The Beginning of an anxiety disorder

Health History

Panic Attacks as a Child

As a child, I would have episodes of palpitations and weakness. I would become very pale and my hands would become very cold and clammy. It would feel as if I was going to faint. I would sit down for a bit, drink something cold and slowly the feelings would go away. This would happen maybe three or four times a month. It was random.

Tourette’s Syndrome, or TICS

The other strange occurrence was a need to blink my eyes, or look up with my eyes open wide. It would come in episodes as well. Stretching my neck and flexing my abdominal muscles were other compulsions. It was exhausting, but it was infrequent. When it would come, I would sit in front of the mirror to see what the hell I was doing with my face! What did I look like while I was giving into these needs? I discovered I could do all sorts of unique movements with my eyes and lips as a result of the need to move these little muscles in my face. At that time, I thought I was just very talented. I now know that there was actually a reason I was doing this and it was associated with a “tic” disorder. This was all going on as a pre-teen and teen. I did not learn what it was until my 30’s and not from a lack of asking doctors. They just had no idea. Also, there was no internet at that time, so I couldn’t google it!

Doctors Found Nothing

I know it sounds like I was a very strange kid, walking around making faces and falling to the ground/fainting at random times, for no apparent reason. Honestly, none of it was a big deal. I went to school, had friends, received good grades and participated in all kinds of activities. The tics weren’t noticeable and the fainting sensations didn’t look too weird. I just felt bad for a little while and it went away. Nobody ever mentioned any of it, or thought anything about it. The tics went away completely for several years after high school, so that became a non-issue. The palpitations and that unwell feeling never did go away completely. My parents took me to a cardiologist at one point, to check out the heart palpitations, but no abnormalities were found. I just dealt with the sensations whenever they would hit. I assumed it had to do with my period and hormones, dehydration, or diet.

Everything continued in this manner for many years. I got married in my late 20’s, bought a house, had my first baby and everything was ok. The tics came back every now and then and the palpitations and fainting sensations, would come and go. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with my 2nd child that the sensations and palpitations worsened.

Panic and Anxiety During Pregnancy

At about 3 months into the pregnancy, I began having frequent heart palpitations and scary sensations, almost every day. All tests came back negative for any issues except iron. I was very low in iron and the symptoms I was having were very similar to the symptoms someone would experience if they had low iron. Great! It’s just low iron! I began taking iron supplements. After a few days, weeks, months, I did not improve. It got to the point where I was afraid to go anywhere by myself because I knew I was going to “feel bad”. I did not want to be by myself just in case this time, I would actually faint. The sensations had become stronger and scarier during the last few months of my pregnancy.

Finally, I was in the hospital, ready to have my baby. All of the monitors I was attached to were going haywire! My heart rate was ridiculously high, my blood pressure was low and I was feeling the same palpitations and weakness I had felt throughout the entire pregnancy. I didn’t understand why everyone was freaking out. For me, this was nothing new.

Long story short, I had an emergency C-section and was put in ICU. Many tests later for heart conditions, blood clots and all sorts of other things, I was released from the hospital. I was in perfect health and nothing at all was wrong with me. There was no explanation for what had happened in the hospital. I went home with my beautiful, healthy, baby girl.

I had no idea this would not be the end of it…

Please continue reading my story here: Hitting Rock Bottom

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