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Thread: What do you experience with HA?

  1. #1

    What do you experience with HA?

    I've had HA since I was about six years old, I'm now in my 40's. There are times in my life where it has been almost completely gone and times in my life where it resurfaces and is just awful. I'm just wondering what your experiences have been. Have you had times where it has been almost non-existent? If so, can you make any sense of why?

    I used to go to the doctor a lot and my therapist was able to help me stop with that, however, now I find I can barely bring myself to go at all. Do you tend to avoid doctors or go often? Do you tend to have your routine tests? I am a month overdue for my mammogram and my friend doesn't understand how I can worry so much about things, but avoid a routine appointment.

    I have a wonderful therapist and she has noticed that when I have stress in my life I tend to become more anxious. So when I talk to her and start talking about health worries, she will also say this isn't about <insert illness> what is going on otherwise. It has been interesting to pay attention to. Anyone else?

  2. #2
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    Re: What do you experience with HA?

    Quote Originally Posted by lovemydogs View Post

    I have a wonderful therapist and she has noticed that when I have stress in my life I tend to become more anxious. So when I talk to her and start talking about health worries, she will also say this isn't about <insert illness> what is going on otherwise. It has been interesting to pay attention to. Anyone else?

    She sounds like an excellent therapist, and you should pay attention to this.

    All anxiety starts with stress, in my opinion. Stress can be caused by a bewildering array of sources, so her asking you to monitor that is a very good idea.

    Manage the stress, and the anxiety will likely disappear over time.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2016
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    Re: What do you experience with HA?

    Quote Originally Posted by lovemydogs View Post
    I've had HA since I was about six years old, I'm now in my 40's. There are times in my life where it has been almost completely gone and times in my life where it resurfaces and is just awful. I'm just wondering what your experiences have been. Have you had times where it has been almost non-existent? If so, can you make any sense of why?
    I didn't realise it at the time, but I had HA as a small child. I remember looking at parts of my body and feeling sick to my stomach because I thought they were abnormal. I also watched programmes on TV - like hospital programmes, and if somebody had a terminal disease - I suddenly had it. I once thought my wrist bones were signs of 'bone cancer'. It's reappeared throughout my life numerous times since then and the trigger seems to be members of my family who were ill. It's blindingly obvious now that those persistent symptoms I always got - dizziness, nausea, racing heart, chest pain, feeling cold etc - was anxiety, and panic attacks. I didn't understand what was happening, and I couldn't verbalise any of it either, so I suffered alone, and for many years...

    I am pre-disposed to anxiety. I was diagnosed with social phobia at 14 and had bulimia at the same time - also GAD. OCD, - you name it, I've had (or have it)

    In 2011, my mother died suddenly, and that night I woke up with severe chest pain. That was the start of a gradual decline into a seemingly never-ending rabbit hole because this bout of HA took me into mental breakdown where I was scared to be left alone, and if I was left alone, I sat in a chair feeling like I was going to drop down dead at any time. Every second felt like an hour. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I had so many physical symptoms it was unreal, and I was always at the doctors, the out of hours, or A&E. I lost 2 stone in weight and couldn't speak without retching or actually vomiting. I had bowel cancer, heart attacks, strokes, MS, bowel prolapse, and a trillion other imaginary diseases, but every test I ever had (except for low Vit D) came back normal. In the end, I was diagnosed with FMS - which fits with the trauma of losing my mother so suddenly after a lifetime of being anxious. My anxiety just amplified everything and I was totally hyper-focused on my body. These days, I can generally tell the difference between my anxiety symptoms and what is due to fibro. Things came to a head re the HA when my imagined bowel cancer (of which I was so certain I was dying, I planned my funeral) turned out to be nothing wrong whatsoever. That was the turning point for me. I had put myself, and my family, through enough. So I was referred for CBT - two lots in total. I got the FMS diagnosis last year, but I was already recovered from HA by then. The symptoms continue to flit round my body, but I don't fear them anymore. Common sense says that, if a new symptom persists longer than a few weeks - it's to the GP I go.

