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Thread: The feeling that some health related disaster is imminent

  1. #1
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    Aug 2019
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    The feeling that some health related disaster is imminent

    Hi all, I've been struggling with HA for the past 15 years, maybe longer and have been having CBT for 12 months.

    Recently I said to my therapist that I find CBT helpful for specific illness fears eg. to calm down when I think I have a symptom, but not for the underlying feeling of dread that some health related disaster is imminent.

    That's me every day. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed I feel like something is wrong with me. Sometimes it's a specific illness, but often it's just feeling like some health related criss is inevitable. So when I have a symptom of something I think "This is it." It's getting worse as I get older and more likely to actually have something happen.

    I also find it hard to think about or plan for the future. Every time I get excited about something I start to think "but what if I get diagnosed with x,y,z?" and then I either rob myself of the joy of waiting for an event or don't start a long term project because I think "what's the point if I get something terminal?" or I need to lose weight but every time I start to see success on the scales I have a panic attack that it's because I've got cancer! The thought of something good happening is as scary as something bad.


    My therapist is referring me to a colleague who is experienced in schema therapy. Schemas are underlying beliefs that you develop in childhood and there is one where you fear that something terrible is going to happen all the time, including health things.

    I was relieved to hear this because I was starting to feel like I was running out of options for treating my HA. I haven't had my first session yet, but will update this thread if people are interested to hear how it goes.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    186

    Re: The feeling that some health related disaster is imminent

    Hi Carriewriting

    I could have written your post, even down to wanting to lose a bit of weight, but when I do, I panic in case its a sign of cancer. Then I put the weight back on and think that carrying extra weight is a guarantee to getting cancer. Its exhausting isn't it.
    The schema therapy sounds interesting, please do update the thread, I would be willing to try if its any good

    Inanna xx

  3. #3
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    Aug 2019
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    Re: The feeling that some health related disaster is imminent

    Hi Inanna, sorry you're going through this too, but you're not alone!

  4. #4
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    Mar 2019
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    Re: The feeling that some health related disaster is imminent

    I could have written this myself, everytime I about to go on holiday do something fun or sometimes just even think of the idea I get a little voice in my head that says why are you so relaxed why are you enjoying your self ,your body is a ticking time bomb and your ignoring the fact you might have something sinister happening in your body. Tbh itís so tiring. Iím on ADs at the moment which do help, the feeling is not as intense or doesn't consume me but the thoughts are there. Itís like atm I felt what I thought was a lump at the bottom of my left breast went to gp turned out of my rib.was happy for a few hours and then then thought creeped up what if she didnít check it properly what if you didnít show it to correctly.so I assure you youíre not the only one.schema therapy definitely looks like a good option

  5. #5
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    Aug 2019
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    210

    Re: The feeling that some health related disaster is imminent

    Carriewriting,

    I'm so glad to hear that you are going to get appropriate help that will dig into underlying issues. My initial therapy sessions focused solely on what you described as the specific illness fears. This was helpful for the in-the-moment situations but not the baseline feelings I was continuously having. I had to switch therapists and finally found one that decided to do some digging. Rather than focusing only on what was happening, we did a lot of work on why it was happening. This required a LOT of work and discomfort. I had to confront a lot of things about myself, my family, my childhood that I was unknowingly repressing. I can promise you that if you put in the work, it will be 100% worth it. My baseline has changed and I don't spend everyday in a constant state of worry.

    Good luck & Best wishes.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    10,682

    Re: The feeling that some health related disaster is imminent

    That's such a hugely encouraging post for Carrie, NotDeadYet..and your therapy has obviously helped you tremendously in view of all your extremely insightful posts on NMP.

    Carrie, I wish you every success in the schema therapy. You will give it your all, as always and that's all you can do. HA is a tricky beast but it can be managed.

  7. #7
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    Re: The feeling that some health related disaster is imminent

    Quote Originally Posted by carriewriting View Post

    That's me every day. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed I feel like something is wrong with me. Sometimes it's a specific illness, but often it's just feeling like some health related criss is inevitable. So when I have a symptom of something I think "This is it." It's getting worse as I get older and more likely to actually have something happen.
    This used to be me, but I made my peace with dying. I had to in order to get better from HA.

    I figured that something will eventually happen, and to every living thing on this planet. This is something we all need to understand, and no amount of worrying will change that. It doesn't help that generally in Western culture we fear death and dying. In other cultures, death is celebrated as the natural part of life that it is.

    I chose to desensitise by immersing myself in all things death. Books, stories of good deaths, NDEs (the closest thing to actual death that we know), songs, comedies, films. I visited a hospice and was blown away by the joyful vibe in a building where people were dying. It changed my whole perspective on that because, in my mind, they were dark, joyless places. I desensitised myself to dying. I stopped seeing 'death' as this grim reaper type, and more like Terry Pratchett's idea of Death - who is funny. Most importantly, I learned to accept that all we really have is the present, and in this moment, as I am typing this - I am not dying.

