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Old 5th November 2017, 12:46 PM   #1
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Panic attacks over relationship

Hey!
So i don't know if this is the right category or what have you but I think i just need to try and make sense of my own head, so, yeah here goes...

I posted here earlier in the year, regarding my ex fiance (and mother of my son) who vanished in a puff of smoke one day leaving me with nothing but a letter. I'm not going to re write all that here (Magically reappearing ex girlfriend!) but the gist is that she had been suffering with undiagnosed bipolar and she was spiralling downhill fast but man, I couldnt tell! I didnt see it - or I didnt want to see! To cut a long story short her coming back cased a lot of conflict for me, i thought i was moved on but all she had to do was walk back through the door for me to know that i wasnt! Ultimately i ended things to my gf, which was excruciatingly hard, but it wasnt fair to her, I sure dont feel good about it but i think it was the most honourable thing i could do in a all round sh*tty situation.
And about a month later me and the ex got back together.
I guess it was always going to happen because she was and is the love of my life, and I couldn't have lived with never knowing, with not giving us a chance to work! She's a risk, i'm not blind to that, but she's a risk that, for me, will always be worth taking!

Anyway, theres highs and lows to everything but things have been mostly good! I loved her so much before but we were so young, and age gives perspective to that. I've grown up a lot, i've had to, and shes grown up a lot as well and yet, for everything thats changed its like nothings changed at the same time. She is still my best friend, that never went away, but i think i've got to fall in love with the gal all over again!
And i do love her!
Obviously its not been all roses because some friends and family didnt necessarily understand but thats just going to take time and i think most of thats settled down now, and of course its been hard for me at times because, she hurt me more than i ever knew i could hurt, and although i till seem like the same easy going guy, i actually have proper trust issues these days, so learning to trust her again didnt come over night!!
BUT, we're doing good, we were doing good...


So this bit has taken me ages to write, because the words just aren't coming very easy...
Over the last 2-3 weeks I've started to have like, what i think, what google tells me, must be panic attacks.
Like I feel really dizzy and like i cant hear, or breath, like im choking, but like i want to vomit at the same time, i dunno, and literally i'll be sweating so much I need to change my shirt!
The first time i thought i was sick, i went to bed after and thought i'd just sleep it off, but I'm not sick!
Its kept happening, not all the time (like 8 times) and only for like 5 mins, but its intense and I can't stop it!
It's when i sleep or when I'm not with her or with Fergus, my son and it'll just come out of no where!!
....but i know that ...what it is ...it's, the suicide thing. That's even so hard for me to write I can't even tell you.
I thought that letter she left me was a suicide letter, before i even opened it, the second i saw it on the side, so i guess deep down i must of known she was struggling even if i didnt admit it to myself!! Having talked to her so much about everything now shes back I know that she found herself sat in her car thinknig about doing it, and that thought scares the hell out of me, scares everything about me.........that's what i see when im sat on the floor struggling to breath or i wake up in a cold sweat, I see her, doing it, then or now im not sure, but doing it and i can't stop her, can't reach her..... and its f*cking me the hell up! Like f*cking me up!!!!!

That's not me. That's never been me. I'm a realist! I deal in realities! But I can't stop this, and for those few mins the panic is real, its all real.
I just don't understand, I want to be able to shake my head and get over it, run it off, like the advice i got from my under 18's football coach when broke my foot - and i did!
But this I can't. So i figured it'd just stop, like it started but in three weeks it hasn't so i don't know what to do with myself.

It doesnt make any sense to me why now. I coped with her leaving, i coped with raising a 1 year old by myself, a business by myself, and now we're back together and we've faced all those initial issues, and we've been really happy, so why am i feeling like this now!? wtf!

I don't even really know what im asking, just that i need to talk.. like how to stop it ...whether to ride it out, its only 3 weeks maybe it will stop, ..whether to talk to her, but it doesnt make sense to me so i dont know how to make it make sense to anyone else.
I dont want to talk to anyone else, i'd sound like a crazy person. Part of me wants to talk to her, definitely initially after i just want to call her or see her or see my son, hold him...... but most of me just wants to get over it and not have to make it a bigger deal than it needs to be! I know she still struggles a little with guilt over the whole thing, and i dont want to needlessly make that worse.