    I used to go to the doctor a lot and my therapist was able to help me stop with that, however, now I find I can barely bring myself to go at all. Do you tend to avoid doctors or go often? Do you tend to have your routine tests? I am a month overdue for my mammogram and my friend doesn't understand how I can worry so much about things, but avoid a routine appointment.
    Avoidance is as bad as going all the time. My parents were avoiders, and it cost my dad his life, and my mother's positive cancer story would have been very different had I not frog-marched her to the doctors..

    Being a month overdue with screening isn't a big deal. I was six months overdue for my smear simply because of my VA which meant that I had to use dilators so they could get the damn speculum up there!

    I have a wonderful therapist and she has noticed that when I have stress in my life I tend to become more anxious. So when I talk to her and start talking about health worries, she will also say this isn't about <insert illness> what is going on otherwise. It has been interesting to pay attention to. Anyone else?
    Stress= anxiety = unpleasant physical symptoms which we focus on. Add stress being through a relative being ill, and we have a recipe for HA right there!
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  4. #4
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    Re: What do you experience with HA?

    I've had HA since I was young as well and we also used to watch lots of TV medical programmes! At the root of it all was my mothers obsession with cancer and she used to discuss this with me when I was too young to understand, I just became very frightened. It was only when I got older that I realised that my mother used this obsession to get attention, she was always dying of one cancer or another, my Dad (who was lovely) just used to ignore her! My mother passed away age 91 of natural causes.
    Growing up in a dysfunctional family took it's toll on my mental and physical health.

    In 1996 I was diagnosed with CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and subsequently a couple of other autoimmune conditions which has been very stressful, with me the symptoms cause the anxiety not the other way round. I've had bouts of severe anxiety and depression. I've had many diagnostic tests over the years, often because of very real symptoms related to my autoimmune stuff.

    Lately I've been struggling with my HA and am doing some counselling with a psychologist next month.

    NoraB, glad you managed to get your smear done, I've have one done every year. I've got cervical stenosis and my new female gynae managed to dilate and get an accurate smear with all the right cells (first time in 7 years). She's amazing, I don't need another one for 3 years
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  5. #5

    Re: What do you experience with HA?

    My HA didn't start when I was young but I got it (first time) when I was about 28 years old. I'd say the main trigger was that I suddenly got a panic attack one day which I'd never experienced before. It was terrifying and lasted about 3 hours. I went to the A&E but as the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with me they said "it's probably anxiety". I didn't believe them as I couldn't imagine anxiety creating real, physical symtoms like that. I was sure something must be wrong with me, something like some terrible disease. I kept getting panic attacks like once every week and started to fear them. After some time I didn't get much attacks anymore but instead developed HA. Every day I woke up wondering what strange symtoms my body would produce that specific day.

    I don't know exactly what gave me a panic attack in the first place. I didn't feel particularly stressed at that time in my life, but I guess I also felt somewhat "lost". I had finished a long education at university and then there were no jobs available. I was looking for something while living with my parents but couldn't get anything at all. Not even just as a cashier or at some cleaning service. I was starting to wonder what I should do with my life and that's when I first experienced a couple of migraine attacks (with aura). I didn't know what it was and they made me really scared... So after googling the symtoms for about a week I got my dreaded first panic attack.

    I lost my HA (the first "wave" of it at least) when I got a real job. Not immediately though. I remember still being worried about having some disease while working and I still remember some days when the anxiety was so bad that I had to go out during my lunch and call my mom. She always managed to calm me down. However those "bad days" started getting less and less until it just stopped. Maybe it took 2-3 months for it to completely go away though. I think the biggest reason was that I just suddenly got too many things to focus on so there wasn't enough time for me to focus anymore on how I was feeling.

    Thus I had a completely normal HA free life for like 1.5 years until I became really stressed for a whole lot of reasons at the beginning of this year. One of the biggest reasons was because of covid19 and that I was going to travel to Asia just around the time when the virus started to spread. I was terrified I would get infected. Thankfully I didn't, but I still got another horrible panic attack one day at work (just after calming down about not getting sick)... And then my second wave of HA started.

    Lastly about the doctors I used to go a lot in the beginning but as I've gotten somewhat aquainted with my anxiety symtoms I often think that they're just anxiety whenever they pop up now. If I get some new symtoms I try to at least wait for a few days before calling about it.

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