Hey everyone, i am 21 years old. I don't smoke, don't drink, don't do drugs, i am very active and healthy. In april of this year, i had smoked marijuana for the first time. And i smoked it for about a month, before having a panic attack after smoking a bowl one day. Haven't smoked or touched anything since then. I used to be addicted to energy drinks, for about 3 years. But in june i cut them all off, and just recently began drinking caffeine again in very moderate amounts. I work out about 4 - 6 days a week, and have been since may. I live a relatively easy life, i live by myself in my own condo, i don't work or go to school, i am not faced with any true duties other then cleaning my house.Currently, the majority of my main goals relate to Martial Arts, Power Lifting, Excersize and my band. I believe strongly in ambition, will power and the power of mind. I believe anything is possible with the proper attitude.Anyways, all is very great. But, ever since i had the panic attack in april, i've had reoccurring thoughts of death, the after life, what am i doing with my life, etc. I would get very anxious if i was doing something i felt was unproductive, like playing video games, watching a movie, etc. I would even have a hard time getting to sleep, because i was afraid that i might die in my sleep, have an outer body experience or be visited by a ghost or supernatural spirit.My body had gone completely numb and i felt as if i was having a episode of unreality a few seconds right before i had the panic attack in april, which scared me and caused me to panic. I kept seeing doctors to see if something was wrong with my body because those episode's kept reoccurring. I thought it was a heart attack, or nerve damage, i wasn't sure, i just knew i was scared for my life.Over time, i got used to it, and felt as if it was all a matter of fear. I suspected anxiety was what was wrong, because that's the closest thing to an answer i ever got from doctors since nothing was wrong with my physical health.When i was 8, i was diagnosed with bi polar, and took a large variety of medication until i turned 18. I never felt out of control before taking the medication and even while taking the medicines. I always felt as if i was acting out. But now, i am 21, and havent been on meds in over 3 years. My life has been great and my mental health has been stable since the age of 15. I do not think my current issues have a relation to my diagnoses as a child.I've had a girlfriend since october of 2011, and i used to doubt her all the time. Because she wants to marry me, and is very obviously in love with me or very close. I had cheated on her many times, and have told her everything. Yet she still accepts me for me and wants to be with me as long as she can. We've been on break since september and i have been feeling excellent. The episode's of unreality have faded substantially.Is this normal for someone my age? I've never had symptoms of anxiety like this before. I am generally a very happy, energetic and positive person. When im in a bad mood it doesnt last very long or get in the way of things. I figure i'm just at that age in life where i start thinking about where im going and what im going to do with the life that im given. i just hate thinking about everything im doing in life ending at one point, and if i die, i dont want to just fade into nothingness.
I'm going to jump straight to the diagnosis of bi-polar when you were 8. I know you don't think that this recent episode of anxiety and panic attacks are related to it, but I think it might be, in a way. To be diagnosed with bi-polar at such a young age is very rare. Most people don't get diagnosed with it until their 20's or beyond and childhood mental health illness, in particular, is a very tricky subject. If you were medicated at that age, you obviously had very extreme, noticable symptoms.
Your healthy lifestyle choices are admirable and definitely the right way to go about controlling your symptoms. I want to say well done on that- good work and keep making the right choices.
What's going on at the moment sounds like you are having a period of generalized anxiety and this may or may not be connected with your earlier diagnosis, but it may have some relevance. I'll state why I think they may be connected in the following two points.
Point One: if you have been medicated for bi-polar and then come off the medications, reoccurance of symptoms will quite likely happen within the first few years. If you were taking medication up until 3 years ago for mental health problems, your anxiety could be related to not being on them anymore. As bi-polar is a neurotransmitter related mental illness, medication helps to stabilise and re-uptake certain neurotransmitters. You may need to medicate for the rest of your life, even if it is in small doses or from time to time and not consistantly. Being on some form of anti-depressant or mood stabiliser for the rest of one's life is not uncommon with bi-polar sufferers.
Point Two: Your recent adventure with pot could have sparked off the anxiety, especially as you have previously been diagnosed and treated for a mental health illness. While not everyone suffers from adverse effects from cannabis; it is reccomended that those with a history of mental illness stay far away from it! There is some evidence that it can exaggerate mental health disorder characteristics, such as anxiety and feelings of depression. The actual panic attacks, numbness before a panic attack, the fears of death & spirits/ghosts coming to get you in your sleep- they are all characteristic of generalised anxiety disorder.
Away from your diagnosis, there could be another reason you are having panic attacks; you could simply feel unfullfilled in life and want something more. Do you do any volunteer work? If the only obligations you have on a daily basis is cleaning the house, it sounds as if you need something more- some kind of structure to your day. It's good to have goals, but if the goals are mainly self-centred ones, there can be a degree of unsatisfaction and unfullfillment in reaching them. It's as if we have no one else to impress, but our self and as humans, we need a certain amount of pleasure from others to feel it within ourselves.
I would suggest going to your doctor, suggest an anxiety disorder and tell him/her what you have written here. Medication may not be needed for this, but may be advised in the short-term. There are strategies that you can use, but at first, I would advise you keep a diary/journal on when the panic attacks happen to deduce some sort of pattern to them. Attacks can have pre-cursors and when you start to notice when they are going to happen, you can use strategies to stop them from going full-blown. Eventually, you can stop them happening completely.
For starters, look up 'cognitive-behavioural strategies for panic attacks' on Google or 'CBT for anxiety'- there may be tips that can help, until you see your G.P again.
Thank you very much. When i was diagnosed with bi polar disorder, i was diagnosed with Mania prominent. Depression was not anywhere near as severe as my Mania was. Although, i really feel like it's the unfufillment thing. I get really anxious, easily upset and i start snapping at people and finding things to be upset about if i don't have anything productive to do for the day. I've cried to my mom on the phone a few times because i feel like i need something more out of life, like i hit a plateau and im not progressing right now.That would make sense, to think about dumb things like death if im not progressing in the things i want to do right now.I've been hitting the bag a lot now when i feel stressed,The main time i get anxious now is if i allow myself to worry, or fear things and think too much. I used to be worry free, and clear thoughts were easy. No one likes fearing death or worrying at all.It's something i've been working on.The more i'd read about my symptoms or fears,The worse they would get. People told me to take my mind off my symptoms and i would forget i ever had the problems to begin with. and for a while it would kinda work, until i started thinking about it or reading things again. lol