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Thread: Crippling fear of doctors... Iatrophobia...Help...This is long -background story-

  1. #1

    Crippling fear of doctors... Iatrophobia...Help...This is long -background story-

    So I'm here and don't even know where to begin...Many many many years of crippling anxiety (health 100% of the time) and generalized from thinking about the health anxiety...

    I'm 25 year old girl, good job, good life, like by many, lots of friends, life and soul of the party...if only they knew...

    I'll take you back to 1999, 9 years old... used to wake up thinking about death and how we will all die one day and questioning everything. Around the same time, my cousins cousin was diagnosed with Leukemia, she was also only 9 years old (by the way she recovered really well).

    I suffered with quite bad asthma as a child, was at the doctor countless times, chest infections, pnuemonia, ventolin, seretide. I was also seeing an asthma consultant. Although I was a very happy child and it never really effected me.. and thankfully it was not "attack" asthma just cough/chestiness.

    My Mom is a worry wart and would always bring me to the doctor as a kid for anything... sore name it. She works in the medical profession and deals with sick people really really well but when it comes to her own family or pets, I'm not sure she handles it too well.

    So around the age of 11/12 I hit puberty,started developing boobs etc I was so frightened because these little fried eggs (haha ) were hard and sore and I thought I had some illness. (Clearly not).... That subsided... and I found a round pea lump at the back of my neck, told my Mom, again she brought me to the doctor and he said it was just an enlarged shotty lymph node from some infection and it was absolutely nothing and not to worry... so that scare was over...I'm still only 12 FYI... then I turn 14... I represent my country on a national karate team, used to travel quite a bit i.e. Europe, USA, Canada, Asia etc. I was very active, very fit and good and what I did. A few months before the competition, I was obsessed over my right ankle joint, it was significantly larger than my other ankle (or so I thought) not sore, not swollen just anatomically larger... and I thought my elbow was too... so at 14 I then thought I was on my way out due to some sort of teenage cancer or bone cancer etc... I remember being in the bathrooms before my competiton at the Canadian Karate championships in Toronto crying, as I thought I was dying due to this ankle being larger. Later that day, I fought 10 other kids and got to the final and won the championships. So I kinda used to ignore the fact some of my joints looked larger... until I was 16.... I thought I saw something white in my the back.. on my tonsil.... I refused to look in my mouth for 4 years as I thought I was dying of something else, 4 years of avoidance.....Didn't look at my throat ever... All throughout my teenage years sport kept me sane and particularly karate... I was quite good (don't mean to bluff just trying to put these in perspective) and I think this came from the frustration, anger and fear inside me... I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn't ill or something...I used to exercise heavily 5 days a week...I always had these health concernes at the back of my head...each couple of months it seemed to be something else... I also had a dream I had breast cancer at 16... so I didn't touch my boobs for a couple years after (TOTALLY DAFT I KNOW... ) ....

    I'm a very, very rational person...but when it comes to me and my health i'm anything but....

    So throughout my teenage years, I dealt with all this rubbish... by myself...Mum and Dad hadn't a clue... I used to get to Christmas in December and think "This might be my last Christmas with my family" ...Completely drastic thoughts.

    So when I was 16 and a half, I started getting OCD, i.e. shoes had to be placed together, turning lights off in certain ways or if I didn't my pet or someone close to me would die. After about 1 hour of this at 2am in the night, I would wake up in the morning, totally exhausted and have to go to school like a zombie. Hated every minute of school, always thought it was a waste of my time :( Probably came from the way I was thinking. I used to sit and classes an question I was...what everyone else was... Total existential crisis. Mentally so scared all the time. The outside world never knew this. Not even my parents. They used to say I was so argumentative and a typical teenager (slamming doors etc) but I was so scared and upset all the time.

