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Please Help - I'm having a panic attack at my desk

(23 Posts)
SophieLeGiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 09:37:15

I've been sufferring from anxiety since Nov/Dec, been treated with Citalapram since Jan and still waiting for counselling. My score on the phone-counselling assessment I had in Jan was 18 for anxiety and 14 for depression. So I started to feel a lot better and more balanced, if stuck on a plateau and not progressing much from there. My doctor suggested upping the Citalapram but that made me ravenous which was not good so I dropped it back. But the last two weeks or so I just feel awful, like the drugs stopped working altogether. I spent most of last weekend sobbing, even in front of my son sad though coped better last week. I see my GP every month and she's lovely. DH has been as understanding as he can be though it has found it hard as it's so illogical.

In short, I think my teeth are going to fall out but I'm savvy enough to know that whilst that's how it's manifesting the root cause is my job. I have had some problems with my teeth - big filling in Nov last year, dentist said my gums were bleeding a bit but didn't make a big deal out of it but it's contributed to this feeling that they're going to fall out if I use them too much so I don't eat unless I have to. When I'm feeling better I can eat so long as it's soft stuff. I don't think I'll be eating at all today sad

Cliff's notes - been here a long time, my boss is a cross between nice and a nightmare. Found a new job last summer, turned it down as DS then 18mo got sick, I got freaked out negotiating entry/exit at same time as being in hospital/doctors with DS, my company counter-offerred, I stayed. Was great for two months as we got some more staff, then the Global company did a massive "restructure" and cut 60% of the global workforce including the staff we'd hired to directly help me, plus my only other in-office support. Long story short instead of having two jobs (which came about due to natural staff loss and not being replaced), I now have 4 roles, one of which I am just not skilled for. And it's making me ill.

The office is a truly horrible place to be. Where once it was lively and enjoyable it's just a completely toxic atmosphere. My boss spends most days in his office with the door shut and his headphones on. For the last 4 weeks or so I'm lucky if he says hello to me angry I know he has his own issues and I'm sure he feels as unhappy as me but I don't see how his behaviour can help anyone? I've tried to keep it together, I've tried to be positive, I've tried barelling into his office and chatting but I can't keep it up endlessly and he never responds to any of my work unless it's to complain about it. I've tried talking to him in my 1-1s but he'll come to them and be all positive which just messes with my head. How can he not speak to me for a week then turn up at my 1-1 and be positive?

But today - I can't explain it, I was ok when I woke up and just felt more and more down as I got closer to getting to work, then halfway here I just - it's like a physical thing where it feels like my teeth are actually falling out and there you go, panic attack at my desk. Thankfully my 9am (the bastard) hasn't turned up (again) so I thought I'd pour it all out on here.

I don't even know what I want really. I just am sick of fighting everything every day. I fight to stay positive at work, I fight to maintain a relationship with my boss, I fight to get over this teeth thing. I'm just tired. And now I need another coffee but I can't risk seeing anyone on the way to the kitchen because I will blub.

notfeelinghappy Tue 23-Apr-13 10:49:14

Poor you. No expertise but sounds like you need to go back to your doctor and look again at your meds/ speed up counselling. This book is good:
Mindfulness, finding peace in a frantic world - comes with CD and might compliment the other stuff to help distract you from your anxieties. Like you say, the teeth thing has become some kind of metaphor for other anxieties perhaps? If you can transfer that attention onto something else it might help a bit - so this book might be worth a try.
Sorry you are having a horrible time at work. perhaps when you are feeling a bit stronger you can look at moving again. Have you confronted boss about the bit of your job you feel you can't do?
Good luck, hope you're feeling a bit better now the morning has progressed a bit.

Stupidlyanxious Tue 23-Apr-13 11:17:59

Hi Sophie. How are you feeling now? Hope the attack has eased/passed. I will be checking in sporadically over the next few hours if you want to chat.

SophieLeGiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 11:30:45

Hey, thanks for the replies.

I feel a bit better, I blurbed it all out up there ^ had a little sob, another coffee and then got on with my day.

I'm actively looking for work right now so got a few contacts out there and some applications in. I'm following them all up today after this morning.

I think I might need to visit my doctor again. Or maybe I could try upping the citalapram again and see if I can push through the hunger? It's just it was bad as it made me want to eat, which I found hard.

Or maybe I should take some time off? My doctor has been trying to sign me off for ages but I keep refusing. I don't know what my position would be though, signed off sick but looking for a job, surely they'd sue me?

SophieLeGiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 11:32:13

The teeth thing is a nightmare. Like I say I'm a lot better with it now usually but there are some real triggers - TV ads for toothpaste or mouthwash. There's a frigging awful mouthwash advert out at the moment that gives me instant panic attacks.

SirBoobAlot Tue 23-Apr-13 11:34:59

Some hand holding here for you.

Might be worth going back to the GP - Citalopram actually made me worse, it took a few medication changes before I found the right ones for me, so don't feel like you just have to stick it out if you want to try something else.

Have you tried any CBT?>

piratecat Tue 23-Apr-13 11:35:50

take some time off op. go to your gp and ask for help with the meds. xxx

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 23-Apr-13 11:42:45

Definitely take some time off.

I'm suffering from anxiety at the moment and it is awful. I'm a SAHM and there is no way I could be managing this at work. It is bad enough having to fight down a panic attack when I'm driving to pick DS1 up from school or something.

poozlepants Tue 23-Apr-13 11:51:52

Can you get signed off work for stress. Your work is causing you to feel like this. It is manifesting itself in the teeth thing and panic attacks. Not eating will make you worse and more anxious.
I used to have terrible panic attacks- when they were at their worst I used to be convinced I would get an allergic reaction to cetain food. I knew it was ridiculous. However in the end I just decided if I was going to be allergic it was better to eat the stuff and then someone would sort it. Of course I wasn't allergic at all.
Same with your teeth - whats the worst that can happen -if they fall out when you eat then you get them sorted. They won't of course and you know that.
Exposure is the best thing. Keep doing the thing that makes your scared and then it just seems your fear is ridiculous. Hard but it does work.

TheSilveryPussycat Tue 23-Apr-13 12:47:21

It sounds like you are all living in fear, doubt and uncertainty at work - including your boss. Of course his 1-1's are all positive atm - he is trying to keep everyone's jobs for them.

I would have been signed off with stress by now if I was you - have had to do this with my most recent job sad, which I ended up leaving. But I am ok financially and a lot older than you, Dc grown and gone.

I am a BabyBoomer and have Babyboomer's teeth (lots of sweets in childhood, no flouride in the water) - I have had to come to terms with (some) new for old teeth, which was a pain but what else could I do?

But yours sounds more like a mh symptom. Sending warm wishes x

SophieLeGiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 13:05:32

It's CBT I'm waiting for sirboob I have private health insurance through work but I've been finding it impossble to pick up the phone and see if I can get it through that.

But if I take time off won't it affect both my ability to get another job and look for another job? As I'd have to disclose it?

poozle - the confronting it thing is what I've been doing since the citalapram kicked in. Feb-April I felt pretty great. Balanced, on top of things at work and at home. It's just this last 2-3 weeks I feel like a crazy person again, if less desperate than previoiusly when I was very ill. I've managed to start running again (a bit) - I stopped because I convinced myself the action of running would make my teeth loose blush

My boss is weird - I can't work out if he's trying to make me leave but then he'd have no staff. Or if he's trying to make my feel so awful I won't have the confidence to leave? Or perhaps more likely he isn't thinking of me at all but just in his own painful world. I have alluded to him casually that I am receiving treatment but haven't spelled it out and I haven't spoken to HR at all. HR are not known for their sympathy when staff become long-term ill angry

I'm forcing myself to eat a sandwich right now, a big, chewy hard to eat one. Interestingly, I do not have issues eating cake grin well - so long as it's sponge without any bits and I don't have to chew it. And I recently discovered I can eat biscuits so long as they are dipped in hot tea.

Stupidlyanxious Tue 23-Apr-13 13:28:45

Well done for eating that sandwich! I woukd honestly consider taking some time off. Your health will thank you for it I'm sure.

SophieLeGiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 13:35:25

It's hard. First half went down ok, hungry I guess. But now I'm all squirmy and breathless.
sad

poozlepants Tue 23-Apr-13 13:54:49

You could of course start making all your food in cake form. Carrot and courgette. Semolina and chocolate.
Have you tried hypnotherapy. I found it really good. You need to find a really good therapist that treats severe phobias/panic.
There are always set backs with panic disorders. Thing is not to treat them as though you are back to square one. They are merely blips.
Which came first your panic attacks or your depression? With me it was the panic disorder leading to me being depressed.If my GP hadn't been the most useless Gp on the planet and I'd known more about it I would've asked for something like beta blockers to stop the panic attacks when they started to stop the cycle.

