowings … but more so from the intent to which we approach.

I haver rambled enough. I’m not the best person to be giving advice since I am no longer able to work. Having said that though, other than my level of ability to perform whatever tasks and or fit in with other human beings in whatever public spaces … I also have come to know the power of acceptance and also choosing to be who I be. In that respect I choose not to participate in what I choose to see. Is how I have come to see myself as less of a living illness, but operate contently in one of many realties that I choose to create. (No doubt today's definition of insanity ... lol ... yet a method I prescribe to those running about with their head cut off. :) ) To do so in a busy, noisy and oppressive world I use a lot of distractions to do so. My diary in this place being one of them … I go check into it now.

Just wanted to say Hi and Welcome and share some of what works for me. I hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for in this place. Try not to get lost in the Lables themselves. You seem to have good intuition about how it all works … despite the fears that grab the way they do. Just keeping tuning what works for you.

Dahila
10-28-2016, 04:07 PM
Welcome to the forum. Anxiety will not be cure, but when you learn how to better respond to it, your life will begin,
We all are in the same situation. People use different tool to easy the situation and in most cases it does work. My advice is; before you reach and take medication. Try to meditate, visualisation helps too. When you repeat Mantra it helps. The first step is to calm one's mind then the body follows.
It is a hard work though. Just to make you better I am dealing with it for over 50 years and it is a direct result of traumatic incidents in my childhood. Sometimes thing like losing the pet can trigger anxiety attacks and the downhill happens. You are very young and very wise so I think you can manage it:))

fixmybrokenmind
10-29-2016, 11:17 AM
It definitely sounds like you were freaked by the initial experience and are stuck worrying about it. What caused the initial outburst beyond usual?

Newbie963
10-29-2016, 11:26 AM
Hi and welcome! If you're not already seeing a therapist, I hope you do soon, and look into some of the supplements mentioned on this site. I have agoraphobia, but before then I had panic attacks while driving...particularly when stopped at red lights or when driving on highways. When my truck stopped working, I had 2 weeks of not driving, and it turned into this agoraphobia. I don't say that to scare you and we're all different, but I'd hate for the "light bulb moment" or catalyst to do the opposite of what you're hoping. Take action now so it doesn't have the chance to get worse (not saying it would).

Relaxation techniques and calming herbal teas before driving helped me some, so I wasn't already worked up with anticipation of the drive. Books on tape were also a lifesaver, especially mysteries that kept me focused on the story instead of the drive.

I hope you find what works for you!

Thanks for the reply BB. I went and saw a CBT yesterday. It was a 15 minute drive, and there were 3-4 times when I had to stop and think about just going back home as my heart raced. But I made myself do it, and felt great, "back to normal" by the time I arrived, and sitting on the couch, I felt like I used to with zero anxiety at all. The drive home was fantastic. I had the windows down and the music up. It was like it used to be. I got home and I could fully breathe again. I kept telling myself (even though I knew it probably wasn't true) "it's over. I had this success and now I can be done with it."

Fast forward a few hours, and the anxiety came back, out of nowhere, as I was walking my dog around the block. The successes seem to give a nice, temporary effect of relaxation, but maybe not lasting. I can't put my finger on it, yet.

Newbie963
10-29-2016, 11:31 AM
It definitely sounds like you were freaked by the initial experience and are stuck worrying about it. What caused the initial outburst beyond usual?

I'm not sure. There aren't any additional stressors in my life, at least obvious ones. Things are pretty much the same as they were 1, 2 years ago. What concerns me is that what started only in the car now seems to be spilling over into the rest of my life.

BlessedBackyard
11-01-2016, 04:35 AM
Thanks for the reply BB. I went and saw a CBT yesterday. It was a 15 minute drive, and there were 3-4 times when I had to stop and think about just going back home as my heart raced. But I made myself do it, and felt great, "back to normal" by the time I arrived, and sitting on the couch, I felt like I used to with zero anxiety at all. The drive home was fantastic. I had the windows down and the music up. It was like it used to be. I got home and I could fully breathe again. I kept telling myself (even though I knew it probably wasn't true) "it's over. I had this success and now I can be done with it."

Fast forward a few hours, and the anxiety came back, out of nowhere, as I was walking my dog around the block. The successes seem to give a nice, temporary effect of relaxation, but maybe not lasting. I can't put my finger on it, yet.

That's fantastic that you had some time in the car as your "normal" self! Sometimes it's easier said than done, but try not to get discouraged by setbacks. Ups and downs are definitely normal. This "up" may have only lasted a short time, but keep going, and those times will last longer and longer until you notice one day that "hey, it's been a few days, weeks, etc. since I've felt anxiety."

Are you implementing any lifestyle changes that support your health? That can make a huge difference, too.