Tag Archives: panic attack

Figuring Out Some Self-Care (or Working On My Physical And Mental Health)

I’ve been a bit too stressed out lately. A lot of it had to do with just being overwhelmed and trying to schedule myself, but that didn’t explain all of it. Reflecting back on it, I think that it’s possible that my panic and anxiety disorder came back. It wasn’t enough for me to feel like I needed to take medication or call my new therapist, but it was something I was aware of.

Like with so many other things in my life, being aware is a huge step for me and I consider that to be a win. But of course I wanted to make the stressed out feelings go away and not just be aware of it. Part of what I’ve been working on is related to my monthly challenge this month. I’m being a bit selfish and turning down invitations to things I don’t want to go to. I’m not committing myself to things that aren’t what I want to do socially and I’m not going insane when there is an event I want to go to but it doesn’t fit into my schedule. I’ve had to miss some fun things like birthday parties and baby showers because of work, but I’m not feeling guilty that I have to work because my friends understand.

Being selfish is a bit of self-care and I never really thought of that before. I think it has been a big step in my mental health although it isn’t fixing everything. But giving time to myself does allow me to think through the stress I’m feeling and figuring out what is causing it and what I can do to make it a bit better. And I know I’ve said this probably a million times, but I am also working on time management to work on my stress. I hate when I get to the end of the day and I still have so much to get done. I’m trying to work on doing stuff throughout the day and not just after work or after my workout.

But this time, I’m also working on my physical self-care too. I love to look at different beauty products, but I’m not always someone who uses them. But I decided to get a set of sheet masks from Amazon (they were pretty cheap) so I could work on my skin care. They are nice, but I look pretty creepy when I’m using them!

I’ve only used one so far so I don’t see a huge difference in my skin, but I think the mental break I get when I use those masks help too. It is time that I have to be still and relax, which I probably don’t do enough. I also found a nice new body cream at CVS on sale that I got that feels a lot more luxurious than my normal body lotion. Sometimes, it’s the little things like those that make a big difference.

I’ve been working a lot of doing these self-care things this week and I really have noticed my stress levels go down. I still need it to go down a bit more before I feel totally like myself, but I’m glad it’s getting better. I didn’t need to turn to medication (which I’d rather not use since it will make my Vyvanse less effective) and I’m not waiting it out and suffering. I’m taking action and figuring out what works. Or at least what works for me right now. I know that things will change all the time and what is working now might not work later this year. But at least I was productive in figuring out what I needed to do.

I know that this self-care is a positive step, but I still am working on how to stop the stress from getting to this level. I want to be able to stop it before it gets this bad and I start feeling overwhelmed. But as I’ve learned I have to look at the baby steps I take and not get frustrated. I can’t be expected to figure out everything right away so I need to appreciate that I figured out one small step toward figuring it all out. And hopefully next time, I’ll figure out the next small step.

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Time For Dental Work (or Maybe My MRIs Prepared Me For This)

When I went to the dentist recently, I found out that one of my fillings needs to be replaced. The filling has been in there for a long time and I knew that fillings (or crowns) aren’t forever and do need to be replaced over a lifetime. I’ve been pretty lucky the past few years. My teeth have always been a bit bad (it’s genetic) but I haven’t needed major work in a while. I’ve had lots of work done, but I’ve had a nice break and I guess that streak is over now.

As soon as I found out I needed work, my panic started. Part of that panic is because this time while they are hoping that this is just going to be a filling replacement there is a chance I will need a crown. It’s one of those situations where they weren’t going to know until they started the work and I had having unknowns in my life. But there was no way to find out what it was going to be until I had my next appointment so I tried to just deal with the sense of panic I had.

Fortunately for me, the panic wasn’t too horrible between my cleaning and the appointment to have the work done. I was panicking the day of my cleaning when I found out that there was work I needed done because that’s not what I was expecting. But I didn’t really feel panic again until the day before my appointment (and then it got pretty bad the day of my appointment). I know how bad things have been for me in the past and I just didn’t want that to happen again.

