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So consumed by health anxiety

(18 Posts)
Lostatsea28 Mon 13-Mar-17 10:24:25

If I even hear the word cancer, if I see a story of someone passing away on Facebook, anything like that, I'm just filled with dread. I try to avoid seeing/hearing things but the more I try to avoid them, the more I seem surrounded by it. I just have this sick worried feeling so often. Like right in the pit of my stomach. I can't shake it off.

I have symptoms but I'm hoping these are just side effects of my anxiety, but what if they're not?

I've tried exercising, eating healthily, really taking care of my own well being but I'm still so consumed by this.

Is there anyone out there who has been through this and come out the other side?

I feel like I'm losing myself.

user1488794856 Mon 13-Mar-17 10:29:12

Yes I have been through this and can tell you that you will get through it.
I spent years convinced I had ms and it was completely consuming.
I can completely relate to you comment about avoiding the topic but it finding you anyway be it through Facebook posts, a flippant comment from a friend or something on the news, I used to feel like I was being stalked by my own fears.
Have you looked into conversion disorder or somatoform disorders, you may find some comfort in knowing that health anxiety is a real thing and that you aren't good by crazy!
I ended up in counselling for mine and whilst I think I may always be an anxious person and have my wobbles, it doesn't run my life anymore.

IHeartKingThistle Mon 13-Mar-17 10:29:39

It's awful, and anxiety can give you so many physical symptoms that you end up in a vicious circle.

I have largely got a handle on mine. The only thing that worked was this- when I get a worrying symptom and my brain immediately thinks the worst, I give myself 10 days. I have ever permission not to worry about it for 10 days. If at the end of the 10 days the symptom is still there, I go to the GP.

I have done this countless tunes in the last few years, and been to the doctor about twice, and am fine. I really hope this can help but I know stopping worrying is the hardest bit. Hugs.

IHeartKingThistle Mon 13-Mar-17 10:30:12

Times not tunes!

lovechocolate123 Mon 13-Mar-17 21:58:45

I am exactly the same. It's horrible. Had a course of CBT which helped a little but not cured. I hate feeling like this feel like my life is passing me by xxx

lovechocolate123 Tue 14-Mar-17 06:25:08

I am struggling at the moment. Convinced I have ovarian cancer. I have had a blood test a year ago which came back negative and seen countless doctors but I just keeping thinking they must be wrong and not listening to me. Sometimes I just want to curl up and cry. I find it difficult because I have two children and no one to confide in xxxx

sniffle12 Tue 14-Mar-17 08:46:00

I have been through this many times. Firstly it's helpful to understand the mechanism behind health anxiety. All anxiety is the result of perceiving a threat to your survival. The thing that most anxious people then naturally try to do is control that threat. Cancer is a massive threat to our survival, and, beyond living healthily and being vigilant for symptoms, we cannot control it. That's naturally quite terrifying for an anxious person, who tend to ramp up the 'vigilance' in an attempt to stay in control.

I have found certain questions/thinking patterns which are helpful to me when I'm in this state, for example:

Am I this worried about others?
Am I spending my days worrying that my mum/friend/boss/David Beckham has a secret cancer they're not aware of? If not, why am I doing this to myself? Try to act rationally towards the likelihood of cancer in yourself the way you would towards anybody else in your life. Try to tell yourself what you would tell them if they had similar concerns.

Sometimes the only thing to do when faced with a fear is to face the fear head on and accept it. What's the worst that can happen? I will die. Which is going to happen to us all some day anyway. I have had the good fortune already to live a longer, and a significantly better life, than many people in other parts of the world and indeed this part of the world. We all take risks every single time we leave the house and could equally get hit by a bus tomorrow. Which leads on to...

If the worst did happen, would I have wanted to spend my healthy years like this?
Anticipate what you might regret if you were suddenly gone tomorrow. Certainly number one would probably be spending your days fretting and worrying rather than just enjoying your blessings. If you suffer from a hyper-awareness of death, try to 'flip it' so instead you see it as a duty to yourself to live life to the full in case anything does happen, instead of fretting about what's going to happen and when.

