First off, this is a fairly common phobia (especially, it seems, among people who had bad asthma growing up), so you're not alone for sure. And I personally have experiences with body memories triggering panic reactions (for me, it was a near-fatal allergic reaction to penicillin...for a while, taking medication made me feel like I was having a reaction again, and I'd panic). Of course, the symptoms of a panic attack mimic the very thing you're afraid of...tightness in the chest, rapid heart rate, etc. It's hard to say whether you're panicking or having a real reaction (dizziness and not being able to breathe are, unfortunately, symptoms of both).
For me, resolving this issue meant safely and slowly pushing the boundary of what made me afraid. The first few times I had to take a medication after that, I took it literally in the hospital parking lot. The next few times, with a phone by my side to call 911 as needed. And gradually, as I had more positive experiences with taking medications, the fear decreased.
So how can you safely exercise without pushing that panic button? Does it mean starting with walking or other milder exercise, maybe with your inhaler near by? Or starting small, so you can have a positive experience with exercise that triggers neither your chronic fatigue or your asthma? The idea would be that, by taking small steps into movement (instead of pushing yourself hard into feeling those uncomfortable, triggery feelings in your chest and lungs), you'd accumulate enough good experiences that you'd be able to push a bit further.
I also found external cues to be helpful (for example, I roll my tongue into a cylinder when I am afraid I am having an allergic reaction...if my tongue rolls normally, it isn't swollen, therefore, my reaction is due to panic, not to actual allergy). You might consider getting a heart rate monitor, or even periodically taking your pulse, to remind yourself that you're working at a reasonable level, or stopping to take a moment and a few deep breaths to reassure yourself that your lungs are still able to take in air.
The key is to not push yourself too far into the discomfort before you've amassed a collection of positive experiences. Stop when you're just barely starting to feel a little discomfort, reassure yourself with relaxation exercises and deep breathing, and continue if it feels safe for you to do so, or wait for another day.
Hope that helps!
Goal Met - 10/28/07
- My Progress Picture Collage - My Goal Story
- Where Have I Been?
No matter how slow you go, you're still lapping everyone on the couch!
Maintained Oct 2007-Sept 2011, then got pregnant. Our baby boy was born in May, 2012...now to lose the baby weight!!