But I was trying to think about all the changes that have happened in my life since my last appointment for major dental work. I’ve been meditating for over a year now and that has been helping me stay calm in the moment (although it doesn’t seem to help the panic from building up before). That has seemed to help before with my MRIs.

And speaking of MRIs, I’ve had so many MRIs since my last dentist appointment and each of those have involved 2 needles (the blood work and then the IV for the contrast). I have been hoping that with all of those needles over the past few months that maybe my issues with needles has become less of a thing. I know that I’ve still been having blackout moments with needles in my recent blood work and IVs, but it has gotten significantly better. And since my incidents at the dentist were usually less than what I dealt with at the hospital, I was hopeful that this appointment and the needle would go a lot smoother than I feared it would go.

The day of my appointment was pretty tough. My appointment was right after I was done with work and I spent my entire shift in a panic and feeling sick. It was a sense of impending doom that I used to feel before a regular cleaning. I hadn’t had to deal with this feeling for a while, so it threw me off a bit. Fortunately, right now is the slower season for my day job so I didn’t have to help too many customers. I was still able to work, but I know that I wasn’t at my best while worrying about my dental appointment.

Once I got to the dentist, the panic was feeling pretty unbearable. I didn’t take my panic meds since they don’t really work that well when I take my eating disorder medication. And to me, right now it’s more important to manage my eating disorder than it was to stop some temporary panic. And I knew that as soon as the work started, the panic was going to go away and I would be fine.

The staff there tried to keep me distracted and calm while we waited for the dentist. They were asking me about what was happening in my life (I was telling them some of my crazy online dating stories), but I was still just anxious that the shots were coming and I wanted to get it over with. Everything in the dentist office looks so scary even though I know most things there aren’t anything that could hurt me.

Once the dentist came back, we got to the shots quickly. He does numb my cheek up with some gel before the shots so it does help a lot. And with the first shot I didn’t totally black out. But with the second shot (which I couldn’t actually feel because I was already pretty numb), I did black out like I have with my recent IVs. But it’s still a huge improvement over the last time I had to get shots at the dentist.

The last few times I’ve needed shots like this, it was for major dental work. Those appointments last quite a while and you have the option to watch a movie while they work. I should have known this would be easy when I wasn’t given the option to watch a movie but instead just had to wear protective eyewear. And this appointment ended up taking no time at all!

The drilling of the part of the old filling that had to come out took less than 5 minutes. Then they filled it back it and had to use the tools to dry it. Then it was only some checking of my bite and before I knew it I was sitting back up and rinsing my mouth out with mouthwash. The entire procedure (not counting waiting to get numb) was under 10 minutes.

I felt so silly when it was done for freaking out as much as I did. Then again, I had no clue it was going to be this simple since it seems like whenever I have more than just a cleaning it is pretty extreme. And I’m lucky that I have a dentist that is super on top of things since this could have been much worse if we didn’t catch it as soon as we did.

I still think I’m going to always have my panic issues at the dentist, but I’m glad that they are getting better. I’ve proven to myself for a while that I am doing much better with the cleanings. Now I’ve proven to myself that I can do ok with shots and bigger dental work. Hopefully I won’t need more major dental work for a while, but I know that there will be more in the future and I feel more prepared for it after this successful appointment.

Another Dentist Visit (or Panicking About Panicking)

I’ve written a bit about my issues with going to the dentist in the past. It still bugs me that I used to be completely fine with the dentist and now it’s become a huge ordeal for me. I know I need to go 3 times a year and I don’t avoid the appointments because that can lead to more issues than I want to deal with. But it doesn’t make it easier to get through each appointment.

I’ve also written about how taking Vyvanse was supposed to make my panic attacks worse. But for some reason it’s had the opposite effect for the dentist. I’m so grateful that is the case for me, but it doesn’t eliminate all the panic I feel and it’s still a bit of an ordeal for me to go.

I had my cleaning this Monday and I tried my best to be ready for it. I had plenty of teeth nightmares (thinking my teeth are falling out, have massive cavities in them, need them to be pulled out) in the month leading up to the appointment. And when I was brushing my teeth the week before the appointment I seriously thought I saw something that looked like a cavity so I was freaking out. I was dreading the bad news I was expecting to get at the appointment and just tried to get to Monday so I could get it over with.