TheSilveryPussycat Tue 23-Apr-13 13:59:35

Sometimes cake was v helpful, when I was a) feeling down or b) when I lost my partial lower denture after Christmas, and really could physically only manage soft food. Those tins of beans with sausages were good too.

Sorry if this is triggering, just to say that somehow you are doing the right things, but for a situation that hasn't arisen (yet, if it ever does)

SophieLeGiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 14:02:23

My GP has been faultless, we talked about beta blockers right at the beginning but we both thought the key problem was the anxiety and the need to get that under control to get me thinking straight. She was right once I was thinking quickly I realised I could at least eat smooth/soft things - prior to that I just stopped eating altogether, or ate without chewing, which did not work so well hmm

So this is just a blip because I've had a spectacularly bad couple of weeks at work? That actually helps a lot, to know it might just be a blip.

Food in cake form sounds awesome - I already make some pretty amazing courgette and cheese or carrot and cheese muffins for DS but I'd never thought of doing them for myself! It's actually vegetables which are hardest because of the crunchy texture and yield you get when you chew <shiver just writing that down>

SophieLeGiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 14:02:57

Sorry silvery that actually really was triggering.

TheSilveryPussycat Tue 23-Apr-13 14:03:57

Would you like me to ask for it to be withdrawn, Sophie?

SophieLeGiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 14:09:29

It's ok I just won't look at it again. It's not your fault I just can't cope at all with the thought that my teeth might fall out and this would be what I'd have to do. I can't even walk past my surgery, or even really read that word, or associated words or watch commercials or anything.

When I saw my Dad in Jan when I was really bad I could hardly look at him as he's missing a few teeth and I bloody love my Dad.

TheSilveryPussycat Tue 23-Apr-13 14:33:34

Just to reassure you, I can eat practically anything I want to, especially cake.

Of course, it may not be your jobs that your manager is thinking of - but his own.

I imagine, if you are like me, there is some angry under all the rest of it sad

SophieLeGiraffe Tue 23-Apr-13 16:40:29

Lots of anger going on don't you worry!

veryberrybug Sun 28-Apr-13 01:34:19

'scuse me butting in, i've experience with anxiety since in mental hospital with it for 6 weeks about 6yrs ago when rapid change of meds made me bonkers! the teeth thing is a way the anxiety manages to manifest itself i think, not the problem (though it seems like it). anyhoo, managing anxiety - it gets easier but you can do a lot to make this happen. CBT: at first i thought "what's the difference in me? pffft" hmm but i look back & realise i internalised stuff that really helps, like challenging catastrophic thinking. i still get it but catch it so much quicker, before it's gone spiralling out of control. try to eat regularily & cut caffeine - i was biggest tea jeanie but now herbal is my way (cheesey but true, last week i accidentally drank 3cups builder's tea on the trot & had panic shortly after sigh) but the biggest help has been seeing a PHYSIOTHERAPIST (??!!confused) and getting BODY AWARENESS THERAPY (BAT) taught in sweden for~20yrs, & you know how forward thinking they are) it really works took me a good few months to a year of weekly/fortnightly/ then monthly appointments to feel i could do it & "get" it myself but it's fab: benefits from the start & now because i can do it anywhere, all i need is my body & a few tiny movements no-one really notices. i've found myself feeling the panic rising & doing it at the bus stop, or a few mins in a toilet cubicle makes the world of difference. my GP didn't even know it existed i'd to get psychiatrist to look into it & voilá! worth looking into. hope this helps! i know it's hard to see past the immediate fear (teeth etc) but you will be able to with time & practice relaxing. i wanted to shove breathing exercises up my CPN's arse initially but now wouldn't be without them wink look up all the info you can on panic, info gives you power to break the cycle. you can do it!

veryberrybug Sun 28-Apr-13 01:56:17

ps. definitely second the mindfulness & facing the teeth thing - avoidance makes it worse, allowing the fear to grow arms and legs. think of all the times you've eaten hard food & teeth been fine, just a wee bit at a time, as much as you can manage. re: mindfulness, it's living in our heads gets us so stressed, reconnecting with the body gets it all back in proportion again. get a sick line for time off work, it'll give you the time & space you need to deal with this & you'll be better equipped to work after, don't try to keep going keep going keep going to work that's the anxiety not wanting you to stop (when you do stop you'll have more steam to fight it) xx keep going with the running it'll burn away the nasty stress chemicals smile

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