constant panic attacks
This is my first post on here so I hope it works!
I have GAD and am most of the time under control. I also have panic disorder which doesn’t appear to affect me most the time. But once I have a panic attack, everything seems to unravel and I am left trying to pick myself back up again and get out of the fight/flight mode that seems to riddle me after I have an attack. It feels as though another panic attack is just around the corner. These panic attacks often last for hours on end and I struggle to even function.
i am married with 3 young kids and life with husband has become rather dull. We seem to be less interested in each other and barely talk to each other unless it involves discussing the kids.
about 5 months ago I started a physical and emotional affair with another married man. This was like nothing I had ever done. Is something I never ever thought I could possibly do...but I became addicted. I did suffer pangs of guilt here and there but was so caught up in the new feelings of being wanted and heard that I was always able to override the guilt.
this weekend however, the guilt has hit me like a freight train. I don’t want to lose my husband or my children and I don’t want to break up my family. I know if I tell my husband that our relationship would be completely done. But the guilt is so heavy it makes me want to confess. In the past when having a panic attack, confessing to something I’m guilty of has helped me get over the panic... usually it’s something very silly such as a thought that popped into my mind or a tiny white lie I might have told. My husband usually laughs and says don’t worry about it. And then I can move on.
im worried that telling him this is more for my benefit of being able to confess and feel better rather than benefiting him. I know that it’s not ideal hiding this from him but to tell him would tear my family apart, and my kids and he would suffer.
im hoping I can learn to get out of the panic cycle without having a “confession” and looking for any guidance.
I know that having an affair is truly an awful thing to do and I’m sorry that I ever got into it. I’m still trying to figure out how I even got there when it is so far out my normal thinking to even consider one.
please don’t post any negativity about the affair as I already feel guilty enough and am just looking for help.
If youve come this far, Thanks for reading.
Hi there Bee
It’s not our role to judge you so don’t worry. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of and these pages are here to support and advise.
As a fellow sufferer of GAD and panic disorder for over 40 years, I was intrigued by your descriptions of your attacks. The majority of acute panic episodes rarely last more than 5 to 25 minutes but there is certainly a hangover effect that can last for hours. Have you had a formal diagnosis by a qualified health professional? I think this is an important point because if your GAD/Panic disorder is the root of your suffering, it is vital to have an accurate diagnosis so effective therapy can be commenced.
There are probably more experienced people than me to help you through the guilt of your affair but for what’s it worth I’ll have a go. My first reaction is that it’s positive that you feel the guilt (many don’t) and secondly, you regret starting the affair (many don’t). That gives us something to work with.
I’m curious, have you ended the affair and told the lover it’s over and you won’t be seeing them again? If you haven’t there is not much point in rebuilding your marriage and dealing with your guilt. If you have truly ended the affair, it is up to you only if you wish to reveal the facts to your husband.
There is a case to be made either way. To acknowledge the affair gives you a platform for remorse and forgiveness with your husband (maybe children too, depending on their age), that is be scary for a rebuild. On the other hand, this strategy carries risks. Some men (and women) may never be able to move past it and it truly is a huge threat to your marriage. Only you can make this decision, but I wouldn’t rush it. The most important thing to do is end the affair and that should help you find the energy and clear air to think about next steps. Keep posting here if you wish.
I am really in two minds about this... while I do agree that we are not here to judge and that we are here to support, I dont think you can support someone by only focusing on half the problem.
What honestly concerns me about all of this is that it feels like you are trying to find a way to not feel guilty, rather than thinking about what is right for your husband and 3 young kids. Your husband is not being given a choice in this, and he is being forced to live a lie he doesn't even know about. This isn't being negative, this is just the reality of the situation.
It is really worrying when someone claims there is a case to be made both ways. If we were talking about someone being forced to do something against their will, then it would be a clear cut case of something being wrong that immediately needs to stop, so why is this any different when there is an innocent person being forced to continue a relationship under false pretenses. It is just as wrong to force someone by omission as it is to actively force them into something against their will.
I really hope the moderators do not censor this post. Support is not always flowers & pats on the back, there often needs to be a cold hard reality for people to realize what they have done and there are no "strategies" here, innocent people have been affected and have a right to know the truth regardless of the outcome.
While I appreciate the difficulties that you are facing and the struggles that you have within yourself, and those cannot be discounted here as your well being is important as well, but someone has to speak for those who are not even aware of what is going on, someone has to think about their feelings
Thank you for your response.
In answer to your first question regarding my panic attacks, I have been formally diagnosed by my psychologist as having GAD and Panic disorder.
It is interesting you bring this up however, as when I look up symptoms of panic attacks I always notice that is states they only last for a short amount of time. Generally when I am in a state of acute panic, I shake uncontrollably and feel so ill that I end up vomiting. My thoughts are wild and uncontrollable and I feel there will be no end. Panic attacks terrify me and I think the panic attack itself then leads to more fear and panic of not being able to return to a normal state. So I am left stuck in panic mode for several hours after which I am utterly exhausted and feel as if another panic attack may just be around the corner.
