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Any Health Anxiety suffers here?

(14 Posts)
MmeThenardier Mon 04-Mar-13 20:21:21

thunksheadontable amazing story. Really quite inspiring. Esp this bit

nor do I think superstitiously they might be a harbinger of doom in their own right.

which I always feel is kind of a block to progress.

I really identify with some of the happiness/sadness stuff. I hate that these sort of feelings can detract from how special a moment is.

Samu2 you need to get on to the CBT stuff. I've found it incredibly useful and can't believe that I read the list of things that people describe and think 'OMG I do everyone of them'.

My two absolute favourite techniques which may be useful for you next time you think you have cancer are:

1 If a friend came and told you about these symptoms, what would you say?
2 How much money would you bet you had cancer?

ok there are loads of techniques, these are just two that I like and there's bound to be things that appeal to you personally.

Also you are obviously under a great deal of stress at the moment and I think this always exacerbates mental health issues.

Samu2 Wed 27-Feb-13 08:07:15

Thank you SO much for your reply. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to help.

I have to take my boy to the doctors in a bit so I reply again a bit later but you have given me so much food for thought and I will take a look at that course!

You are amazing! Thanks again xx

thunksheadontable Tue 26-Feb-13 16:18:43

Samu2:

I don't think I will ever be 100% free of this any more. I fight so so hard every bloody day and some days I feel in control and other days I feel like I am just waiting to die. My life is on hold because I am waiting to get cancer.

I suppose where I am at is that I now KNOW I will always have these worrying thoughts but I no longer see them as disordered, dysfunctional or meaningful and my life is not on hold because of them, they now have no bearing on what I will or won't do with my life or how well I will be able to enjoy it. I don't easily identify with them, think they define me or my experience nor do I think superstitiously they might be a harbinger of doom in their own right.

So earlier today I had a brief period of time, say five minutes, where I was really in the grip of fear.. the trigger was looking at my baby's nose and thinking it looked really flat and thinking as he had a fall today he had broken it. I had a brief whoosh of racy thoughts like: "what if it stops his breathing and he dies? what if they do an xray and think I abused him and take my other son off me? what if... etc etc" but I was aware of them arising and they just passed through.. then I dropped my awareness into my body and found the fear and just sort of looked at it, found its edges, tried to feel my way into it and how it was today.. all while sat there feeding ds2 and picking up toys off the floor and just generally getting on with it, and without having to leave or be overwhelmed or anything. Then it just weakens and goes and it sort of feels like when you've had a strong headache or a hangover and the relief you get when the symptoms go...

The feeling is there, but the fight (for now) is gone. I am told that sometimes it will come back and that is why it is necessary to "keep on taking the meditation" but honestly, if you had told me six months ago I would ever, ever say that I could genuinely have distance from it I would have laughed in your face. I understood intellectually I had to let go/stop struggling etc but there was no hope I could actually do it.

There is always hope!

thunksheadontable Tue 26-Feb-13 16:08:26

Recall, that description of thinking they are going to die in a moment of happiness is EXACTLY how I felt. Exactly. The thought will still pop in occasionally, like the other day I saw a baby book with a space for first birthday pictures and automatically had this pang of actual grief that ds2 wouldn't make it to then, as though it were inevitable he wouldn't (he is 8 months)... but now although the physical sensation of fear is more or less the same (sharp, cold, all through me, like someone walked on my grave), there is another part of me that has a sort of "Silly Old Bear" response to it and can see it for what it is. This doesn't make it pleasant but my relationship to the feeling is different so I can let it be even if it is quite strong.

I remember a breakthrough in CBT being a session where I suddenly GOT that actually it is normal to feel these intense feelings of fear and almost panic when you consider your children dying, you are supposed to feel as though someone walked on your grave.. but I think I used to react to it as if it was a terrible thing to think, worrying: "why do I think this? why can't I be happy? why do I have to be so maudlin?" and so on and on, not even entirely consciously. I remember when ds2 first smiled, I would feel this joy followed by this feeling that he would die and it was at times physically painful to look at him and then I felt guilty to feel that way!