I dunno whats going on with me man!
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Old 5th November 2017, 3:11 PM   #2
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Old 5th November 2017, 3:23 PM   #3
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I'm so sorry. Panic attacks are extremely stressful.

I think, the fact that you are having panic attacks speaks to the stress that you have been experiencing recently. They often happen when you least expect it.

If you have the ability to speak with a counsellor, I would suggest that you go for a few visits as it may really help to deal with what is triggering these panic attacks. It will also help you to learn how to cope in the moment.

Best wishes to you.
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Old 5th November 2017, 4:36 PM   #4
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Panic attacks are extremely stressful.
I thought i was dying the first time, I thought it was a heart attack - and i'm a bladdy personal trainer!

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I think, the fact that you are having panic attacks speaks to the stress that you have been experiencing recently. They often happen when you least expect it.
Yeah i guess.. it just seems weird cause everything was settling down you know? Everything was good! I felt like my life was back on track.

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If you have the ability to speak with a counsellor, I would suggest that you go for a few visits as it may really help to deal with what is triggering these panic attacks. It will also help you to learn how to cope in the moment.
I guess. I guess. Its just like, like everyone i've ever run into who's a counsellor just grates on me, and thats a sweeping statement im sure theres some stand up counsellors but I just find that whole like, i dunno, enviroment hard, alien.
People said when she left me that i should go to counselloring but its just never been my way, by beliefs always been so like... you get your head down, and power through. Go for a run if you need to clear your head and then stick your best smile on and go face the world.. you know?
But none of thats working for me know. I can't seem to fight this!
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Old 5th November 2017, 10:46 PM   #5
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I read your other thread and was curious for your update.

To me these panic attacks is your brain pre-empting another possible abandonment (from her).

You didn't expect it the first time, so you were happy and then all of a sudden she leaves and hurts you deeply.

Second time it's like a repeat of the first, only your brain has a previous reference to go back to. We tend to learn from past mistakes so if you were hurt the first time, your body is now preparing you to be hurt the second time (All subconscious).

(Example: the first time you burned yourself with fire or hot oil (accidentally) you learned quickly that hurts and to stay away, but if you put yourself in that position again your body will tense up and prepare for the hurt the second time.)

That painful memory is now linked to your neural system so ignoring it and rationalising that it's "no big deal" will not make it go away.

Just like if you burnt yourself with fire the first time, you can't rationalize yourself that it won't hurt you the second time when your body knows it will.

Honestly, you need to talk to your girlfriend about this - and she needs to be the REALLY patient one this time. She may have to deal with this "consequence" to your relationship for a long time (it's not going to go away quickly).

That means she has to do more work this time to make you feel extra secure. This means through consistency, repetition, talking it about the problem and reassuring you over and over, showing you with action her love is stable and she won't just up and vanish...

Then you will eventually get over it. But it will probably take some time. She may get impatient, she may wish she didn't have to do all these things. But then again, she was the one who caused it in the first place.

But I think if you try to sweep it under the rug, it will only get worse.

In the end, love can heal any wound. Give it enough time and patience.
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Old 6th November 2017, 3:30 PM   #6
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Second time it's like a repeat of the first, only your brain has a previous reference to go back to. We tend to learn from past mistakes so if you were hurt the first time, your body is now preparing you to be hurt the second time (All subconscious).

(Example: the first time you burned yourself with fire or hot oil (accidentally) you learned quickly that hurts and to stay away, but if you put yourself in that position again your body will tense up and prepare for the hurt the second time.)

That painful memory is now linked to your neural system so ignoring it and rationalising that it's "no big deal" will not make it go away.

Just like if you burnt yourself with fire the first time, you can't rationalize yourself that it won't hurt you the second time when your body knows it will.
You know, this makes a lot of logical sense to me!! Which is super helpful and somewhat comforting to me because, I'm a black and white guy and I don't like, not understanding what the hell is going on with my own body! But that makes sense to me!