The affair is no more and I won’t be seeing him again. Added to my guilt is the hurt I also caused this man.
I know for certain my husband will not accept my having been unfaithful and telling him will destroy him. And everything we have together. My children are all too young to understand.
at this stage telling him about it only feels like I’m doing it to benefit myself and be rid of guilt. I’m not even sure the guilt would go away if I did tell him, then I’ll have quite a big mess to clean up and still have the guilt I feel now and all of my family will be worse off for it.
I know for certain that if I confess my marriage will end, my family will be torn apart and lives will be ruined.
I’ve always had a belief myself that people should absolutely own up if they’ve done something wrong, however now I’m in this situation myself it doesn’t feel as easy as that.
I’m not sure in this case that confessing is actually the right thing to do if it will destroy him and my family. Obviously I am torn and this is the reason I’ve been in such a state of panic.
Great to hear back from you Bee27.
Thank you for clearing up the issue on your GAD and PD. This makes perfect sense to me now. I wish you all the best in overcoming your discomfort. I'm sure you have some positive affirming techniques to get you on top of things.
Now to your other situation. You have already shown you are the road to redemption by ending the affair (wouldn't have been easy) and expressing your regret and accepting your guilt. That shows your priority is with your family.
I fully understand AlwaysForgotten point of view, that says honesty is everything and your husband deserves to know. My own wife had an affair (we had two children) and I was deeply hurt and I would not have wanted to not know. My marriage did not survive the betrayal. I only say this because I have been in your husband's situation. The key difference in my situation to your husband is that my wife wasn't sorry, never apologised and carried on with her affair after the discovery. Had my wife expressed remorse and was able to dump her lover, I would have forgiven her and accepted her back. Your husband on the other hand has a wife who is sorry, filled with remorse and guilt and wants to save her family. For these reasons, I'm not in the camp that says you must tell, all the time regardless of circumstances.
Ultimately it is your decision and I can support whatever decision you take because I can see Always Forgotten's side as well as the other point of view. If you tell your husband and it blows up your marriage (or maybe it won't), you will have to accept the consequences.
I’m sorry to hear of your situation but greatly appreciate hearing it from your perspective. Thank you for sharing.
I have always thought that I’d want to know if my husband had an affair. But it has come from a place where I guess I wasn’t truly thinking of all the consequences and the fallout from knowing. Especially if the affair was to be over and life could go on happily without ever knowing.
I am feeling much better today and less panicky. I don’t know if you saw AlwaysForgotten’s second post last night but I was left quite shaken by his harsh words and had another panic attack afterwards.
Thank you for your kind non judgmental posts, especially when this topic would be not so easy for you to talk about. I am truly grateful!
Hi there Bee,
Wow the way you describe your panic attacks is so similar to what I experience that I almost could have written it myself. Its an awful way to live but the good news is anxiety is treatable!
May I ask if youre having continuing psychology sessions? I ask as I think it would be good to have some help from a therapist to tackle these feeling of guilt which obviously result in panic episodes. Also, if you decide you want to reveal the situation to your partner, a therapist would be able to be there with you with advice and tools on how to go about this and also be there for whatever the outcome of that may be.
Please do not feel judged Bee. These forums are here to help you manage your mental health and support you in your recovery, therefore it really doesn't matter what got you here in the first place, your wellbeing is the most important thing. You are only human and humans are flawed and err in their judgement sometimes so go easy on yourself. You are full of worry and remorse and concern for your family which suggest you are a quality soul!
Glad to hear you finally got some relief from the severity of the anxiety episodes.
Sending calm vibes your way.
im so glad there’s someone out there who experiences panic in a similar manner. Well, actually I’m not glad, they are awful! but it’s helpful to know that there is someone else out there like me.
I have had several health professionals tell me “yes it may feel as if they are lasting for hours but really panic attacks only last about 30 mins tops”.
I have had evenings where I’ve gone to go to bed and all of a sudden am hit with a panic attack out of the blue for no apparent reason. I end up getting back up and walking around a quiet house whilst everyone sleeps while intermittently heading to the bathroom to vomit. This can go on for hours and at times I’ve still been awake when everyone else wakes in the morning, so I know for a fact it’s not just half an hour that feels like it’s longer, but is in fact hours of torment.
I have seen a psychologist on and off for probably 10+ years. I seem to have an attack like I have had recently, and I will see her for several visits and then I seem to get on with life and manage my anxiety myself. I probably average a bout of these attacks once a year. Perhaps that’s telling me I should continue with sessions even when feeling well just to help maintain myself.
It’s been about 8 months since I’ve seen her but have scheduled in an appointment this week for her.
I am quietly scared of what she will say and think of me. Having seen me over such a long period of time, I think she will be shocked at my behaviour. I am usually very quiet and always put others before myself. I just don’t think she’ll even believe I am capable of doing something like this. For the most part I can’t believe it myself. It’s as if I’m watching someone else when I look back on it.
Thank you so much for your encouragement and kind words!