I had my usual workout in the morning (which was a nice distraction for an hour) and several errands scheduled between the workout and the appointment. But when I was driving over to the dentist I was starting to have a panic attack. But this panic attack wasn’t about being at the dentist. This was about worrying that I would have a panic attack while I was in the middle of the appointment. I literally was panicking about potentially panicking. It wasn’t fun.

As soon as the dental hygienist came to get me, I really felt like I was about to burst into tears. I wasn’t shaking and my breathing was normal, so that was an improvement. And I let her know my concerns so she could try to get me reassured as quickly as possible.

The first thing the hygienist did was check my teeth for any damage. She takes her time doing this because she wants to give me an answer immediately if there are any issues that I should be worried. While she was looking I was pinching my arm as hard as possible to distract me from when felt like impending doom. And once she was done looking she said that everything looked fine (not even something that looks like it could turn into a cavity anytime soon) and got on with the rest of the appointment.

As soon as I got that news, all the fear and panic melted away from my body. I felt completely normal and made it through the rest of the appointment with no issues at all. Even all the stuff I hate (like the scraping stuff) was fine and I felt relaxed.

I keep joking with the hygienist that I’m ready for this panic about the dentist to end. I’m doing significantly better but I’m not back to how I was before the panic attacks started. I feel like the panic attacks are now a fear about potential panic attacks which is a bit better than panicking about the appointment itself. These are baby steps to getting over this issue and while the progress is annoyingly slow for me it’s progress.

Hopefully within the next few years dentist appointments will bring the same lack of panic as any doctor appointment for me (I only panic when I know my blood has to be drawn). Once I can treat these appointments as just a normal part of life, the better.

There is one other thing that may have made this a better appointment than in the past, but that is a story for tomorrow’s post!

The Rest Of My Maryland Trip (or More Family Time)

While the main event of my trip to Maryland was the family reunion, I also had all day Sunday there to spend with everyone. I started my day on Sunday with breakfast at Maria’s Love Point with my mom, dad, brother, and sister-in-law. I can’t speak highly enough about Maria’s Love Point. My family were the only guests there so we had some really personalized attention. We had such an amazing breakfast every day and they asked us what we liked so they could make us things we would want. Every breakfast was fantastic and I’m just glad I didn’t gain a ton of weight from the trip!

After a relaxing breakfast at the B&B, we got into the car to head over to my Aunt Susan’s house where most of the family was gathering for breakfast and family time. It was a pretty short drive from where we were staying to her house, so everyone who was there was still there when we arrived. This was the first time I had seen my aunt’s house, so I got a quick tour from my dad and then spent the rest of my time there hanging out with my cousins.

I really was just so grateful that I’ve gotten to know my cousins as adults. I’ve had the privilege with my cousins on my mom’s side, but I see them every year. It’s not really possible for me to go back east every year or for my cousins to come to CA every year so our time together is really special to me. My cousin Danny is working on his PhD right now and he and I got into some really smart conversations. He sent me a couple of papers he’s worked on and while I knew he was smart I had no idea that he was that smart!

My conversation with my cousin Rachel, Alisa, cousin Janis (Rachel and Leah’s mom) and my mom was actually about childbirth and all the craziness that goes with it. I was the only one in the conversation without kids, but it was still fun hearing everyone’s stories. I’ve heard my birth story from my mom a couple of times, but it was fun watching my cousins listening to it and having their stories to share too. And while we had that conversation, everyone was taking a turn with Alisa and Danny’s brand new baby Hendrix (he was only a few weeks old). Everyone wanted to hold him because he’s just so cute, and finally I got my turn.

Hendrix

I’m so happy that I got to meet Hendrix, but I’m sad because I have no idea when I’ll see him (or Sebastian, his older brother) next. I’ve already been bugging Alisa and Danny that they need to come out to the west coast for a trip, so hopefully they will come visit soon!

After a few hours at my Aunt Susan’s house, it was time for us all to leave. My family headed back to the B&B where it was so hot out that the only thing we could think to do is to get back into the pool.