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Honestly, you need to talk to your girlfriend about this - and she needs to be the REALLY patient one this time. She may have to deal with this "consequence" to your relationship for a long time (it's not going to go away quickly).
Mmmm... I'll talk to her, I will! It's not an easy subject for me to broach really but I will chat to her.
To be honest the only person in my life i want to talk to about it is her. I'm man enough to say its bloody scary! I never understood before when people say they have anxiety or whatever that this is what they are feeling, i get it now, i feel like im dying!
But i also know its going to make her feel like horrendously guilty, which is of course not my intention, i know she already carries a lot of guilt about the whole thing..
But i can't help it, if i could just be normal, i would be!

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That means she has to do more work this time to make you feel extra secure. This means through consistency, repetition, talking it about the problem and reassuring you over and over, showing you with action her love is stable and she won't just up and vanish...
Do you reckon that's what it is? Lean on her a bit maybe?
Do you think I need to do anything particular?

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But I think if you try to sweep it under the rug, it will only get worse.
Aye true, and i guess thats a mistake that we've both made before!!

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In the end, love can heal any wound. Give it enough time and patience.
Thank you!!!
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Old 7th November 2017, 6:58 PM   #7
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It does sound like extreme anxiety that something terrible is going to happen again. Although things seem good on the surface, underneath your mind is thinking it could all fall apart in an instant because you do not trust her to hold herself together. It seems entirely reasonable to me that you do not trust her to remain stable, given what you went through.

You have a real dilemma here: you love her and want to be with her but you do not trust that she will stay in the same state of mind. Your body is trying to tell you something. Like a previous poster said, you know not to put your hand in the fire if you've burnt it once before. In this situation, your unconscious mind is telling you not to put yourself in this situation because it is risky and dangerous (or was).

On a conscious level, do you feel confident that she can handle things this time? If not, what (other than the past) makes you think she might falter? Has she shown any signs of becoming unstable?

It may be that if you talk to her, that she can reassure you and the panic feelings will go away. If this does not work, please try a therapist. They do a particular job for a reason; they are sensitive and understand that people struggle to deal with things sometimes. As you have found, just ploughing ahead does not resolve everything. You have experienced a trauma and it is coming back to you in flashes. It sounds very like PTSD. This is nothing to be ashamed of. I'd suggest you choose a therapist who has experience of dealing with PTSD.

If all else fails, maybe you need to ask yourself whether you should be in this relationship. People do not cope with uncertainty very well for prolonged periods. Sometimes the pain of a relationship can outweigh the pleasure. I can truly see what a conflict this must be creating in your mind.
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Old 8th November 2017, 3:38 PM   #8
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You have a real dilemma here: you love her and want to be with her but you do not trust that she will stay in the same state of mind. Your body is trying to tell you something.
Aye, like my conscious mind is 100% in this, that just doesnt seem to be translating to my body right now...

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On a conscious level, do you feel confident that she can handle things this time? If not, what (other than the past) makes you think she might falter? Has she shown any signs of becoming unstable?
Urmm..... I trust that she wants to, and I trust that she really believes that she can, and I feel confident enough in her that I've opened up all these doors again, back into my life, back into my sons life, I've given us another chance....but id be lying if i said i was 100% confident because, how could i be? I think that's going to take time, which is something we've spoken about.
You know i'll always be her number one biggest supporter and i don't doubt for a second her capability of achieving whatever she sets her mind too! Obviously what happened before has effected my wiliness to trust, anyone, because how could it not? But i learnt to trust my ex gf, and I think that with my gf im trusting her more and more, i think day by day i feel more secure, which is kinda why all this hit me like a bolt out the blue!

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It may be that if you talk to her, that she can reassure you and the panic feelings will go away.
Yeah, I will talk to her. I'll do it soon! I didn't want to make her feel more guilt unnecessarily, I thought this would all stop by itself but now i think its too bigger thing not to talk to her!
And I want to, she is the only person i really want to tell!