    I learned to enjoy my moments as if they were going to be my last, and I occasionally look through my photograph albums to remind me that, actually, I am capable of feeling happy - even when I'm not well.

    The human body will always have an ache or a pain, and that's normal. It would be abnormal if there were not aches and pains. With HA, we focus on these normal aches and pains and write a very dramatic mind script which our brains respond to (fight or flight). It's like at school when we did creative writing and were given a mundane subject which we had to make exciting and dramatic. You know? Well, we are doing this with these normal bodily symptoms of fight or flight and it fires out the stress hormones (adrenalin, cortisol etc) which creates more symptoms, and there are hundreds of anxiety symptoms!

    And then the nightmare starts. A seemingly never-ending cycle of symptoms and fear and more symptoms and even more fear, and, as I keep saying - never underestimate how shit anxiety can make you feel!

    Every time I get excited about something I start to think "but what if I get diagnosed with x,y,z?"
    What if you don't? (the most likely scenario)

    The 'What If' gremlin is a little sod. He's been sat on my shoulder for years, stuff like..

    'What if I faint?' (I never have - well I did once, but it was mixing gin with hayfever tablets. Oops)

    'What if I shit myself while I'm out?' (never happened)

    'What if I have heart attack in Tesco's?' (came close a few times when I've checked my receipt (HOW MUCH?!!!) but have never actually had a heart attack)

    That's the tame stuff. My mind can go waaaaaaaaay further...

    How many of your dramatic 'What If's have ever come true?

    and then I either rob myself of the joy of waiting for an event or don't start a long term project because I think "what's the point if I get something terminal?"
    Anxiety likes to kick us in the balls/flaps when there is a threat of happiness. The best way to get your own back is to acknowledge its presence, but carry on with your day. Fear wants to stop you from experiencing joy. It's like a Dementor (Harry Potter) - so you have to Expecto Patronum the crap out of it, and by that, you acknowledge its presence, but carry on with your day. As long as you keep reacting with fear to your own thoughts, it will hover close to you.

    My anxiety is pretty high at the moment, but I'm taking it to the garden centre with me, and it can sit there while I look at the pretty flowers.

    My therapist is referring me to a colleague who is experienced in schema therapy. Schemas are underlying beliefs that you develop in childhood and there is one where you fear that something terrible is going to happen all the time, including health things.
    Actually, I think many an anxiety condition starts in childhood. It helps to remember the people who were around you at that time and what they were like and the dialogue they used. Chances are, if you were close to someone who was ill - or a hypochondriac - this will have left an impression on you, and the brain remembers. My earlier bouts of HA coincided with ailing grandfather (breathing issues) Then it was my MIL (breathing issues) and finally the death of my mother (refusal to wear crutches after a hip op) I'm joking, sort of. Mum was due to have a hip op and she wasn't happy at the prospect of having to hobble about on crutches for 6 weeks, so I've always said she died to get one up on the surgeon.

    When I think about it, me connecting my symptoms of hyperventilation to an actual breathing issue due to disease is understandable, but irrational. Educating myself about the stress response was a game changer for me, and it would be for most HA sufferers if they only chose to Google that instead of symptoms...

    15 years is a long time to have HA. I had it (in bouts) for 40+ years. I didn't know what it was for most of that time. I couldn't verbalise what I was feeling or thinking, but I got there in the end, and so will you. Acceptance is key to recovery. Turning to face what we fear is the only way to take back control.

    All the very best to you.
    __________________
    There is a light. There is. Look for it. Look for it shining over your shoulder, on the past. It was light where you went once. It is light where you are now. It will be light where you will go again. ~ Jennifer Worth

  8. #8
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    Jun 2014
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    Re: The feeling that some health related disaster is imminent

    Fab post, Nora..as always. Have you ever thought of a setting up as an HA- specialising therapist? Your personal experience would count for so much..

  9. #9
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    Mar 2016
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    865

    Re: The feeling that some health related disaster is imminent

    Quote Originally Posted by pulisa View Post
    Fab post, Nora..as always. Have you ever thought of a setting up as an HA- specialising therapist? Your personal experience would count for so much..
    It's crossed my mind a few times, but I have the verbal communication skills of a wheelie bin -so that might be an issue. I just keep coming on here and hoping that I can do somebody some good.
    __________________
    There is a light. There is. Look for it. Look for it shining over your shoulder, on the past. It was light where you went once. It is light where you are now. It will be light where you will go again. ~ Jennifer Worth

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    Re: The feeling that some health related disaster is imminent

    You certainly have so much expert knowledge and advice!

    As for verbal communication skills...I don't think that bothers most medics!

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