At The Pool

As you can tell from my photo, I got a bit of a sunburn while in Maryland. Only the parts of my body that were out of the pool (including my knees) got burnt and thankfully the sunburn is starting to fade now. I tried my best to protect my skin but I’m wondering if the humidity affected how the sunscreen worked on me. And yes, that is the bathing suit that I bought for Hawaii.

The pool was perfect and we spent a long time in there just hanging out as a family and enjoying our trip. It was nice to have some relaxing time together and I’m glad that we weren’t crazy over-scheduled while we were there.

After some time in the pool, we all got ready for dinner. We went out to a restaurant that was right on the water and we had a gorgeous view from our table.

Dinner View

After a nice dinner together, we headed back to the B&B and we all started packing to get ready to leave the next morning. My brother and sister-in-law were heading to Washington D.C. the next day and my parents were meeting with some friends to go camping. I had to get back to LA to get back to work, but it was nice that we were all leaving at the same time.

The next morning, we all headed to the airport together. The train station (for everyone else) was right next to the airport and we tried to arrange all of our transportation to be around the same time. I was the first one dropped off since I was flying and had to get through security. So I said goodbye to my family and headed into the Baltimore airport for my trip home.

I had 2 flights to get home with a few hour layover in between. My first flight was pretty uneventful. I had my window seat and the flight was full so every seat was taken. I spent most of my time reading my book and taking really quick naps (I think I slept for maybe 5 minutes at a time). My layover was spent getting some lunch and doing more reading. But when I got on the plane, I discovered that my seat was upgraded a bit!

Since I booked my tickets for this trip back in January, I’ve had several flight changes for my flights home. I think at one point I was getting flight or schedule changes every day. At one point, my new flights only had a layover of 30 minutes. I wasn’t ok with that so I called the airline to change it. I guess when I changed my flight but asked to keep my original seat number I got upgraded from economy to the fancier economy section!

The section I was in was only 3 rows of seats so it felt nice and small and I didn’t feel overwhelmed or panicky at all. I had a window seat with a ton of leg room and there was nobody sitting next to me so I stretched out on the flight.

Upgrade

It was so worth it to have the slightly upgraded seat (I would have loved to have been in first class, but that wasn’t in the cards for me), and I think having the extra room in front and next to me really helped to make this flight the most calm one I can remember having. If I have the option to upgrade to the nicer economy seats in the future (which I usually can’t do since I fly Southwest), I think I’m going to splurge on it because it was so much better for my mental health. I really am so happy that my flights were calm and I didn’t even take my meds for it. This is huge progress for me and I’m hoping that future flights go just as well.

Between the drive to the airport, my flights, my layover, and the time to drive back home I had traveled for 13 hours to get back to LA. The trip was totally worth it and I wouldn’t have changed any of it, but I was happy to be home.

I really hope that these family reunions will be more often in my future. I don’t want it to be another 5 or 16 years before I see people. I really do love my family and I want to be in their lives and not just through Facebook. Hopefully some of them can come out to visit me soon or I will have an opportunity to get back east again in the near future.

Stopping A Panic Attack (or Only One Health Issue At A Time)

I’ve been pretty lucky lately with my panic attacks. I was warned that with taking Vyvanse it can make panic attacks more frequent or more severe. But I’ve almost experienced the opposite. My random panic attacks aren’t really happening right now (which I am so grateful for) and my expected panic attacks (like at the dentist) are the most mild they have ever been. I’m very happy with this side effect and it’s been really nice to not have to stress or panic about a panic attack happening.

Then the other night in the middle of the night I had a gallbladder attack. It was pretty awful, but fortunately not the worst one I’ve ever had. But they are pretty painful no matter how mild they get. I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t really see straight. My vision was going in and out (it almost felt like I was going to faint at times) and I stayed on my bed to stay safe. The pain was so uncomfortable and I couldn’t find a position to put my body in to make things feel even the smallest bit better. And I’m not sure if this is a part of the gallbladder attack or a reaction to the other symptoms, but I couldn’t stop sweating and was having trouble catching my breath.