    So the OCD subsided, I went to uni at 17, met really really really cool people (people in secondary school used to bully me) and started enjoying myself. This was my time to shine, I turned into kinda a social butterfly I guess. I did not drink alchohol (due to karate) but I still loved every minute of it. So felt really good during 1st and 2nd year of my degree... In 3rd year (I was 19), I also started drinking some alcohol, September of that year I was in a constant state of laughter. I started going out with my first "proper, serious" boyfriend... fell madly, deeply, crazily in love with him. We were infatuated by eachother. So with that came frequent sexual acts I was confronted with a problem "Oh crap, I need to go on some sorta birth control... Ah i'll do it next week" ....So one drunken night, there was an accident, which resulting in me having to go to the doctor for the morning after pill..... OH NO... this is it.. Confronted with a real life college doctor... What the heck am I going to do? Its basically baby vs doctor. I went through all the possibilities i.e. blood pressure check ... he'll find something wrong with my heart... Pelvic exam... he'll find a tumour...

    I went into him...reluctantly...everything inside me shaking...Hoping I wouldn't be poked or prodded... I told him what had happened and he began writing me a script and then asked "are you on any birth control?" to which I replied " I'm not" ...and he said "right, do you want to be on it?" .... Shocked at how easy this was, I said "yes please that wouuld be fabulous" ... I walked out the door with a script for the MAP and a script for Yasmin.. Delighted with myself.

    So life went on... was still feeling great.. loved my BF very much.... so much we used to fight a lot (sounds stupid but it happens) I didn't trust him, my own insecurities...we were together a year and went on holidays... still loved up...I wasn't the best with flying but just got over it.... on the way home... I began to feel unwell... such a bad headache, sore neck etc... That subsided and the next day I was so aware of my breathing and heart beat... that subsided... the next day I had strange sensations in my hands... that subsided... What was happening to me? what are all these weird bodily symptoms? I don't know what this is.... I felt miserable....3-4 weeks later I had lost like 2 stone, looked very skinny and just unwell. I went home to Mum who didn't see me much during my "love" year...she thought I looked troubled, like I could cry at any moment, I brushed it off. She had her blood pressure monitor at home, I checked my blood pressure and it was 160/100...OH NO...what is happening? I had always perfect blood pressure 110/60. She rang my doctor... (who hadn't seen me in years as I used to avoid him like the plague) he said "come on in, in the morning" off I went to the doctors with my Mum (aged 20 now)... terrified.... not wanting to be touched in case he'll find something awful... The nurse took me first and spoke with me... She checked by bp, it was down to 140/90 but my pulse was like 110. So she brought me into my GP's office, told him she thought I was tachy and had high BP. When my doc seen my mom with me, he asked could she sit outside and wait (which was good, she was stressing me out even more).. First thing he asked "are you on BC?" I said "yes" ...How long? "Approx 10 months"... he did a couple checks including blood pressure and said "right first things first, throw the yasmin in the bin...its totally not agreeing with you...and considering how you have been feeling, you have severe anxiety" ...He prescribed me with diazepam for 2 weeks, 3 per day... I was on cloud 9... was asleep a lot though haha... he gave me one in the surgery.... and immediately my heart rate was down to 70 and BP perfect... he sent me on my merry way.... I had told my bf what had happened, he wasn't suupportive, this anxiety was frightening him, panic attacks etc... So he did a runner. He said he was too young to deal with this... I was heart broken, weak and terrified for 2-3 months after that..... until I finally started gaining weight... seeing light at the end of the tunnel...feeling better...laughing again... weird sensations and thoughts were passing... I went back to sport and was good for a couple years again... until 2013........Started getting anxiety again (no birth control for years)... weird thoughts...weird feelings...sensations.... feeling a heavy feeling in my chest...obsessed with checking my bp (which was nearly always perfect)... so aware of my heart rate... I was constantly googling... looking for answer but then if something on the TV was related to cancer..I would quickly turn the channel over.. I am so so afraid of dying and disease like cancer, heart disease, HIV etc. I've basically thought Ive had some disease for 15 years. Its exhausting. Nowadays, my breathing is shallow, my shoulder and arm muscles are always tense... I get unwelcome thoughts at times like "what if I say something really inappropriate in some situation?".. I sometimes feel like I'm losing my mind... feel like my memory might go one day and i'll lose my identity..... and I battle in silence avoiding doctors.... so so so afraid.