As well as mindfulness, one of the things that helped was this book based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT (said like the word, not as an acronym). It helped me be more realistic and balanced about what sort of parent I am based on looking more dispassionately at the evidence e.g. going through specific incidences in which I was stressed or troubled and looking at what happened logically, but also in terms of setting out the values of who I want to be as a mother...

ACT is about learning to mindfully accept your strong negative emotions, experiences and feelings without needing to react to them or allowing them to determine your course of action unless you choose for them to do so: to feel the fear and do it anyway, so to speak. I spent quite a bit of time having done the work in this book spending time with ds2 where I would give him a baby massage and spend time playing with him being mindful of all the feelings in a non-judgemental way, both the surges of joy and flashes of pain, and I realised that both would arise, peak and fall away and both are just, well, life. Anything you love as purely as a child will also cause you potential pain. We could live without suffering but then we would live without happiness too, they are opposite sides of the same coin so to speak.

None of this was easy, it was actually pretty stressful to go through all these things - it isn't a quick fix. I was lucky to be having CBT weekly with a therapist I liked and felt I could trust and I had CPN visits fortnightly too, these kept me ticking over. In the early days when I listened to mindfulness tapes, I found them incredibly difficult and I felt despairing at times. I couldn't really do it every day as it was overwhelming. Somehow it did sink in over time though, and once I sort of managed to do it a bit more regularly, say 4 times a week of a 20 minute meditation plus a bit of reading about it or listening to books related to the subject on Audible, it started to make changes.

The big change though was going to an actual Mindfulness evening - I go to a drop in class every fortnight and have done a drop in day with others and it made so much more sense. This helped me make the final commitment to daily practice and now I do it every day. If I don't have time for a formal practice, say if the kids are ill or dh has to be out and it just can't be managed, I will try to do mindful tasks e.g. have a cup of tea I am mindful of, or sit with the baby and be mindful for an extended period of time or do the cooking or washing in silence in this way. There is an American book called <<prepare to cringe>> Momfulness which is very Christian/Western in focus and although I am not religious, many of the "practices" in it are very practical, like ones for washing your baby, or sitting watching your children play or making time to look into their eyes when they are talking to you etc etc. My 3 year old thinks it is hilarious when I go silent and will contrive all sorts of ways of engaging me but I can "look" at it more clearly when I am not talking, weirdly! If I could answer him back I'd probably shout at him to naff off out of the kitchen or some such!

I have also signed on to do the 8 week actual course in April and have been doing an Online course in between - this one, which you can pay for with PayPal.

It definitely requires effort, commitment and perseverance - a bit like training for a sport or something like that. No quick fix but I have definitely found it worth it. Good luck!

Samu2 Sun 24-Feb-13 22:38:55

Thunks- Thank you smile You are an a inspiration. I did a few sessions in my group on mindfulness but I need to get my book out and actually start doing it again.

Thanks to everyone else who replied as well, I appreciate hearing your experiences.

Samu2 Sun 24-Feb-13 22:36:43

Thankfully, I am not like this over my children's health. I am very logical over them. I am just always so scared I am going to leave them motherless.

My GP is pretty understanding but I do feel like he is starting to have enough of me. I do listen to him, I don't craze for test, if he tells me I have nothing to worry about it I accept it, but every time I see him I have another cancer fear.

I was on the waiting list for CBT but they offered me a pre CBT session to explain it but I declined as I know all about CBT as I had been a part of a self help OCD/CBT group so I knew the basics. There was some confusion, because I declined that session they removed me off the waiting list completely so I am in the process of getting that sorted out.

I have more better days than I do bad days at the moment but I don't think I will ever be 100% free of this any more. I fight so so hard every bloody day and some days I feel in control and other days I feel like I am just waiting to die. My life is on hold because I am waiting to get cancer.

It has been a bad year. My son who is 9 just had to have a blood test as he has a lymph node that won't go down and it's been there a while. He is so scared because his dad had lymphoma cancer so he is scared he has the same. I think we all just feel a bit shell shocked right now, it proved to us just how fragile life is. I like to be able to control things, but I can't control cancer.