In the past, my gallbladder attacks have brought on panic attacks. It makes sense to me because you do feel like you are dying when you are having a gallbladder attack. I really was wishing that I would pass out so that the pain could happen without me really knowing about it. I wanted it to end, but it wouldn’t. If I had a panic attack, I would have felt that it was totally normal.

But somehow, I was able to rationalize with myself in that really bad moment. I knew that it was a gallbladder attack and that it wasn’t a heart attack or that I was dying or anything. I knew that it would end eventually and when they do go away it usually is sudden for me so it could be going away any minute. And I knew that I had a choice to go to the doctor’s soon if I wanted to get my gallbladder out and never have to deal with this again (I don’t do that yet since my attacks aren’t that frequent and it’s a surgery that isn’t necessary yet).

I found a way to lay on my bed that was a safe enough position for me (I wasn’t at risk for falling off the bed if I did pass out) and I was working on focusing on my breath. I was trying to do counts for each inhale and exhale and was putting the counts in the front of my mind and not the what felt like endless pain.

Finally, the attack stopped pretty much as quickly as it came on. I tried to get as calm as I could and focus on getting back to sleep. The entire thing was about an hour long and the next morning I found it pretty funny that when I looked at my sleep tracking from my Fitbit, it was clear when the attack was happening.

Sleep Tracking

The pink lines are when I’m awake so you can see that chunk of pink in the middle of my night. That’s when I couldn’t stop moving because of the pain but you can also see that the entire night was a bit restless for me (the restless moments are the blue lines).

I know that I have the option of getting my gallbladder removed, but like I said above the attacks are pretty rare so I don’t think that surgery is a good option for me. I’ve had a couple of ultrasounds in the past and they have always told me that until the attacks are frequent enough that they are affecting my life, I don’t need to have my gallbladder out (the attacks aren’t good but they aren’t damaging my health in any other way right now). I’m just glad that my attacks are rare and they seem to be over within a few hours each time (from my research it seems like some people can have them for a day).

While it sucks that I had the attack, I’m so glad that I was able to prevent the panic attack from happening at the same time. I think that helped me get through the attack much better and I’m thinking maybe it helped it end faster than they have in the past.

Obviously I don’t want to have to go through this again, but I know realistically that it will happen again but I’m glad that somehow I was able to control the panic attack from coming and whatever skill set was in my subconscious to do that is able to be used in the future.

Replacing My Scale (or Somehow It Wasn’t A Big Deal To Me This Time)

I’ve seriously had a love/hate relationship with the scale. I refuse to look at any scale other than my own because I know that the scale might not be calibrated correctly and I’m not being weighed in the condition that I always weigh myself in (which is first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom and before I eat or drink anything). If I have to get weighed in somewhere (like at the doctor or for an Orangetheory challenge), I do blind weight where I step on the scale backwards and don’t find out what it says.

I’ve had panic attacks related to my scale. If I have to replace it, I feel like all the effort I had previously put into my weight loss is worthless because the new scale might weigh me differently than the old one. I’m aware how crazy that sounds, but panic attacks aren’t rational and that’s really what my crazy brain thinks. So I’ve gone months in the past without a working scale (which doesn’t help my panic attacks either because I’m terrified I’ve gained a ton of weight and don’t know it), or I search high and low for the exact same scale I previously owned thinking that somehow that would make a difference.

I don’t know when this issue with the scale started, but it’s been like this for a very long time. So when my scale was acting weird I got really nervous. I would step on the scale and a variety of error messages came up. But since it would eventually zero out I thought I could weigh myself. But I would get such an extreme range of weights from the scale. It could start at 375 pounds and then go down to 17 pounds and everything in between. So I knew that something wasn’t right and it needed to be fixed.

First, I changed out the batteries thinking that it would fix the issue. But even with the new batteries I had the exact same error messages (mainly it was an overload message which shouldn’t have happened because the scale is good up to 400 pounds and I’m not near that weight at all). So since the new batteries didn’t work, I immediately went on the search for a new scale and was scared that it would take a long time to be ok with a new one.