    I got so P***ed off 2 months ago, I started seeing a CBT consellor. I've been to a couple sessions, no relief yet. Hes trying to get through to me and show me that the likelihood is that I'm probably ok.. but I keep saying to him that these symptoms are so real that I find it hard to believe him.

    1month ago I plucked up the courage to get a couple of health checks done in a screening booth. I got my glucose done I was 5.0 (normal), got my haemoblobin done 14.2 (normal) and cholesterol 4.2 (normal) and triglycerides 0.3 (normal). I also had my bp checked which was normal. So I felt a little better for maybe a day or two... I think I was a little less intimidated because these people were not doctors, it was a nurse and a testing technician and the test wasn't invasive. But would I ever get these tests done at a doctor or get a full blood count done? HELL NO...absolutely not.

    So I've been struggling again for a month with anxiety... one day its a feeling like I have a brain tumour (not headaches) just weird sensations i.e feeling like I could lose my coordination but it never happens or the sensation of me skin feels different. The next day it could be stomach upset...the next day it could be sore muscles...the next day it could be a restrictive band around my ripcage... or the NEXT day its something else... I was recently convinced I was jaundiced (I'm not FYI)... Yesterday it was a pain in the bottom of a lung...

    These all disappear though if I'm distracted by my friends or sport. I play 2 hours of squash 6 out of 7 days per week. I would like to think i'm relatively fit. I love squash its like a drug... gives me some peace whilst playing. But sometimes I'm afraid to go due to passing out of some madness. I just feel OFF a lot and do get panic attacks from time to time hyperventilating etc but I can never ever bring myself to go to the doctor. I live 2 hours from home, 2 hours from my doctor...I don't have a doctor where I am... I work for one of the biggest social media companies and as I said have a lot going on in my life, positively, but here I am, convinced I'm really, really sick.

    I'm lost...afraid...and don;t know what to do... I would like to go on antianxiety/depressant meds to alter the way I process things i.e. thoughts... but to do that a doctor would need to give me a medical and do a blood test = TERRIFYING and avoiding it totally.....

    I'm so so so sorry this is so long, I had a lot to cover... any advice greatly appreciated.


    ---------- Post added at 23:07 ---------- Previous post was at 19:26 ----------

    Any reply greatly appreciated

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2014

    Re: Crippling fear of doctors... Iatrophobia...Help...This is long -background story-

    Hey there. Your story is long, but it sounds a lot like pretty much everyone on here. Long periods of struggle and different triggers or reasons for our anxiety.

    Through it all though, it's impossible to really say what causes our feelings or fears. It's just the way we are. I'm sorry you have to go through it, but know that you're not alone in these feelings and fears. We're all here to help each other out as best we can!

    I'm glad you're getting some CBT. It doesn't work for everyone, but it helps a lot of people. Stick with it and trust the process. If it doesn't work as you hope, then something else will.

    One thing I can definitely relate to is the symptom hopping. I've had everything you describe and more. My usual pattern is that I notice a lump, or a symptom like a headache or blurred eyes, immediately Google what it can be, then convince myself of the worst. Then after a week the symptom goes away or I realize it's nothing and I calm down, until the next one.

    Basically, doing that is very common with Health Anxiety. It's not right or good behaviour but hey, we can't help ourselves but fear the worst, right?

    Something that has helped me over the years is to keep a simple log of any symptoms that occur. Just write down the when and what. Then be sure to go back to the log when it inevitably disappears, and write how you feel calm and that fearing the worst didn't come true. Then if you get a symptom that worries you again, just go back and see that you probably had it before, and that it went.

    Anyway, that helps me. Maybe it will for you. I guess to put a long story short, know that you're not alone with the way you feel and that many others are in the same boat. Please do come here for support! That's what we're all here for!

    ---------- Post added at 15:33 ---------- Previous post was at 15:31 ----------

    Oh, and as for going to the doctors and getting a bunch of tests run - I would advise against it. I think if you're really and truly ill you'll know about it. I imagine getting any test result worries you, even if it's in the normal range...

