Are You Having Anxiety Attacks without Knowing It?

Less busy means less anxious. Anxiety comes when you have so many things to worry about. There’s the rent, water and electric bills, tuition fees, health card and other insurance fees, laundry expenses, and daily food, to name a few. And what if someone gets sick? Life is full of anxieties.

Not even the religious are spared. I’ve seen lots of church leaders grow anxious each day and end up terribly sick in life. And they’re supposed to know the peace and comfort that comes from God. Among Jesus’ basic teachings is to come to him all who are heavy laden and he will give them rest. So how come they’re all exhausted and worn out?

Mostly Anxious Over Nothing

Lots of folks today have anxiety attacks without knowing it. And the sad part is, they’re mostly anxious over nothing. This day and age have introduced us to a lot of non-essentials made to look like they’re crucial for survival. One time I saw a guy anxious because he forgot to bring his mobile phone with him—like it was the end of the world. “Expecting an urgent call from someone?” I asked. “No,” he said abruptly. “But I’m gonna miss my favorite online game!”

There are more serious anxiety attacks that make a person feel he’s dying. I see a lot of them in ERs. One time, there was a young lady at the ER who looked like she was going to die anytime. But all the doctor gave her was a brown paper bag where she breathed. Turned out she thought she was running out of breath and dying, when all she had was hyperventilation due to anxiety. She had to see that she could actually breathe and breathing through the brown paper bag also helped stop hyperventilation.

My Case

I myself had a bout with anxiety attacks (still do sometimes), and that was about 10 years ago. I had a scary heart palpitation then while kicking a Thai boxing heavy bag made of a coconut tree trunk. Yup, I was in heavy training.

The palpitation went on for hours so that later I was having hyperventilation. I didn’t understand what was happening to me so I overreacted and thought I was about to die. “What a way to die,” I told myself while trying to catch my breath in the restroom of an eatery beside a gas station in Kamuning. “And what a place to die!”

Later, I asked to be rushed to a hospital where I resigned myself to death. I just relaxed there and waited for it. Then the palpitation stopped. My BP and heart rate abruptly normalized. I was strong as a cow again right after.

However, after that, the anxiety attacks started. Everyday I felt like my last day on earth. And it went on for years. For years! I thought I had a rare disease. I went to see doctor after doctor, to no avail. They all were at a loss about what was wrong with me. They made me do all kinds of tests which all came out normal. One doctor even suggested he open up my heart just to see what was wrong in there. I stayed away from him since then.

The Only Doctor Who Knew What It was About

Finally, after years (it started when I was in college and went on after I married and had kids and finally when I was almost 50), one very young doctor finally saw it. He was son of my sister’s friend, but he was about to leave for the US and stay there. So I asked him to call me up before he left and we talked. I told him the whole story.

Then he laughed.

“I know what that is!” he said over the phone. “It’s nothing but anxiety or panic attacks due to trauma. You had trauma when you had a palpitation attack. Now you think you’re going to die.” He went on describing accurately to me what I often felt inside me and what happened back in my mind after I had that scary palpitation. “I’ve seen lots of people suffer like that during my internship due to anxiety attacks!” he added.

Here are some symptoms of anxiety attack: feeling cold and sweating too much, overwhelming fear, dizziness or feeling like you’d pass out, shortness of breath, funny feeling in the tummy aside from nausea, terrible weakness (especially in the hands and knees), trembling, feeling like you’re terribly hungry, fast and pounding heart beat, to name some.

The sad thing is that some doctors seem unaware of this and give you scary diagnosis. One ER doctor even said I was about to have a stroke any moment then. At another time, another doctor said I lost my lungs and it could be due to congestive heart failure! The things some doctors tell you!

They’d scare you just to make you undergo expensive tests you don’t need. So I advise you to get the right medical specialist for you who knows you, your medical history and medical condition. Get an honest one. Get a real doctor, not a businessman clad in white and roaming around hospitals.

“So, what’s the remedy?” I asked, somewhat relieved that I wasn’t going to die. His voice suddenly sounded serious. “You have to overcome it, kuya. You have to keep doing again what you were doing when you had the palpitation,” he said.

“You mean, train in martial arts again?”

“Exactly,” he replied. “It’s like a person who almost drowned and developed fear of water due to the trauma. The cure there is to go back to the swimming pool and swim there again.

He continued: “You have to start thinking positively. You have to believe the lab, x-ray and ultra sound results, your heart test results, your blood chemistry—which all say you have no health problem whatsoever.” It was a great advise that helped me a lot. I mean, a lot! So, I’d live to another century!

But What Really Happened?

But still, he hadn’t addressed the heart palpitation properly. Why did I have it? But I understood that he was not a heart specialist. So the search went on. What was happening to my heart that it sometimes went berserk? Was it due to physical exhaustion? People then started advising me not to do tiring works. Was it due to emotions? People then started telling me not to get too excited. So , don’t listen to people when they give you advises on how not to die. They’d kill you.

And then one day a breakthrough happened, after so many, many years.

I met the right doctor for me after a long search, going to various heart doctors (but they couldn’t help me. One even said I was just imagining things and told me to just take Valium. I stayed away from her since then. Another wanted to take out my thyroid gland all at once! I ran away from her, too, and never looked back). But this heart specialist was different. He said everything had a reason, a cause. And it’s very seldom just your imagination. “I never say that (your imagination) unless I have done the right tests and looked everything through.”

And after looking me through, he saw it: “You have supra ventricular tachycardia (SVT), and it could be resolved by ablation. Sometimes it also just disappears.” SVT is having an extra pathway where the electrical impulse of the heart makes an extra beat cycle and causes palpitation. “Other than that, you have a very normal heart,” he declared. But ablation cost P400k. So, he gave me some medication at first. Much later, he tried doing away with the maintenance meds, and by God’s grace it worked.

Since then, I felt released. Now I know my ABC, as it were. Now I understand what’s going on in me. And further research—and asking heart doctors around (and, of course, my present cardiac doctor who specializes in heart pacing and cardiac electrophysiology—I also learned that he graduated summa cum laude in medicine at UST), I know that gas in the tummy that rises up triggers my palpitation.

Sometimes, it’s just your imagination. But sometimes, too, there’s real cause behind it. So the best remedy is pray, find the right medical doctor and work closely with him or her. God also blessed me with a medical heart doctor who believes in health supplement products. I take pharma grade sodium ascorbate, apple stem cell and mangosteen supplement which are all so effective. I’ll tell you the brand name if you ask me.

Best Remedy

What’s the best way to get rid of anxiety attacks? To me, it should start with urgent prayers and deep trust in God. Then thorough medical checkup to eliminate wrong conclusions. If tests indicate problems, consult your doctor. If tests say you’re normal, then re-program your mind based on it. Be happy and stay positive. Relax. Be less busy. Most times, busyness develops inaccurate judgments in you. I swear, my being less busy and having more time for relaxation helped me a lot. Now I even help people overcome it.

Second, you should always have positive people or friends to talk to—who understand you and know what you are going through.

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