|Panic History, Pt. 2
||[Jun. 30th, 2002|05:09 pm]
|||||Devil with the Green Eyes - Matthew Sweet - Time Capsule||]|
So, I've decided that I can't live with these panic attacks happening all the time, and need to get some help. (I think I'm getting the order of this right, but it's been a while, and as you'll see, there's quite a few steps along the way...) The first person I turned to was my trusted family doctor. I drove out to Ventura to see him, and explained what was happening to me. He decided to prescribe Xanax for me. Told me "Take this twice a day for a month. This should keep you calm and let your nervous system normalize itself again." Now, since then, I've learned some about panic attacks, how it works, and the various medications and how they work. What my family doctor did was wrong. First off, Xanax can be addictive when taken long term. Fortunately, that wasn't the case for me. Secondly, if you take Xanax long term, it's been shown that when you get off the drug, you tend to rebound, and get the attacks even worse. That was the case for me. So, now I'm worse than I was before.
My next stop is the counseling department at CSUN, the college I'm going to. The psychiatrist there sees me and prescribes the first of real medications for me to try. I wish I could remember which one it was. That would probably help me now...We tried that for a few months, and I would go back and visit the psychiatrist every couple of weeks, and tell him how things were going. Things got better, but better meant attacks once a week instead of once a day or so. Unfortunately, it was getting near the end of my the school year at this point. So, I had to find someone else to see. I decided to go back into a professional therapist. I got some suggestions from the pyschiatrist at CSUN, and found one that I could afford. Made an appointment with him. Showed up for the appointment. He wasn't there. No one was there. I went back home. A few days later, I get a call from a different psychiatrist. Turns out that the guy I was going to see died, and this one was taking over his cases. But, he wasn't as affordable as the dead guy (go figure...), so I decided to wait until school started back up.
I got through the last year of school somehow (although, I pretty much kept to myself and didn't socialize as much as I used to), but now I wasn't under the school's umbrella anymore, and couldn't afford health insurance on my own, especially with this pre-existing condition. So, after talking with my old psychologist once (from back in Ventura), I found a clinical trial going on at UCLA that was testing a different version of a drug already commonly used for panic. Of course, because it was a study, it was free. But, the disadvantage was that I had the possibility of being on a placebo. After a couple of months of slowly getting worse (attacks on average of once a day), the doctor in charge of the study and I decided that I was most likely on the placebo, and that it was in my best interest to take me out of the study. He gave me some of the actual medication (though in it's regular form, not the one that was being tested), and saw me for a little bit after that. Once again, I stablized to once a week or so for my attacks.
The doctor in charge of that study then suggested another study for me. This study wasn't testing medication. Instead, it was testing cognitive therapy for panic attacks. I joined that study, and that's where I learned the most about the disorder I was suffering from. It's also where I got the most help. While I still had panic attacks after going through the cognitive therapy, I had them less often and when they did come up, I was able to control them to a greater degree. At least, until recently...I don't know exactly what made them come back with such force, but even my congnitive therapy techniques aren't helping that much. But, I'm on health insurance (for now, see my entry "The hits just keep on coming"), and so I'm going to see a regular doctor about this, and getting medication again, to combine with my cognitive therapy techniques, and hopefully get this back under control.