Sorry for any typos or bad grammar, I am posting with a puppy sitting on my lap trying to bite my moving fingers smile

BeaWheesht Sun 24-Feb-13 22:07:14

Yes I do, mostly to do with my kids health, its so awful. CAnt write more just now as am shattered but will be back Tomorrow

recall Sun 24-Feb-13 22:02:09

thunksheadontable that is so inspirational for me, I have crippling anxiety regarding my children's health, even a common cold has me thinking it is life threatening. I just feel sick with fear if they are even slightly ill. To hear you say that you can walk up to your deepest fears and look them in the eye without being overwhelmed by them is amazing, I so wish I could do that. I am going to check out mindfulness. The anxiety is spoiling my life, when my children do something lovely and it makes me smile, that wonderful feeling is instantly ruined with thoughts of "shame they will die" the anxiety sabotages my happiness every time....it is a bully sad

mylittlepuds Sun 24-Feb-13 21:50:29

* bound to happen

mylittlepuds Sun 24-Feb-13 21:50:10

Yes I have HA. It's awful. Every cancer story you hear you think "well it's bound to aplenty to me too,". I just can't imagine being lucky enough to make it through life without a terminal illness! I mean how depressing is that?! Many people do...

I've starter reading The Power of Now. Essentially mindfulness. It is helping. When the worry starts you almost mock your thoughts and think "and there I go again...worry, worry, worry." Observe how many times your thoughts suck you in. You are NOT your thoughts - you're so much more smile

thunksheadontable Sat 23-Feb-13 20:27:16

Hi Sam, I had a dx of perinatal OCD this year and I think I probably have tendencies (and have had) since early childhood. The most recent report kind of put them together so "symptoms of an obsessive compulsive nature primarily related to the health of her children".

Mindfulness has sort of saved my life. I have had to do it FOR A LONG TIME but a year later, I can say that I can absolutely think of my child dead and feel the fear and realise it would be completely horrendous and awful and yet have a completely normal day and actually even enjoy most of it.

Mindfulness isn't really about changing thoughts so much as sitting still and "eavesdropping" on your mind for extended periods, bringing your attention to the breath or some other thing you are focusing on (e.g. the contact your body is making with the floor, every single aspect of an activity like eating a raisin, drinking tea or washing dishes) every time your mind goes "somewhere else" e.g. isn't focused in the here and now. The definition is something like "nonjudgemental awareness of your experience as it unfolds moment to moment as if your life depended on it". It is HARD WORK. When I started it, I found it excruciating at times, it made me super restless... but now I have great peace from it sometimes. More than that, it allows me to walk RIGHT UP to my deepest fears and look them in the eye without being overwhelmed by them.

I did this in conjunction with 25 sessions of CBT and meds (100mg sertraline due to breastfeeding, declined to go any higher which really annoyed my psych but that's another story..) and I would say I am on the tail end of it now.

It is a rocky road but you have had a terrible year and it is just an inevitable response to stress I think!

ConfusedMummy1 Fri 22-Feb-13 22:43:04

Hi Sam, sounds like you and your family have been through an awful lots lately. HA is something I have had since my DD years ago. I'm always worried about something, checking it all out on google and going to the GP. I've recently had some CBT and therapist told me that people with HA will constantly look for reassurance and when they get it it still doesn't help them and never will.
The key seems to be to change your thought processes because you THINK you have cancer and these thoughts affect the way you feel emationally and physically. Remind yourself that these are only thoughts and thoughts can be changed.
If you feel unwell or something's up give it a chance to resolve on its own, monitor it for a couple of weeks or so before going to GP.

I'm glad the tablets are helping you.

It's not easy and you will have good and bad days but keeping telling yourself that you can handle it!

headinhands Thu 21-Feb-13 23:46:51

Hi Sam. I don't have OCD but have been known to convince myself of all sorts via Dr Google. Have you spoken to your GP etc specifically about your HA?

Samu2 Thu 21-Feb-13 20:59:42

I have had OCD since I was 6 years old. It recently turned into HA and I have had a very bad year with it.

My ex was diagnosed with cancer and had to have a bone marrow transplant and a lot of chemo and that triggered off a huge episode that has lasted a year. I had to see my children watch their father in and out of hospital fighting for his life and it scared me so much that they might have to go through the same with me one day.

I am petrified of cancer and constantly checking my mouth and body for signs and then freaking out over a little spot or something. I have made huge improvements this last 6 weeks or so on my new medication but haven't had the best of days today.

Anyone with me?

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