I’ve kinda been wanting to write all this down anonymously somewhere and see if there’s somewhere on the internet I can find experiences of others that may be similar. I found OSMI and wonder if it’s the place.
I’ll post a summary first, then a more detailed back story, and then I have questions at the bottom.
- I’ve been having weird chest pains on and off for about 14 months.
- I THINK these are partly acid reflux, partly anxious tension, and partly musculoskeletal back/chest/neck pain moving to my chest.
- BUT they totally freak me out and I’ve got it into my head that when it happens it’s some kind of heart problem.
- I’m also really struggling with the UK lockdown and it consequences on me.
- This has lead to a few nighttime panic attacks.
- My doc has prescribed omeprazole for the acid and a low dose of sertraline.,I’ve not started taking the Sertraline yet - still figuring out if this is a good idea or not.
- I have a call this week with our community mental health people.
- I just can’t seem to break the spiral and release myself from the anxiery and catastrophic thoughts.
I should say I’m early 40’s, male, generally active and healthy, not overweight, but with a generally over-sensitive brain.
About 14 months ago, I was out running (actually walking) an errand in my neighborhood and I had a strange, mild chest pain that I’d never had before. It persisted and I felt like it was moving to my back, so I called our non-emergency health line that we have in the UK. They decided it should be checked out and sent an ambulance. My ECG was a tiny bit weird so they sent me to hospital for blood tests and more ECGs but all came back clean and they let me go.
The chest pain kind a came and went and I ended up seeing my doc who was pretty certain on it being acid reflux and prescribed me something for that. Which I took, and I’m not really sure if it helped or not. I stopped taking them when I ran out.
I think I then had a good long stretch of everything being OK. I had odd, mild pain in my chest again from time to time but, despite occasionally freaking out a bit, I mostly got past it.
Then, late last year (2020) it started to become more frequent again. Initially I decided it was more muscular. I was very tense in my back and neck and shoulders, so I sought help from an osteopath. This seemed to help somewhat. But the pain did sometimes persist.
I called the doc and he prescribed more omeprazole for the acid again. The doc seems entirely unworried about these chest pains.
However, I ended up starting to panic more about it, until, in early Jan 2021 I ended up having what I guess was a panic attack one night where my body shook uncontrollably for about half an hour.
Because the doc didn’t seem interested I called the community mental health people and they scheduled an appointment for a chat in mid-February.
In the meantime, I think the omeprazole helped a bit, but I still had twinges and aches. Sometimes I felt pain in my jaw and back too and these are symptoms of heart problems, so I was still freaking out. Until, in late Jan, I had another panic attack.
I called the doc the next day and he chatted things through with me, said that half an hour of physical shaking was pretty serious and offered me a low dose of Sertraline. I’ve picked up this prescription but not taken any yet while I research it.
I’ve been cutting out caffeine and alcohol. Not that I drank a huge amount of either - 2 cups of caffeinated coffee a day and at most a few units of alcohol a week. But I started noticing possible patterns involving them. This seemed to help me this week, but - and this is what has caused me to write this all down here - just now I had some sudden pain come on in my chest and my brain totally freaked out to the point where I just had to go and seek solitude and rest.
This is starting to become debillitating though. And despite having learned some congitive behavioural therapy and applying that tell myself the right things about what is going on, and despite using the “Calm” app to practice breathing and dealing with my thoughts, I’m really struggling to break this cycle.
I don’t know where my brain has got this idea about heart problems from. But it takes huge mental effort to persuade myself that that’s not what it is. But I still have this worry: what if I’m wrong? What if it IS a heart problem? The CBT says:
- You’ve been through this and been to hospital and been tested, your heart is fine
- Your doctor is completely unworried about your heart
- You’re SUPER low risk for heart issues
- You’ve experienced this so many times before and it’s fine, it’s just acid or muscle pain
But something in me won’t accept it. And it’s a downward spiral. Of course, the anxiety creates more tension, adding to the physical symptoms I already have.
And this is all, of course, not helped by the pandemic and lockdowns and my current situation with small children stuck at home because schools are closed and bouncing off the walls bored and anxious themselves. I’m pretty broken from all that. And, being in the northern hemisphere, I have low levels of daylight and crappy weather and thus I’m not exercising as much as I normally would.
- Has anyone else been here?
- Has anyone actually experienced a heart attack and can reassure me that “You’ll know when this is actually happening” or something?
- What are opinions on Sertraline or brain meds in general? Should I just get on these things ASAP?
- Any other help or encouragements to be offered here?
Thanks for any experiences and advice you can share.