I’m hoping to find some answers.
As some of you may know, I have recently been dealing with some anxiety issues. I will try to explain as easily as possible how I think it all came about.
About four months or so ago I was at the kennel walking the dogs like I normally do. I was with my friend and fellow volunteer Mike at the time and as we turn the corner around the block I get a whiff of what seemed to be spray paint or something to that effect. At first it just seemed unpleasant but as we proceeded down the block the smell just intensified and I inhaled it the entire block. I started to feel light headed and my pulse was racing, I thought for sure I was going to pass out. Mike just kept saying “just keep walking; we are almost at the end of the block. Don’t pass out on me.” We finally get to the end of the block and I hit fresh air. It was definitely a scary feeling but I didn’t give it too much thought and we just decided not to go back that way for a while.
Fast forward now about 2 weeks. I visit my friend in CT with the intension of staying over to drive her back the next day with me so she can come see the kennel. I get to her house and when I stepped into her kitchen I smelled the same smell I did back at the kennel. I immediately left the room and started to panic mentally. I told her I needed to go, that I didn’t feel comfortable there. I felt terrible but she was kind enough to drive back with me that same night. We went for a walk and even lit the fire pit to see if that would help but I could not get that smell out of my head and I was worried about having a reaction. She drove the car back for me but the entire ride I was completely freaking out and almost asked her to pull over on the highway so I could walk around. It was the longest hour and 15 minutes of my life. She tried to do everything to help me relax and told me I was having an anxiety attack. I didn’t even think it was that until she mentioned it and I realized that was in fact what I was having. I haven’t had a panic attack in over 6 years and I only had one before due to exhaustion which I was hospitalized for.
Ever since that day, I have been having trouble dealing with worrying about that smell and anxiety overcomes me. I feel like I am more aware of my body and its reactions now make me intensify my anxiety. I try to tell myself to relax, that none of the stuff I’m around or doing ever made me have a reaction. I thought after finally having a break through with my diabetes (no longer depressed and taking care of myself), that things could only get better. I have gone to the cardiologist and GI doctors to make sure I’m ok; thankfully the results have been good. I am currently seeing a therapist and I do feel better with certain things but even just a hint of that smell and I’m 10 steps backwards. I even signed up for the gym to try and reduce my anxiety, which I will be starting to go to again next week. I try not to Google anything because I am sure I will just freak out more.
So I am hoping that someone out there can help me with a few questions I have. One being, has anyone dealt with anxiety that is only brought on by certain smells? Is there a way to completely desensitize myself to that smell? People have said I should look into taking anti-anxiety meds but that is another huge fear of mine. I am completely paranoid about taking new meds and worry about having life threatening side effects. Which leads me to my other question, let’s say I take an anti-anxiety medication but my body is not allergic to it but my mind thinks it is, will I have the symptoms as if I were allergic?
I honestly think if I can get over this whole fear of smelling that smell and fear of medications, my life will be completely different. My last question is: What if there’s no way to become completely desensitized to the smell, but if I’m on medication will I still have the anxiety symptoms? A friend of mine mentioned that I may be suffering from PTSD because of the kennel and me worrying about feeling the same way I did that day.
Any help is appreciated and I know this is a long post but I’m trying to do everything I can to get over this. I even bought a mask for the odors but it’s hard to breathe in since it’s so hot out.