This is untenable

I have been in a perpetual panic attack for nearly five days straight. There are things going on around me that a normal healthy functioning person would find stressful, but for me, I feel like I am literally dying or being tortured. I can’t keep living like this, I want it to change. No amount of breathing exercises, journaling, meditation, or counseling seems to help.

Why can’t I just be stressed out like normal people do? Why does it have to consume my life, where I am paralyzed and overwhelmed and unable to distract myself? It doesn’t feel fair and nothing seems to help.

I want to be able to “dislike my job” without it eating me alive. I want to be able to have friendships without feeling like I am ruining relationships simply by participating in them (another completely irrational stress that I know isn’t true, but no amount of logic makes the panic go away).

Why am I like this? I really feel like there is no hope of this ever changing or being manageable. I NEED to believe that this isn’t how my life has to be and that there is just something I am missing when it comes to finding a solution.

What do I do when none of the interventions for panic attacks work and I am riding this awful wave for several days straight? What am I not thinking of?


I’m only just a guy but I have been there and I feel A way similar to how you feel but I Can Neither confirm this will help but whatever I start Having panic attacks I start to overthink and it helps till it ends and what I love to do when I get home knowing nothing gonna change and I want just to be normal but I Couldn’t so I started to convince my self that Normal is boring that’s just my story but I thought it would help even if it was a tiny pit

The overthinking part is precisely part of my problem and does nothing to help me.

I know you meant well with your comment about normal being boring, but I don’t feel like it has to be true that in order to live a life without intense panic, the price you pay is mediocrity.

I know plenty of unique, talented, and amazing people who have healthy relationships with their stress and anxiety. I wouldn’t consider them boring at all.

Additionally, I don’t think there is anything romantic about having a now 6 day long panic attack simply because your boss is asking everyone to go into the office to work together on a project for one week. Which is part of what is happening in my case and I‘m fully aware that my level of panic is not at all a proportionate/rational response to the given stressor. I get no value out of this level of mental anguish and there have been many scientific studies that have proven that feeling stress this intensely is more likely to lessen my life expectancy and produce poor health outcomes.

I guess what I‘m hearing is that, yeah… this is just how my life is going to be and relief will only come when I die. :cry:

Hey @ruinousrapture,

You are not meant to be stuck in that for your entire life. I’d say that fearing that is understandable, but it’s also your anxiety speaking right there. So, if you can just right now, take some deep breaths. Rest assured that you have been doing the right thing by reaching out here, really. I too struggle with anxiety. Like… the type of anxiety that makes me sabotage myself because, as you said, the stress that comes with many situations feels like dying. I have used those words myself to describe how it feels to others. It’s hard to wrap our head around the intensity of those fears/stress for people who don’t experience that. But I promise that you are not alone right now, even if it’s probably a very small comfort compared to the amount of overwhelm that you might feel right now.

You’ve mentioned this in your first topic:

No amount of breathing exercises, journaling, meditation, or counseling seems to help.

Honestly, meditation and such are just not for everyone, and that’s fine. To me, well-known meditation based on breathing just doesn’t help. I was recommended to try over several times, even by doctors, but they just didn’t get that it wasn’t for me. It’s not because something seem to work for many people that it’s the case for everyone. Meditating is an INCREDIBLY stressful experience when we are prone to anxiety already. Staying still, feeling defenseless and vulnerable, facing this storm of thoughts that are spiraling over and over in our head… that experience can be too brutal for many people too, and there is nothing wrong in recognizing this. I’ve personally found help through meditation when I’ve started to read a book named “Meditations for healing trauma” (by L.Davis), which actually emphasizes the struggles of starting meditation when we are restless, somehow agitated even just emotionally, and need distractions. So if really meditation is something you’re interesting in, I would suggest to look after techniques of mindfulness instead, ones that are focused on actions and activities you do, and aim you to be more present to the reality around you.

As for the counseling, may I ask what you’ve tried? What type of therapy, and what are the things in it that didn’t seem to help? There are many ways to approach counseling. The fact that it didn’t work doesn’t necessarily mean that it wouldn’t work at all for you. Identifying the reasons behind the fact it didn’t help so far could be really useful to you.

Finally, and I hope I’m not going to scare you with this question: have you ever talked about your anxiety to a regular doctor and/or a psychiatrist, to see if medications could be an option? These are not to be considered lightly of course and I’m only asking here, not telling you to do absolutely take medications. It’s just that when everything becomes really really unberable, they can act as a crutch to you, which can help you to do the things you wouldn’t do because of your anxiety, and actually see that you can do them. It’s yet another way to help reframe your mind progressively and to practice exposure in a safe way.

Anxiety and panic attacks suck. They really do and I’m so sorry you’re struggling with this. It’s not a fatality though. It’s all about learning to cope and manage our anxiety to a level that is bearable. I have no doubt that you’ve been really trying a lot. It’s okay if your strategies need to be changed though. Again, not everything is for everyone, and seeking what works for you is always worth it. :hrtlegolove:

Thanks @Micro. I was trying to login to the forum on my computer to make responding easier, but I keep getting a message that says I ”can‘t login from that IP address“. Weird.

Regarding therapy/medication, healthcare and being supported in mental health is very challenging, and I have found my experience as a woman is more challenging than my male friends‘ experiences in getting what they need. I am in my mid-thirties and have experiences with many different doctors, HMOs/PPOs, solo practitioners, various healthcare providers and all across various state lines.

For therapy in the HMO setting, often they are so heavy on the patient load, you are seen at best 1-2 times a month. For solo practitioners, since they can’t prescribe medication, I am put in an awkward position of having to tell my PCP that my therapist recommends medication. The PCP then requires convincing and is never willing to try therapist recommendations. Specifically, in my experience, the only anti-anxiety that worked well (taken as needed) was Ativan. Now, with doctors feeling hesitant to prescribe benzodiazepines, I have yet to be able to convince one to refill that prescription. Even with my health records showing my previous doctor in CA prescribed it regularly, and a 30 day supply would last me 6 months (indicating no potential for substance abuse). I have been on several SSRIs, all of which kill my libido (creating real strain on my relationship with my husband) and overall do very little to manage my depression or anxiety (I think I have tried 6 different meds at this point).

Regarding therapy on its own, I have had about 5 different therapists since I started going at the age of 16. Often what I have found is one of two things:

  1. The counselor either oversimplifies or displays a lot of judgement language that makes me feel unsafe or only partially listened to.
  2. I will find a therapist I enjoy talking to, but nothing is improving and sessions feel more like hang outs than they do investigation and problem solving. In the end, I end up realizing that my sessions are being used as a form of intellectual stimulation for the therapist.

It‘s frustrating and time consuming. Additionally, extremely expensive. Therapists value their time so asking them to sit for an interview to determine fit is often taken offensively and results in a cost to me (usually in the form of a copay). Additionally, it‘s almost impossible (most times) to tell if someone is a good fit or helpful because the work takes time. This is also true with medication. It takes 90 days for an SSRI to build up in the system, so it takes at least that long before you have an inkling that it is helpful or not.

I‘m just so sick of riding that rollercoaster of advocating for myself and investing time, energy, and playing Russian Roulette with the medication trial periods and therapist fit… it adds to that feeling of futility. Especially after 19 years of running in that circle only to get the same set of results every time.

You know?

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