..Contd from the previous post
In spite of all that was happening to me on the very personal level, I graduated from college in mid ‘92, got a great job and got engaged. Life was good, but by then the panic attacks had left a scar and deep down inside I was not my true self – there was fear, there was a sense of hesitancy. This gnawing perpetual worry at the back of my mind that the panic attacks would recur. Soon my worry would turn into a self fulfilling prophecy.
The panic attacks came back, this time much more stronger than what I had experienced before and then started a 13 year long journey of excruciating torture. The panic attacks would come unannounced and I would start associating them with places or events and it become so bad, I would continue to be in a perpetual state of anxiousness.
I couldn’t stand being in crowded places, I couldn’t be at ease in closed places and neither could I stand being alone – that meant I started avoiding cinema’s, theaters, restaurants, shopping, going to any crowded place, traveling and so on. One day I had a such severe attack while driving to work, that I had to park the scooter in the side of the road and take an auto to work…and that was the last time I drove a scooter to work. Taking an auto back and forth to the office was out of question due to the limited income I had those days and taking a bus was out of question due to claustrophobia issues. I loved traveling and driving around and not being able to do what I loved left me in a state of despair.
In the midst of the gloom there used to be several good days at a stretch, where I would lead a perfectly normal life. In the summer of ‘93, I got married to Meena – a remarkable person who has been tremendously encouraging and supportive of me all through the miserable period of my life. If it had not been for her constant support and love, I don’t think I would have been able to pull out of this despair.
The panic attacks led me into a state of acute fear and depression and I started on a merry go round trip of visiting doctors, not finding relief from one doctor, moving onto another, someone would recommend a specialist and I would go and see them….eventually moving onto alternative mode of treatments, and when nothing seemed to be working, I used to pray so very hard and so very often. There were days when I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep properly and/or would wake up in a sweat and would eventually drift to sleep clutching the Sai Charitra close to my heart.
At last count I had seen 25 doctors including cardiologists, neurosurgeons, three psychiatrists and two counsellors, homeopaths, pranic healers and even religious healers. Not to mention the endless cycle of clinical tests including ECG’s they would subject me to rule out any physical causes. The funny thing was no one doctor would trust the clinical reports that I had carried from my previous doctors visits and would invariably subject me to visit their favourite diagnostic labs.
I have lost the count of number of times I went through these procedures. The worst was when one of the cardiologist put me onto a 24 hour Holter monitor to record the heart’s rhythms to rule out a condition known as Mitral Valve Prolapse.
Courtsey of Dr. Ramachandran – whom I will be ever thankful for, for recommending me to one of the finest doctors in town – I ended up with Dr. Shyamala Vatsa – a brilliant doctor, psychiatrist, counsellor and author in Bangalore who was able to help me cope with the anxiety and panic attacks to a very large extent.
While all this was happening, life was going on at its own pace, I changed jobs, moved cities and travelled several times outside the country. However, travel by flight was a big nightmare. The feelings of claustrophobia, coupled with a general sense of anxiety had made it a routine that every time I would take a flight, I had to pop in a tranquilizer. What was a dream for many to hop on a flight and travel to the fancy cities of the west became a living nightmare for me.
I changed job and changed city and we moved to Chennai from Bangalore in Jan of 2000 and then a coincidence or synchronicity took me to a life changing event.
Next: The magic of….