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If this does not work, please try a therapist. They do a particular job for a reason; they are sensitive and understand that people struggle to deal with things sometimes. As you have found, just ploughing ahead does not resolve everything.
Yeah.. I think i just have a bad impression, partly because although i never saw our school therapist all i ever heard was that she was such a drag, and mostly because my good friend dated a therapist for a year or so, back when Quinn left me, and omg she was just so annoying, she interfered all the time, i felt like she was judging and micro analysing every damn thing i did! I just wanted to have a beer and eat stupid amounts of Chinese food with my mate, right? And she was always there with the "and how are you doing though", "and how does that make you feeeellll", honestly? It made me 'feeellll' like I wanted her to shut the hell up!
She turned me off therapy for life

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You have experienced a trauma and it is coming back to you in flashes. It sounds very like PTSD. This is nothing to be ashamed of. I'd suggest you choose a therapist who has experience of dealing with PTSD.
I just spent a while googling this, its not something i considered because i thought this was something that effected people who had been to war or in terrorist attacks or the like..
But I do feel a lot of these thinks, like in the moment, in those 5 mins, it feels real, it feels like its happening again, and i don't feel in control because i cant stop it, i cant rationalise it...

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If all else fails, maybe you need to ask yourself whether you should be in this relationship. People do not cope with uncertainty very well for prolonged periods. Sometimes the pain of a relationship can outweigh the pleasure. I can truly see what a conflict this must be creating in your mind.
I seriously seriously considered whether going back, trying again, was the right thing to do. I wanted to but that wasn't enough, i had to believe it could work - and I do!
And now I've committed to it, i am all in! I've given every piece of me to this and to making us work, and like, im really not interested in walking away because, because i dunno - my body isn't getting on board so quickly!
I didnt take her back on a whim and i never was naive enough to think it would be easy, despite the fact i also probably didn't expect it to be this hard, but you cant get scared just cause things are hard, right!
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Old 9th November 2017, 3:06 PM   #9
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You've got to talk to her bro!!

You guys have been in this situation before, first time around, havent you! She should of talked to you and she didnt! She should of let you in BEFORE it all became too much, and she didnt!

By trying to protect her from the truth you are doing the exact same thing man!
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Old 12th November 2017, 1:00 PM   #10
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So i talked to her!
Didn't have much choice really seeing how she witnessed the whole thing..

It was the weirdest one yet tbh, because we we're getting ready to go to a good friends 30th birthday (I lost a lot of mates when she left the first time, they just didnt know how to act around me anymore, and I lost a few more when she came back, people who were her friends before but now seem to feel weird in her presence, but this couple really have been there for me throughout, through everything, they are good friends).

She went to the car for i don't even know what, and i went down stairs and then like bam, major panic attack...
I was literally sat on the kitchen floor like hypoventilating when she came in.

She was obviously a little stunned but all i really remember is her sat on the floor next to me just telling me to breath slower, and to hold her hand - i probably crushed the poor gals hand!

We talked for agesssss after, i told her whats been going on with me.
We ended up talking about the 'suicide thing' as well because, that is what i see, and what i fear
She spoke really honestly about it, about how close she came, how she drove her car super fast and enjoyed feeling that fear, how she sat in the car and almost did it, but didnt! That she really felt like we would be better off without her, that "all she did was let us down (even if i was too loyal, too kind and too full of love to even think that myself)" and "that if she was ever going to do it, end it, she would of done it then. But she didn't!! That she wanted to get out of the fog she was in but she didn't want to die"
She said she did a lot of soul searching and couldn't hide from the fact that as soon as things got tough she got running! Which is something thats really been a focus for her and something she felt she had worked on, until she came to the realisation she was still running from the only life she'd ever really wanted, with me and our boy!

I told her that I just feel, like i'm losing control, and i'm scared because i dont understand whats wrong with me!
She said "Its okay to be scared, you're human, so long as being scared doesn't stop you being who you are and doing what you love. You're scared i'm going to walk out on you again! Of course you are, no one would blame you for that! Half the town are saying it, and the other half are probably thinking it! I get it! ..I know i hurt you and yet you're giving us another chance, I don't think you know how much of a massive inspiration to me and you always have been! There's nothing wrong with YOU! You're the bravest person I know!!"

I said to her after a bit that id have to go change my shirt before we left and she was like "We don't have to go to this thing! Your mums got Fergus for the night, we can get the fire on, order a curry - i can change into my Pj's, take off these stupid shoes and we can make a fort on the sofa, binge watch stranger things and play exploding kittens... me and you. Just me and you!"

