This is the first post in a series written by my husband Jean-Marc about his anxiety disorder.
You can catch up on Jean-Marc’s story here:
On a hot July summer afternoon 3 years ago, I was sitting in our computer lab watching training videos. It was a normal day, nothing out of the ordinary had happened, and I was looking at the clock from time to time because, as it was Friday, I couldn’t wait to go home. I was drinking my 3rd iced cappuccino of the day, and I was feeling a little jittery. I was feeling a little short of breath, but I assumed it was just because I had been sitting a hot, windowless room for most of the afternoon. I had a constant aching pain in my chest, but I was just thinking that my mind was playing tricks on me… I mean, at 28, I was too young to be having a heart attack, right?
I left for the day at 5:30, like I normally did, feeling just a little light headed. I was thinking that I was tired and that I would relax when I got home. I blasted the Air Conditioner and started home, which would only be a 20 minute commute. When I was approximately 5 minutes away from home, I started feeling out of breath again. I kept trying to take a deep breath, but try as I might, I felt like I just couldn’t catch my breath. I started feeling afraid, what if I was having a heart attack. I got a searing chest pain, and I just jumped into panic mode. I completely lost control of my emotions. I pulled over, stood by my car for a second, and considered stopping traffic to get someone to call 911. I just then realized that I was about 5 minutes from home and talked myself into just driving the rest of the way and talking to my family.
I stumbled into the house and right away saw the look of concern on my wife’s face. I asked to be driven to the hospital right away because I taught I was having a heart attack. My wife saw right away what was happening, even though I had never before had a full blown panic attack, she could tell that I was stressed, and had lost control of my nervous system. I just couldn’t comprehend that my body was sending me fake signals. I thought I was having a heart attack and that I was going to die unless someone got me to the hospital right away. I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast that day, so I quickly ate an apple at my wife’s request. Since I was still insisting to be brought to the hospital, my mother in law drove me, with my wife sitting in the back seat. I was having such a hard time breathing at that time that I had the window down, pretty much sticking my head out of the window. I felt myself starting to slip, and asked my wife to hold my hand one last time. I thought I was dying.