In recent months, myself and my psychiatrist have been talking about my long battle with panic attacks. After educating myself through university and CBT classes, it seems that not only do I have bipolar disorder, but I also have a panic disorder.
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder. It is different from ‘anxiety disorder’, in that it is not a persistent anxious feeling but instead bouts of intense panic. These panics come and go, and can happen at any time. After a panic attack, I spend a long time worrying about the next one and can sometimes go to extremes to avoid a situation or stimulus, knowing that I will escape an attack because of it.
Initially these attacks felt like they started from my toes, soon consuming my entire body and most usually ending in a dry heave or vomit.
Recently I feel these attacks starting within my mind. I’m not sure if it is because I am more aware of them and potentially more conscious of how they play out. Either way, they end the same. Cold sweaty palms, body trembles, tight chest and then vomit.
It is very common for psychological disorders to go hand in hand with one another. Comorbidity. I just can’t believe it has taken so long to realise that they are two separate things. I always presumed my panic attacks were part of the bipolar. An interesting detail however is that my manic and hypomanic episodes completely counteract the symptoms of the panic disorder.
I NEVER panic when I am manic.
Although I wasn’t entirely happy about another diagnoses, the label is allowing me to look at the illness categorically and find ways to manage it.
I hope that with further coaching I can combat this thing completely. It seems possible and I am excited. My thinking is that if I fully deal with one of these illnesses it will partially alleviate the other.