I didn't think that was right though, i just feel like we;ve got to keep going, and just try to be - normal - you know? So we went, and it was fine, it was good, but that's not really any surprise - I'm always good, right up until im sat on the floor shaking!

I do feel better for having spoken to her though, quite a lot better!! Although I know that she's really upset about it even if she woulnt say that per se!
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Old 12th November 2017, 2:56 PM   #11
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Doran, I agree with SpiderOwl that you're describing classic warning signs for PTSD. Although PTSD symptoms typically start occurring within 6 months of the trauma, it is not uncommon for onset to start later. Indeed, it sometimes starts four years later, as you are describing. The American DSM-5 calls this "PTSD with Delayed Expression." Psychologists use this subcategory of PTSD when the symptoms fail to meet the full diagnostic criteria "until at least six months after the trauma(s), although onset of symptoms may occur immediately." See DSM-5 Defining Symptoms for PTSD.

A 2011 meta-analysis (i.e., an analysis of results from numerous other studies) found that delayed PTSD occurs in about one quarter of all PTSD cases. Moreover, a 2012 study of 1,083 injured people following a fireworks disaster found that some did not experience PTSD until nearly four years later. If you would like to read more, I would suggest starting with "Delayed-Onset PTSD: What It Is and Why It Occurs" by Matthew Tull.
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Old 13th November 2017, 4:45 AM   #12
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Doran, I agree with SpiderOwl that you're describing classic warning signs for PTSD. Although PTSD symptoms typically start occurring within 6 months of the trauma, it is not uncommon for onset to start later. Indeed, it sometimes starts four years later, as you are describing. The American DSM-5 calls this "PTSD with Delayed Expression." Psychologists use this subcategory of PTSD when the symptoms fail to meet the full diagnostic criteria "until at least six months after the trauma(s), although onset of symptoms may occur immediately." See DSM-5 Defining Symptoms for PTSD.

A 2011 meta-analysis (i.e., an analysis of results from numerous other studies) found that delayed PTSD occurs in about one quarter of all PTSD cases. Moreover, a 2012 study of 1,083 injured people following a fireworks disaster found that some did not experience PTSD until nearly four years later. If you would like to read more, I would suggest starting with "Delayed-Onset PTSD: What It Is and Why It Occurs" by Matthew Tull.
Thank you, thats all really interesting stuff! I've had a little read through of those links!

Do you think, like, i dont really know how to phrase this - i haven't been to war, I havent had a near death experience, i havent had anything like that.. I feel like i cant be in the same league of suffering as those guys! Do you think what i went through would really be enough to classify?


I coped alright when she left... I mean i was totally completely heartbroken, i felt like my whole world was over.. but i got out of bed in the morning, and i cooked breakfast and played with my son and went to work and built up our business, fixed up our house and went out with our friends!
I found it harder to trust people for sure, but i still carried on, and i even got a gf and we were doing well..
...I guess i just dont understand why all this is hitting me so hard now!! ...I know some people dont understand why i got back together with her, but seriously, I'm happy with her, im in a good place, except for whats happening to me!
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Old 13th November 2017, 8:06 AM   #13
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Do you think what i went through would really be enough to classify?
None of us here on LoveShack is qualified to answer that question. Only a professional can determine whether your PTSD symptoms are sufficiently severe and persistent as to satisfy 100% of the diagnostic criteria.

I can tell you two things, however, that may cast light on your situation. The first is that the nature of the traumatic event itself does not determine whether you have PTSD. It therefore does not matter that you "haven't been to war." The only thing that matters is whether that event was experienced as being so painful as to result in strong and persistent PTSD behavioral symptoms.

The second is that, like the descriptions of 156 other mental disorders in the DSM-5, that for PTSD doesn't tell you a thing about what the underlying cause looks like. That is, the description in the diagnostic manual describes only the behavioral symptoms and says nothing about the nature of the "disorder" itself. This is necessary because scientists still have not proven what it is that causes some people to develop a mental disorder when most folks experiencing a similar trauma do not.

The result is that PTSD (like other mental disorders) is not something like chickenpox that a person either "has" or "doesn't have." Instead, it is only a description of behavioral symptoms -- i.e., symptoms that we all exhibit to some extent. This is why PTSD is said to be a "spectrum disorder," which means every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits PTSD traits to some degree (albeit at a low level if the person is healthy). At issue, then, is not whether you sometimes exhibit PTSD traits. Of course you do. We all do.