I’m shocked that I went onto Amazon, found a scale with decent ratings, and felt totally ok ordering it right then and there. Because of Amazon Prime the new scale was at my doorstep early the next morning and the old scale went immediately into the trash.

New Scale

As soon as the new scale was set up (I’m happy that it came with batteries so I didn’t have to buy them), I stepped on it. I weighed 4 pounds more than I did on my old scale, but that’s ok. That is my new current weight and as long as this scale keeps working that will be the weight that I will be working with.

It was as simple as that. No panic attacks (although I was mad that my scale broke and the company had gone out of business so I couldn’t get a replacement or any help) and I’m fine with the new scale. I don’t know what changed in my life to make this so much easier than all the other times I’ve had to do it in the past. I still plan on doing blind weights when I’m not at home, but I know that doing that will keep me from worrying what the scale says at other places or under other conditions. I wish that so many other things that cause me panic attacks or anxiety could go away for no reason like this did. So many things would be so much easier if that happened, but I know that it’s a bit of an unrealistic dream.

I’ve got a few other things coming up that have always caused me panic that I haven’t had to deal with recently (more on that in another post) and I’m cautiously optimistic that somehow they will be easier for me now. I had that experience at the dentist recently and there really is no reason for it. I’m wondering if it has anything to do with the Vyvanse dose I’m taking. It’s supposed to make my panic/anxiety disorder worse, but maybe it’s making it better?

I can only hope that that’s true.

I Support Depression Screenings (or Why Must People Shame Others?)

There was an announcement made the other day about the idea that pregnant women and new mothers should be screened for depression. When I read this, I loved the idea right away. 10% of new moms will have some sort of depression and I know that there isn’t always a lot of help that is offered right away. My friends who have had babies have said that the first few weeks after birth can be lonely because they are in their own bubble with the new baby. And if they are depressed and in that isolation, it can be a horrible combination.

I think we are all familiar with some of the horrible stories of when postpartum depression is undiagnosed and new mothers do something drastic like hurt themselves or their children. While screenings can’t prevent all of these incidents, they can help limit them. And knowing that everyone is being screened for depression may help take some of the stigma off of it for new moms.

I don’t have any children, but the idea of postpartum depression has been something I’ve thought about. I have been diagnosed in the past with depression (I still debate if that was the correct diagnosis or if it was really my panic/anxiety disorder being misdiagnosed). While I was being treated for depression my doctor asked me if I was on birth control. When I told her that I was she seemed relieved. I was told that the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy could be pretty bad for me and could make my depression worse. I did some research on postpartum depression and it seems like it’s manageable if diagnosed and treated. Now that I’m not sure if I’ve ever had depression I’m not as worried about it as I was before. But it will be something I bring up when I have kids in the future.

But if people aren’t too familiar with depression and have postpartum depression, they might not know that this is something that can be helped or fixed. And having this screening for new moms will help make sure that everyone is ok.

But after this new announcement, an author shared on Facebook her thoughts about it and it made me pretty mad.

PPD

This is a horrible statement to make. Being diagnosed with depression doesn’t automatically mean getting medication. When I was diagnosed with depression I didn’t get medication. I only got medication after I was diagnosed with panic/anxiety disorder and then it’s only medication that I take when I need it (which isn’t often). Medication is not the only way to treat depression and in fact it’s rarely the first option.

Saying that all hormonal changes are normal will make women who are suffering from postpartum depression think that they can’t get help or that doctors will ignore their symptoms. Saying that meditation, prayer, nutrition, or love will fix it will make women who don’t see results from those things feel even worse about their depression. Sometimes you need to see a doctor, sometimes you need talk therapy, and yes sometimes you need medication.

As far as I know, none of my friends with kids have had postpartum depression. But if they did, I would have supported them in any way I can. I know that mental illness is not something that you can just wish to go way. You need to get help and there’s nothing wrong with that. And hopefully anyone affected gets the help they need and get through this. Depression is something you can overcome, even if sometimes it feels like you can never get out of the hole you feel trapped in.

If you or someone you know has postpartum depression or is struggling, please reach out and get help. Help is out there for you.

Less Panic At The Dentist (or Am I Finally Over This?)

