My First Major Panic Attack…
Every day I learn about a new symptom of Lyme disease… the newest being severe panic attacks, of which I had the pleasure of experiencing in full force this weekend.
Anyone who has had a panic attack knows that it’s a terrifying feeling. I thought I had had them in my life before this but after having one on Saturday night I realized… all of the panic attacks I had had in the past were very minor compared to this.
I walked into my friend’s birthday party with J, all dressed up in my new boots & feeling like a million bucks, excited to be with everyone yet tired AF from Lyme. when it hit me. I could see a few of my best friends standing right in front of me but it felt like there was a thick film or wall between us that was holding me back from being able to speak, or see, or be in my body. It felt like the walls were closing in on me and I started to see dark black spots in front of my eyes until eventually I blacked out completely. I could hear everything around me but I couldn’t speak, I tried, but the smallest words would come out, as my heart pounded wildly out of my chest.
I tried to breathe and get my bearings. I have leaned on yoga and meditation in the past any time I feel like my breath escapes me, so I did everything in my power to try to get back to that calm and access my breath. But it all felt out of my control. I could hear what people were saying crystal clear but I felt like I was floating in outer space, with my heart beating out of my chest and blood throbbing in my ears to the point where I felt like I was going to throw up. It was truly one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
I fell into my friend’s arms and just hugged him for a long while, trying to tell him how absolutely strange I felt. In my panic I even reached for his margarita because I wanted ANYTHING to numb the crazy amount of uncontrollable panic that was coursing through my body. I thought maybe if nothing else could help then alcohol could… and if you know me, you know I have only had one drink this entire year. Alcohol is not my usual go-to.
I spotted Jonathan in the room and motioned to him to come outside with me, miraculously because words were not really coming out of my mouth. When we got out there I put his hand on my heart so he could feel how fast it was beating — it was pounding so hard and fast I knew something was very wrong. He was very worried and suggested I call my doctor… since I have recently started a bunch of new medications for Lyme and co-infections and we had no idea what might be triggering this response.
I decided to wait to talk to her until the next day, mostly because we were in a very loud place and I already felt like I couldn’t formulate words let alone a full sentence. He and I stood out there for about 15 minutes and he talked to me while I calmed down, and eventually got my heart rate down to a pace where I could at least say more than three words in a sentence. In that moment I still didn’t know if I would be able to go back inside — it was a small party, full of people I knew, but something about the way I felt made it feel impossible to stay calm and collected let alone be in the present moment, able to formulate words and hold a conversation.
On top of it all, I was exhausted. My body was in overdrive. I had spent the entire day in bed, mostly sleeping off and on and only waking up for a few hours to get a massage because of intense joint and muscle pain. I knew I was going to get myself together for the party and usually once I get out of the house I tend to feel better with the energy of others around me for a few hours, but even before we left to go out I felt that this night was different. This night my body just didn’t feel functional.
So somehow between the raging Lyme in my body, co-infections like Bartonella which can cause dysautomonia and panic, and overall just being ridiculously exhausted in a loud environment, my body flipped. My doctor also said that one of the new meds I had started may have been causing a brain herx, which would also be another culprit. Mostly it was a bacterial response from the Borrelia (Lyme) & Bartonella, plus a massive spike in cortisol and then a huge dip.
As with all difficult things that happen (I believe), it was the perfect storm of everything coming together to make for one raging, debilitating, panic attack.
I feel LUCKY that I was able to snap out of it rather quickly… we went back into the party after 15 minutes or so and for a little while I tried hard to get past it and feel a sense of calm, and while I never went back to *perfect* normalcy I was able to function a bit and have a good time, good conversations, and feel much more in my body. Although I will never forget standing out there thinking there was no way I would be able to go back in, that we would have to go home and I didn’t even know if my heart would calm down there either.
And still the feeling of that post-panic weakness has lasted for a few days. It took a toll on my body and my voice. Yesterday I was with family all day and my brother-in-law said that he knows when I am not myself because my voice is weak and my shoulders cave in… and overall I just lack the energy I am usually bouncing off the walls with when I am healthy.
To top it all off I have not been sleeping well at all even though I have been wildly exhausted. I still feel panicky and one of my major symptoms of Lyme and other co-infections is severe insomnia.
This coming weekend I have one of my best friend in the world’s WEDDING !!!! (The same person who I hugged and grabbed a margarita from mid panic attack… My other Jordan!) I am so excited to be a part of his special day. I am taking a small break from some of my meds this week because I want to be fully present and avoid any sort of brain herx / any herx during his wedding weekend.
So all in all… it’s been a wild few days. If you can relate, I would love to hear your stories/tips & tricks for dealing with it. My doctor is amazing and made me feel much better about the experience given the meds that I am on, and mostly how common it is in Lyme patients. I cannot believe all of these different symptoms I have been experiencing for years are all related back to Lyme… it is wild. And scary. Lyme is awful.
More from me soon. Love you guys so much & happy, happy Monday. XO