My first panic attack

Updated: Sep 23

It occurred on March 26th, 2020. I must be in apocalyptic movie. Not a single person in sight, it's a bit chilly outside, and barely any cars driving on the street. It was surreal on how bad the Covid-19 affected the province. I have never experienced anything like this. I grew up in Florida yet when we have hurricanes you will see a line of homes or businesses boarding their doors and windows and some owners even writing “go away” messages on their boards. Hurricanes are serious, I have been through several of them. It's scary, to say the least, but I was safe in my parents’ house as we followed the rules and escape plans in case the storm category rating increased. Seeing how strange it was, sitting on the passenger seat of the car, looking beyond the streets of Montréal, brought back that feeling of when there is a hurricane coming. At first it seemed cool but then It felt eerie how it became a ghost town. What was once a vibrant city, is now muted, abandoned, and lifeless. I can see windows from people’s homes of a rainbow drawing that says “Ça va bien aller” which means everything will be all right.

To continue, I became nauseous and I asked my boyfriend to stop somewhere so I can eat. I began munching on chips from Subway and noticed that my throat was closing each time I tried to swallow. Weird I thought; this has never happened to me before. We continued driving, I asked my boyfriend if he's having a hard time breathing? Of course, he says no but I felt my breathing was shallow. One thing led to another and I started panicking. I felt a sudden rush of emotions. The blood pounded in my ears. my heart thudded in the chest. my hands shooked. my legs trembled tingled. Vision distorted, as if i'm looking through a fish-eye lens. At that point, I was crying harder as my chest began to grow tighter. My boyfriend sped to the nearest hospital. When we arrive, I was convinced that I contracted the virus. I was so scared because when something bad is going on, my mother is always there to protect me. I was lonely, although my boyfriend was my supporter and he still is (don’t get me wrong!) But I'm a mom's girl!

We walked to the Emergency Room my legs we're giving up on me. It felt as if I did an intense workout. This is where things took a turn, it was full of sick people. My French isn’t the greatest but I felt that the triage nurse could have made an effort to speak to me in English. I felt neglected that I couldn’t communicate well enough. I had to ask my boyfriend to translate for me, and suddenly the nurse was more open to ask questions on my symptoms. As the triage nurse took my vitals his best advice for me is to relax and take deep breaths and slow your respiration. Really!? I think I have Covid-19 or a heart attack and you’re telling me to take deep breaths and slow my breathing as if that is an easy thing to do!? I was instructed to go back to the waiting room and wait for my name to be called. .As usual, I noticed all the little particulars of the waiting room.

The waiting room was crowded with ailing people, and the line extended into the street. My boyfriend did his best to distract me but it's hard. An hour goes by, I felt that my symptoms have diminished. Finally, I heard my name being called out through an intercom.

Spoke to the ER doctor and explained to her what happened. She seemed convinced that the pandemic has caused me to have an anxiety attack. I was given a medication called Klonopin. It's to be taken when panic attacks are severe. The doctor then says follow up with your family practitioner and I told her that I don't have one. So, she says to go online and search for a physician but here’s the kicker, the pandemic made it impossible for any doctors to accept new patients. I'm screwed!

I kept having panic attacks as days gone by. But eventually the panic attacks went away for a month. From May to June my anxiety has worsened. I called a doctor’s office that I would see for minor things and I was then prescribed Celexa. I took the medication for 7 weeks, and no improvement. I depended more on Klonopin to help manage my symptoms. I called the office again stating that the treatment isn’t helping so then another doctor prescribed me Effexor. I took Effexor for 2 weeks and I ended up going to the ER again because I had an intense panic attack. There I spoke to a psychiatrist and I felt that I was finally heard. I felt that she understood everything that was bugging me. I told her how intense my chest pain were, how extreme my dizziness is, and so much more. You can check out my symptoms blog entry. She assured me it's normal because I did a blood test that checks for a particular enzyme in my heart and did another ECG and those results came back negative. I felt safe talking to her, I felt that I can tell her everything and it made me feel better that she was looking at me as a person that needed help. She informed me that Effexor is a good drug however, if you want to take a medicine for temporary use it’s better to try Zoloft. She mentioned to me that Zoloft will be much easier to handle. I had intense headaches, upset stomach, nightmares, trouble sleeping with the other two previous prescriptions.

Days later, I received a call from the doctor’s office saying that they have received a full medical transcript from the psychiatrist. My luck gets better, I finally have a doctor that took me in as a new patient. I was informed to discontinue the Effexor and start with Zoloft. It has been four weeks and a world of changes…

#anxiety #mentalhealth #mentalillness


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