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Thread: Slowly overcoming Health Anxiety

  1. #1

    Slowly overcoming Health Anxiety

    Hey guys! This is about to be a long post, but hopefully it helps someone. I gained so much from reading posts on this sight while dealing with my anxiety that if I can benefit someone reading this post that will make my year.

    I am a long time lurker on this site, I have never posted before this but trust me I've been down quite the rabbit hole with health anxiety. My health anxiety first began when I was in my early high school career ( I am in my 20's now). A friend of mine's sister passed away from leukemia and a few months later I was convinced I had it as well. For about six months I wallowed in self-pity. I meticulously kept track of bruises and petechiae. Felt exhausted all the time and lost possibly 20 pounds or more in weight and I wasn't heavy to begin with. Finally I broke down and confessed my fears to my mom. A trip to the doctors and......

    No leukemia. In fact, nothing was wrong with me at all.

    For the next 8 years, I was health anxiety free. This appeased my worries and I lived life happily. Until October of 2018 when I had my first panic attack.

    A little context as to how this attack came about. I was working on my last semester of college while working two jobs and raising my three year old son. And funny thing is, I for some reason didn't think that was enough stress to bring one on 😂

    This first attack landed me at urgent Care thinking I was dying of a heart attack and that life as I knew it was over. But no heart attack! "Just" anxiety. This wasn't where my health anxiety really hit the fan though. That same weekend, my dog, while outside got attacked by another dog. After his fight, and before taking him to the vet, I cleaned and doctored his wound. And you probably guessed it, I thought I got rabies from the saliva from his wounds entering a burn I had received from a hot Pocket the prior day. Now buckle up because it's going to get nuts.

    I spent approximately 2 months thinking I had rabies. I saw at least 4 different doctors all of them saying that the situation did not warrant shots and that I had massive anxiety. I called our county health department in one last desperate attempt to get the shots and still no. According to every professional, shots were not needed. And honestly, I was so deep in that I doubt getting the shots would have even helped.

    Meanwhile, as my grades in college slipped, my work performance suffered, and I was consumed with thoughts of my impending doom, I was consulting the powerful Google on all the symptoms of rabies. I spent nights staying up all night looking stuff up. And suddenly I had them all or so I thought I did. I felt like I couldn't swallow, like the burn I had was throbbing, like I was aerophobic, hydrophobic, and sensitive to light. But I wasn't. No rabies; it was all in my head.

    I didn't snap out of it until my fiance finally gave me the same speech he had been giving me for 2 months telling me there was no way I had rabies and for the first time I actually used my rational brain and believed him. And guess what? No more rabies symptoms! How miraculous!

    Too bad I felt what ended up being a shotty groin lymph node in the shower like a day later.

    The next 2 months, I thought I had lymphoma, MS, ALS, thyroid issues/cancer, lupus, Crohn's, Ulcerative colitis, Colon cancer, a brain tumor, and leukemia. Not in that order, some I thought I had at the same time, others lasted for a day, while some took up a week. I had so many symptoms! I lost weight, felt weak on one side, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, vision changes, naseau, trouble swallowing, random aches and pains, insomnia, and also extreme exhaustion. I had so many things I can't list them all.

    You guys. Let me paint you a picture of where I was at the end of these four months. I looked sickly and awful (all due to my worry.) I had accumulated bills from several urgent care visits and 1 ER visit. I was terrified to drive because that is what I was doing when I had my first attack. So I was like a hermit, staying home as much as I could except to do work and school and take my son place that were necessary. Each time I drove though, I had a panic attack. And everywhere I went I was thinking I would die from whatever illness I thought I had so I was miserable everywhere. My relationships with my fiance and family were deteriorating because all I was focused on we're fictitious illnesses. My life was a mess that I had created with the help of being overly stressed and good old Google.

    I know this is on the success story page, but to understand how far I've come it is important to know where I was. So where am I now?

    Well, after determining that the way I was behaving was really screwing up everything in my life I decided to take action for myself instead of only creating issues for myself. So now, I am almost back to normal. I have days where I still think I have something but I am panic attack free and have been for a month. Driving no longer bothers me and I no longer spend all my free time googling or at the doctor. And I can carry on a conversation about something other than my disease or impending death. Want to know how I am tackling this?

    Iwent to the doctor explicitly for anxiety and got put on Prozac. I know that meds dont work for everyone, but they have helped me get the boost i needed to work on this.

    I stopped Googling. Google is the devil. The literal anti-christ. It is not your friend. It is not the answer. If you think something is wrong no amount of googling about it will fix it. See your doctor!

    I am religious so prayer and reading in my bible really helped me! if you aren't religious, meditation or something that just forces you to put yourself aside for a moment would likely help.

    I also started actively fighting negative thoughts about my health instead of indulging them. If you have a negative thought about a symptom, maybe make a note to mention it to your doctor, but try not to obsess over it.

    Lastly, stop comparing your symptoms to stories on the internet. What I mean by this is, having something like petechiae could mean you have a blood disorder. Or it could mean your clothes were too tight or a thousand other more minor things. Only your doctor can make those connections and diagnose you. Unless you're a doctor you can't do that.

    Ultimately, I have worked hard to be better for myself and for the things that are important to me. Love yourself enough to overcome this. Take the steps you need to take for you. If they are the same as the things I did then great. If not, that's great too! One thing I've learned from this is that health is a very individual thing. You may have to work to find what works for you and to heal but don't give up! You deserve to live your best life ❤️

    I'm now a college graduate who is on the job hunt. Still have lots of stresses and still working through this but what has changed is how I am handling my anxiety. God bless all of you on this forum and I hope that you each stay strong as you fight your anxiety battles.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    118

    Re: Slowly overcoming Health Anxiety

    Great post and wish you all the best in your recovery

  3. #3

    Re: Slowly overcoming Health Anxiety

    Wow, I loved reading your post. I so pleased you are feeling better and positive for the future. You are only going to continue to get stronger!! I’m happy for you and I know the same will happen for me and everyone else on this page soon too. Xx

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