I had to go in for one of my regular cleanings at the dentist on Monday. I’ve talked about my issues with the dentist before and I hate that I’ve had this problem for so many years. I wish I could be someone who doesn’t think twice about going to the dentist and just shows up and gets the cleaning done with.

But instead, I get horrible nightmares relating to my teeth for the week or so leading up to the appointment (usually they are about my teeth falling out or having massive holes in them). And the morning of the appointment my stomach is horribly upset and my heart is racing. I feel sick until after the hygienist (who is awesome and knows how to deal with my panic attacks) tells me that there is nothing that concerns her. Then I just deal with minor stress through the rest of the appointment (she could always change her mind and see something bad with my teeth) and don’t feel stress free until I’m paying the bill (which I think is what most people get stressed about).

This appointment had to be rescheduled from earlier this month and the only time they could fit me in was in the afternoon. I usually like morning appointments so I can get it over with, but it wasn’t going to work that way for me. So I did my best to get through my day (including a morning workout at Orangetheory) and tried to not freak out too much.

Because I’m on Vyvanse (which is a stimulant), my panic medication (which is a depressant) isn’t as effective as it could be. If I was smart that day, I would have used that day as a day off of Vyvanse and just taken my panic meds. But I didn’t think things through. I took both my morning and lunchtime Vyvanse before my appointment and made sure that I was properly panic medication medicated before going to the dentist.

On a random note, I found out that one of the dental assistants at my dentist’s office isn’t there anymore. She was the one who would always call me before an appointment and remind me to take my medication. She saw me before I started taking it and she joked that she never wanted to see that crazy side of me again. I was pretty out of control at one major appointment and I know it isn’t fair for anyone there to have to deal with me when I’m in the middle of a horrible attack. But I’ve always properly medicated myself since then so I saw her reminders as just something funny and a joke between us.

When I got to the office, my heart was racing and I was shaking and sweating. It wasn’t pretty. And I had to wait a bit for my appointment which seemed to make things worse. Thankfully, when I sat in the chair I was able to relax a bit.

It does help that the hygienist changed the order of the cleaning so that it’s easier on me and my panic attacks. It’s all minor stuff she did, but it’s made a major difference for me.

And I’m shocked to report that even with the higher dosage of Vyvanse plus having taken both pill prior to my appointment that this was the easiest appointment I’ve had in years! I don’t know what changed, but I stopped panicking within a few minutes of the cleaning starting. I usually have bruises on my wrists or arms from where I pinch myself to not focus on the cleaning, but I’m bruise-free! And I’ve had appointments where after I’m done my body aches from shaking through the entire appointment. But this time I don’t know if I was shaking at all!

I don’t get why things are easier on me now. It really should be the opposite. And I’m not over my issues with the dentist because my morning was just as bad as it’s ever been. I just was able to feel normal again much sooner than I usually can.

I really hope that this is a new trend for me. If I can get to the point where I’m only panicking before arriving at the appointment, that would be a huge victory for me! I know that if I need major dental work again in the future that the panic attacks may come back stronger than ever (it was a major dental work appointment that started the attacks). And because genetically I have bad teeth it is very unlikely that I won’t need major work in the future.

But for now, I’m thrilled with the progress I’ve made so far and I’m glad that I don’t have to be back at the dentist for 4 months!

One Bad Hour (or Hating Panic Attacks And My Gallbladder)

I’ve been doing pretty well lately as far as my panic attacks go. I still have my “expected” ones when I’m going to go on a plane or have to go to the dentist. Those aren’t fun, but I’m able to prepare for them the best that I can. But I haven’t had to deal with an unexpected one in a while.

When I saw my therapist, he had asked me about my panic attacks. I had told him that I still had my expected ones, but no unexpected ones. I thought he was asking because it’s in my medical record. But it turns out that Vyvanse can make panic attacks worse. I didn’t know that, but fortunately I hadn’t experienced any issues on my original dose. And my therapist had no reason to believe that on this increased dose I would have issues.

But the other evening, not only did I have an epic unexpected panic attack, I had a horrible gallbladder attack as well.

