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Was this a panic attack?

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Was this a panic attack?

Postby AFrustratingMess » Thu Jun 23, 2016 8:21 am

I know for a fact that I suffer from severe anxiety, I experience it to some extent from the moment I wake until the moment I fall asleep, and even then I can have nightmares. I've also had many panic attacks. I just want to know whether this particular event was a panic attack. Just so you know, I'm diagnosed with autism, bipolar II, and panic disorder with agoraphobia, and I've never taken any recreational drugs in my life, not even alcohol or cigarettes, I was only on Prozac at the time.

It started in class, when I began to feel even more anxious than normal, and I started feeling the familiar signs that told me a panic attack is coming. I didn't remove myself from the situation, it was an important class, but I controlled my breathing, I reassured myself that it was it was just anxiety, that it might make me feel uncomfortable, but it wasn't a real threat, all the things my psychologist had taught me.

I didn't take any medication, I thought I was going to be fine, but then it began to escalate quickly, I started sweating profusely, my heart rate went way up, but I still tried to keep my breathing under control, and reassure myself I would be okay. It continued getting worse, so I got home where I thought I'd feel safer, I quickly took some Xanax and Valium, but by then it was already out of control.

I had all the usual symptoms already - racing heart, sweaty, nausea, can't breathe, lightheaded, shaky. But I started to spasm quite violently and uncontrollably, and then it felt like there were painful jolts of electricity coursing through my body in quick and regular succession (not in sync with my heart beats), and then it felt like my body was on fire, there was this horrible intense heat inside me, and I thrashed around in my bedroom, throwing things around, screaming at the top of my voice, kicking the walls and banging my head desperately trying to get rid of the intense emotional and physical pain. I was convinced I was spiralling into death, so I scrawled a note to my parents telling them I loved them. Eventually, I guess as the Xanax kicked in, I calmed down a bit and was just curled up in bed, still incredibly anxious and crying, but the violent and physically painful symptoms went away.

Is it normal to have such violent and genuinely painful physical symptoms in a panic attack? And if it is, how do you prevent it? I feel like I did a pretty reasonable job of trying to manage the panic in its early stages using CBT and breathing techniques, in that I did what I was supposed to do, but it didn't end well. Ever since this event, I always try to carry Xanax and Valium with me, so I can stop any attack at the earliest sign, which ultimately means I end up taking lots of benzos. :| It was such a traumatic experience, it literally took me months to recover from the attack, and I had to drop out of university for the remainder of the semester, and the next semester. Was this in any way normal for panic disorder, have similar things happened to you?
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