← Return to Worrying about my heart: tests normal, but I'm anxious

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Speaking from my own personal experiences with panic attacks, I can find no pattern, no warning signs, no reason for the onset. Each attack has materialized suddenly out of no where. I got a sudden foreboding sense of darkness and fear, with a racing heartbeat and dufficulty breathing, fearing I was having a heart attack and near death. Total panic with little ability to use my brain, especially with the first few attacks when I had no clue what was happening to me. As a woman who has always been at the top of my game and able to control my world, the attacks were incredibly scary and left me wondering what had happened to my body AND my mind.

Then I saw my primary, who told me I was having panic attacks. They won’t cause a heart attack but sure make you feel you are having one. She said they are common after a major surgery, especially heart surgery. I had had a TKR two weeks before my first attack. I now carry Alprazolan to control them. I rarely need it, and I believe having it available has helped calm me and prevent some attacks. I have the greatest sympathy and empathy for anyone who has ever experienced the debilitating effects of a panic attack. Truly an ugly experience. The loss of control is terrifying.

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Replies to "Speaking from my own personal experiences with panic attacks, I can find no pattern, no warning..."

@capausz Yes, I also have empathy for people with panics attacks. I had them for 4 months every morning as soon as I woke up and thought about having spine surgery. I felt like I was stuck on the train tracks, and couldn't move and the train was coming at me. I struggled with that a long time, and then one day it occurred to me that I wasn't born fearing surgery or fearing anything. Fear is learned somewhere along the way by our experiences and how we process or can't process the experience. That was a defining moment for me, and I reasoned that if fear is learned, then it can be unlearned, and I set out to figure out how to do that with all the resources I had from my life experiences. Being a creative person, I used music and art, and even singing to help me cope, and I checked in with people I knew who had faced significant fears in their lives as an example to me of what was possible.

Fear can be defeated. With anxiety, there is a link to something frightening from the past and something about the present subconsciously triggers the memory of the fear. When you discover what that is and can process those feelings from the viewpoint of your adult life, you can understand where it came from, and think about it differently. This is what I had to do to deprogram fear. There were lot of things I did, but one of them was giving myself permission to be fearful. I learned to accept fear as a normal emotion and make peace with it to understand why I was fearful. I think of that as making friends with the fear, and then it became something that is known and understood instead of an irrational force in complete control of my life. The belief systems we have as children don't always work when we grown up, and I was still thinking about surgery like a 5 year old. I found a new way to think about it and to be grateful that I could make the choice in my life to have the medical intervention that I needed to get my life and abilities back. I know that if I didn't have the pressure of future surgery that I had to face, I probably would not have confronted my fears. My life was completely changed by doing this, and the first step toward freedom from fear is to believe that it is possible to achieve. Give yourself permission to discover and to think in new ways, and to let go of the beliefs that are holding you back.