Rather, at issue is whether you exhibit those traits at such a strong and persistent level that a professional would declare it to be a full-blown disorder. Not being a psychologist and not having met you, I cannot answer that question. I nonetheless believe you can spot any strong PTSD warning signs that are present if you take a little time to learn which behaviors are on the list. Hundreds of mental health institutions believe this too. This is why they post that list of symptoms on their websites for the lay public to read.

Of course, learning to spot these warning signs will not enable you to diagnose your own issue. Although strong PTSD symptoms are easy to spot, only a professional can determine whether they constitute the full-blown disorder. Yet, like learning warning signs for a stroke or heart attack, learning those for PTSD can help you decide whether your situation is sufficiently serious as to warrant seeking immediate professional help.
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Old 13th November 2017, 4:37 PM   #14
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None of us here on LoveShack is qualified to answer that question. Only a professional can determine whether your PTSD symptoms are sufficiently severe and persistent as to satisfy 100% of the diagnostic criteria.
Yeah true true!

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The first is that the nature of the traumatic event itself does not determine whether you have PTSD. It therefore does not matter that you "haven't been to war." The only thing that matters is whether that event was experienced as being so painful as to result in strong and persistent PTSD behavioral symptoms.
Yeah okay, i get that!...
I guess maybe i'm only really accepting now she's back in my life how much the whole thing hurt me

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Of course, learning to spot these warning signs will not enable you to diagnose your own issue. Although strong PTSD symptoms are easy to spot, only a professional can determine whether they constitute the full-blown disorder. Yet, like learning warning signs for a stroke or heart attack, learning those for PTSD can help you decide whether your situation is sufficiently serious as to warrant seeking immediate professional help.
Sure sure, that does make sense!
If i'm no better in a couple of weeks then maybe i will find a therapist.... it can't hurt to try it right? I've just been so put off by the ones ive met in the past but its not fair to tar all therapists with the same brush.
I've recently brought in a chap to run yoga classes from my gym, which my gf thinks i should give a go myself, she became a big fan of the whole yoga thing out in Oz

Thanks man!!
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Old 13th November 2017, 4:40 PM   #15
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I was talking to the missus today about how i just feel a bit like I've lived right in the spotlight of a small town since i was like 15.
Even back at high school we were 'that couple', I was captain of the football team, rugby team, and swim team - the first ever triple captain! But my dad was a pro athlete back in the day so it was always kind of expected. And she was the mysterious new girl, charming, a bit of a rouge, and undoubtedly the high school crush of pretty much every guy in the school.

Back then I thought i was doing like right! Maybe i bought into my own hype! We had each other, and out son, our home our business. But life isnt like that, its so much more delicate, its not a series of check boxes. When she left i felt like my world fell apart, and all these people i barley knew wanted to give me advice, and now we're back together its like round two, for some reason people seem to act like my private life is public property, like they are all entitled to have there two pennies worth... to tell me its great we're back together, that we were meant for each other or that my ex was a great girl and im a fool to go back to my gf and
.......... and its just too much!!
I dont care, i dont want to know!
I can understand some of my family and friends being concerned and we've dealt with all that but some of these people arent even close friends, they are just people and ultimately its my life! Mine!! To live as I choose! Doesnt everyone deserve that much!

I feel like i've been under A LOT of pressure going right back to april/may and i think im just losing my mind a bit now!

Me and her have both grown up, we're both different people, but i still love her and this time around we have a shot and a real nice life, but i feel like i just need a bit of space to breath, a bit of time just me and her!!

I remember clear as day when she left me, sitting on the sofa with one of my best mates and him saying "You don't need to worry, you'll be fine, you're Jonty Jackson" but the fact is i am so so sick of being 'Jonty Jackson TM', I want to be just Jonty, Jonty down the street who you cant quite remember what he does for a living or his kids name but you say hey to him when you drive passed him on the way to work.. just to know how that feels because i can barley remember the last time it hasnt felt like open season on my life!!


Sorry for that being a bit of a rant! Its just been playing on my mind today!!
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