My First Anxiety Attack – Part 2

You can read Part I of Jean-Marc’s story here.

My First Anxiety Attack - Part 2

I never actually did faint (or die as I was thinking I was going to) on the ride to the hospital, but as I got out of the car I needed help standing at first. My legs felt very weak, and all I could think of was having the doctor fix my heart. As I walked in, I remember thinking to myself “what are all these people doing here? Don’t they know I need help NOW!?!” Thinking back, it was completely irrational to think that my issue was more important than anyone else there, but I was in full panic mode. I didn’t have time to think, I needed to see someone right now or I was going to die…

It only took a few minutes for me to see a nurse, but it felt much longer. My wife told me while we were waiting to see the nurse that she didn’t think it was a heart attack; she thought I was having a breakdown because of all the stress I’d been going through. She might have told me this before, but this was the first time that I actually felt safe enough to listen to what anyone else had to say.

As we sat down with the nurse in the emergency room (yes, I had to have my wife with me, I was too scared to go alone), I described my symptoms, and she started asking me questions about how I was feeling. She had already determined that I had experienced an anxiety attack (or a panic attack). Just hearing a medical professional tell me that there was nothing wrong with me completely changed the way I was feeling at the time. Within the span of 5 minutes or less, I could breathe again, I could think, it was like I saw the world completely differently than I did earlier that day. I felt foolish for “needlessly” having disturbed other people when I was “perfectly healthy”…

I put quotation marks around needlessly and perfectly healthy because that’s just how I was feeling at the time. Thinking back now, if ever someone has an anxiety attack, it’s perfectly fine to go to the ER. The symptoms that a normal human feels at the time of an anxiety attack almost perfectly mimics a heart attack. When I told the nurse that I felt ashamed to have bothered her for this, she told me that she’d much rather tell hundreds of people that they weren’t having a heart attack than have one person who actually was having one to stay at home because they didn’t want to bother someone at the ER.

We waited at the hospital because the nurse wanted to get my lungs checked just in case. As I felt my body start feeling normal again, and my breathing regulating, I decided to just go home. I felt that there was nothing wrong with me, and I didn’t want to take up time that other people might need. My life wasn’t in danger or anything, and there was nothing wrong with my breathing, but if I had just gotten that x-ray, I would have saved myself weeks of anxiety. I would have saved myself a lot of sleepless nights…

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