  3. #3

    Re: Crippling fear of doctors... Iatrophobia...Help...This is long -background story-

    Thank you for the reply... But my problem I think is that I will never get better unless a doctor tells me I'm ok (which I can't bring myself to do) yeah sorry it's so long, I thought it was important to give a back story. That it's not new but it seems to just be getting worse and worse. I really want to take some medicine long term to conquer the anxiety so maybe then I can bring myself to go to the doctor - I'm sick of feeling afraid and hopeless and scared. I want my life back... I've waisted so many years... I wish I went to the doctor as a teenager and told him all this. Big regret. I get symptoms every single day and in fact so many heart related symptoms...I'm sick of it

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2015

    Re: Crippling fear of doctors... Iatrophobia...Help...This is long -background story-

    I can't give wonderful advice at the moment, only solidarity, because we have SUCH similar stories.

    I remember having my first panic attack in the 6th grade one night in bed and being so terrified because I didn't realize what it was at the time. I think my fears began around the time my science teacher decided to do a semester-long curriculum around diseases, and I was convinced I had malaria. Literally, convinced.

    A few months after that I was having severe headaches, so that was the brain tumor stage.

    And on it went with a variety of symptoms and illnesses, to now (I'm 26).

    I've sometimes been able to talk myself into a few months of "remission" but as soon as I encounter any kind of stress in my life, my HA goes to a whole new level.

    What has helped me most lately is to learn about more homeopathic and natural approaches to anxiety and mental health issues. It's very isolating, because like you, no one knows the loop which plays inside my mind all day long. Trying to focus on relaxation techniques and exercise seems to be helping take the edge off, as well as taking Nutri-Calm.

    I wish you well, and am always up for connecting if you need someone to listen!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011

    Re: Crippling fear of doctors... Iatrophobia...Help...This is long -background story-

    I can really relate. I'm a 29 year old who is terrified of the dr and tests.

    I've always been a worrier but used to go the dr a lot as it would reassure me. Then at 21, I went and they requested bloods which came back abnormal. My dr sent me away in fear, saying it could be hepatitis etc but to come back in 6 weeks for a retest. This is when my health anxiety started as I turned to google for the first time. I then started with the anxiety type pains, which was a pain where my liver was located. What followed was 3 years of jumping from one fear to the next. When I got pregnant at 24, I had to face my fear of tests and doctors and did it no problem as everything I did was for my baby and it made me brave.
    I was fine until after my second baby at 28 and got kidney stones. They then scanned me and found I had a tumour on my liver, which lead to months of a absolute torture that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Turns out its benign but for a while, I was terrified I had liver cancer.
    Now, I'm even more terrified of doctors and tests as that was a completely incidental finding and most people go their whole lives without knowing about things like that. I should go for blood tests etc but I'm absolutely, beyond scared of going and even thinking about it makes my heart race. When I take my kids to the Dr, I feel sick and panic they will mention me at all.

    I don't really have much advice for you...other people say face your fears and go the dr...I'm one of the unfortune ones who seems to get some kind of 'abnormal' result to worry about on every test so I really wouldn't go for tests unless really needed. I guess it's different where you are but here in England, you wouldn't get blood tests before given anti anxiety tests and blood tests aren't part of a medical if you get a new GP.
    You know what works for you so I can only suggest doing more of it, full your life with sports and friends as much as you can. You sound extrmemely healthy to me...someone who has something seriously wrong with them can not play squash for hours! Good luck x

  6. #6

    Re: Crippling fear of doctors... Iatrophobia...Help...This is long -background story-

    Hey guys - thanks for the responses - much appreciated. Just to let you know, the anxiety got so bad that I have been to a GP TWICE in two weeks. I've had my lungs checked, heart checked, ECG and a thyroid blood test. Results for the blood test should be tomorrow and the other tests were normal. So he has prescribed me 10mg of Escitalopram. I've been on this 16 days (not feeling incredibly different yet). Still have generalized chest tightness/pressure etc. Had have had one panic attack in that time too which was New Years Ever after having a couple of drinks to celebrate. So really hoping this all works out.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012

    Re: Crippling fear of doctors... Iatrophobia...Help...This is long -background story-

    Escitalopram will need more time to work but it's great... Stick with it

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