I’ve had a history of gallbladder issues. It’s something that is in my family history and I used to have attacks every few months or so. I had an ultrasound and I don’t think they found gallstones. I was just told that if my attacks became more frequent or painful to come back and we would reevaluate. I may need my gallbladder out, but as of right now it’s staying.

But I haven’t had a gallbladder attack in a while. And I’m not sure if the panic or gallbladder attack came first, but having them together was pretty horrible. I was in incredible pain. I couldn’t find a comfortable position to be in and I was sweating like crazy. I also might have been crying but I really don’t remember. I may have passed out too because time passed that I don’t remember.

This episode lasted about an hour and honestly it was one of the worst hours I’ve had possibly ever (even worse than recovering from hip or tonsil surgery). I really debated calling 911 at times because whenever I have an unexpected panic attack I question if it is that or if it is really a heart attack or something worse. It doesn’t help that a gallbladder attack can feel similar to a heart attack as well.

Once the episode was done, I rested for a minute before trying to get up. I took a shower (all that sweating made me so gross) and then just hung out at my house the rest of the evening. I was supposed to go to an event that evening for Ms. In The Biz, but there wasn’t really a way for me to pull myself together in time (nor did I really feel comfortable driving).

Yes this sucked that I had to go through it. Panic attacks will possibly be a part of my life for forever (although they are getting better) and gallbladder attacks can be a possibility unless I get it out one day. But honestly, it was only one hour of my day and the rest of the day was pretty good (except having to miss that event). And there’s no point in letting one hour ruin everything else that was good about the day.

Even with the horrible hour I was still able to check off things on my happiness checklist for my therapist. I’m choosing to focus on those good hours and not the one bad one. Hopefully this won’t happen again for a long time, but if it does, I think I’m in a much better mindset to deal with it.

Surviving The Dentist (or Testing My Panic Meds)

Yesterday I had a cleaning at the dentist. For most people, a cleaning isn’t a big deal. But as I’ve said before, I have horrible panic attacks at the dentist due to a bad experience several years ago.

Normally, I take my panic meds and things go as well as they can. I still have issues, even at cleanings. But it’s more manageable and I’m able to move on to my day quickly after leaving the dentist (in the past, I’d need hours to decompress from it and get the stress out of my body). I’ve been taking my panic meds at the dentist for years and it has made such a huge difference.

But now that I’m on Vyvanse, things are very different. Vyvanse is a stimulant and my panic meds are a depressant. Those counterbalance each other out. I’ve been warned to not take any depressant meds while on Vyvanse since it is almost like wasting the Vyvanse for that day. So I’ve been off of my strong painkillers since starting it (since those are depressants). But I could not imagine going to the dentist without my panic meds so I figured that it was in my best interest to take them and hope for the best.

I stood outside of the dentist’s door for minutes while I tried to get my heart rate under control. I have no clue if the racing heart rate was due to the stimulant of Vyvanse of my panic.

Dentist Office

When I finally got inside, I did warn the dental hygienist about the situation. She hasn’t really ever seen how bad it can get because the entire time she’s been my hygienist, I’ve taken my meds before any dental procedures.

It was not an easy cleaning to get through. I was sweating like crazy (thank goodness I was wearing quick-dry workout clothes) and I couldn’t stop shaking. The shaking was so bad that the chair was shaking underneath me. Fortunately, that didn’t affect the cleaning and my hygienist was able to get through things quickly.

She even said that I didn’t seem any worse than I usually do. So that’s reassuring.

There is no question in my mind that the Vyvanse makes my panic meds less effective. I’m sure that the panic meds also make the Vyvanse less effective. But since I don’t think that medication is being that effective to begin with, I didn’t really feel a difference. Knowing that my panic meds are as effective does make me a bit nervous. I’m not as stressed out for known panic situations (like the dentist or flying), but I’m worried how things will be when I have an unexpected and severe panic attack.

I haven’t had a severe panic attack since starting the Vyvanse and I hope that it stays that way. I don’t want to know what it will be like with a severe panic attack. But if one happens, I guess I will just have to get through it.

But at least for now, I know that I can get through the dentist. It isn’t easy, but it’s possible.