Saturday, October 13, 2018

Hyperventilation Syndrome - An Invisible Disorder That Is Miserable!


Anyone else deal with hyperventilation syndrome? I bet you are thinking, "How difficult is it to breathe correctly?" It's the dumbest mental illness to have, so of course, I have it! Seriously, I know it is stupid!

Do you know what it feels like to keep breathing out, and then hold your breath for as long as possible, simply because you are afraid to breathe in; because you know you will take in too much oxygen and continue screwing up your system? 

It's exhausting, and my rib muscles even get sore. Nearly every breath has too much oxygen, but I can't describe to you what happens chemically to the body, because it is confusing!  It does make me a bit spacey, but most people think that is my personality anyway, so no one knows when I am in the throws of a hyperventilation attack! 

I have had this malady on and off since I was in my 20's.  The first time I had it, I drove myself to Foote Hospital in Jackson, Michigan, thinking I was having a heart attack!  An ER staff member hooked me up to something (an EKG?) and said nothing was wrong with my heart, and that I was just hyperventilating. 

Over the years I have learned ways to cope with it, so that I don't get light-headed and feel like I will faint, but I haven't conquered it yet. Just thinking about breathing can bring it on, so yoga and meditation involving breathing are not a good fit for me! Still, I do practice some relaxation techniques, and also try to get busy to distract myself - my breathing will naturally go back to normal for a little while when I concentrate on something else.   

Eventually, after a few days (or a month of on and off problems), I start breathing normally again for several months and don't even think about it.
 
I am very healthy and want to show people how healthy I am, but then I get these ridiculous maladies! It's like my brain tries to sabotage me!  It usually happens to insecure people who project themselves to be cool and confident. At least that is what I read, and it does sound like how I am a good share of the time. Plus, I acquire habits easily. Breathing in fast gasps is a really annoying habit!

Up until recently, we were told to breathe into a paper bag, but now experts say it doesn't do any good, and sometimes makes it worse.  I could see that people would breathe in very strongly into a paper bag – perhaps that is the problem!  One of the things they now say to do is breathe in slowly for the count of 2, and out for the count of 4, because the ratio is what is close to normal and it is supposed to reset the brain. All I can say is that it is very difficult to figure out how much air to let in or out and really hard to control it.  They offer other suggestions like “not deeply sighing” which is what we naturally do when having trouble breathing, covering one nostril to breathe in and then breathe out slowly through pursed lips, or even just hold your breath if you know you are taking in too much oxygen!  I do all of these techniques.
 
I have to be happy that I have not had any "near fainting" episodes with my hands cramping up, or any hyperventilation combined with a panic attack, like I used to get. So it's "under control" to an extent! Hopefully, it will disappear one day forever, but I am not holding my breath!