Avoid the news
I don't read stories about cancer or premature death or even really death at all. As the news doesn't report about every person who lives a long, full life, or gets a serious illness but recovers, it represents a skewed view and will only feed our anxieties further.

Its all ultimately about letting go of the need to control your health to an impossible extent. Take care of your body, visit the GP if anything worrying occurs, take any offer of routine checkups or screenings, but otherwise accept the remainder is out of yours and everybody's control and take hold of your blessings in life and cherish them. Good luck smile

ilovechocolate07 Tue 14-Mar-17 21:42:22

Hi, I have been there and still am. In addition to my general anxiety and bdd I have health anxiety that started when the optical saw pigmentation on my retina and said it linked to colon cancer. I went to an opthalmogist who said I was within normal range. Then I have enlarged lymph nodes in my neck. Had an ultrasound and a camera down my nose and they have said poss allergies and come back know if enlarged or spread and if I let myself think about any of this I become ill. I had written my life off a couple of years ago and tried to plan what would happen once I'm gone. Was in a really bad place but I'm much better now. I'm not 'cured' because these thoughts do return and I have a hard time letting go but I'm still here when I thought I wouldn't be. I would say please do not Google or read any stories with the word in the title. Keep yourself as healthy as possible and take each day as it comes. Like a previous poster said, you can't stop others making flippant comments but you can try your best not to dwell and to try to shift your focus onto something else. Hugs xxx

QueenFuri Wed 15-Mar-17 11:11:35

I could have written this a scan showed I have a thickened womb and suggested endometriosis. This has tipped me over the edge I am convinced I have cancer 100% utterly convince yet I have a little voice saying no I don't. I'm having another scan but the thought of being ill is.making me ill I'm also having a sciatica flare up and in pain all day everyday and the painkillers have made me constipated however my brain is telling me it's the cancer spreading. My brain is fried with it and I'm. Exhausted with over thinking. The GP prescribed me propranolol for the physical symptoms but I need something for the mental side I can not go on like this. I hope your ok it's horrible to feel like this flowers

lovechocolate123 Wed 15-Mar-17 21:23:47

Queenfuri- how long have you felt like this? My HA started about 18 months . Have you had any counselling for it? X

7Days Wed 15-Mar-17 21:33:22

I have felt very similar. Cbt, counselling and mindfullness has helped hugely. It took a while though and it took a lot of work. Im still on the highest dose of sertraline, over 2 years on but i dont care. I'm normal again and enjoying life. You don't have to live this it's awful.

QueenFuri Wed 15-Mar-17 22:55:00

Lovechocolate I've always had mild anxiety and depression then my mum died suddenly 18 months ago and I was okayish until the 1st anniversary and since then I've got steadily worse. I've never had counselling I was offered it once from the GP buy never heard anything back.

harverina Fri 17-Mar-17 12:51:40

I have/am experiencing the same. I've always been a bit of worrier about health but not to think extent that I do now.

It got a little worse after I had kids - I think you are more aware of your mortality when you have kids.

But it has really been since dd1 suffered anaphylaxis and then a brain haemorrhage that i would have called it health anxiety.

In the last year I've had motor neuroma, breast cancer, leukaemia, heart problems...I could go on and on. I go from one symptom to another. This week my muscles are aching and I know it's from being so tense.

I decided that I needed help with it and went to see my GP last October and am now getting CBT - I don't think the CBT itself is helping but I think being open and honest with someone about how I feel has helped a lot.

Snugglepalace Fri 17-Mar-17 13:03:17

I am exactly the same. I am always convinced I have something or will get something. I had a tooth removed 3 days ago and it's become infected and I am panicking about it thinking I'm going to get a blood infection. It doesn't help that my anxiety causes so many physical symptoms like headaches, aches & pains, visual issues, IBS etc which perpetuates the anxiety even further, it's a vicious cycle I can't seem to break confused

lovechocolate123 Sat 18-Mar-17 22:28:03

It is definitely a vicious cycle that is so difficult to break. I did a course of CBT with a therapist which helped but I am definitely not cured. I keep thinking all the doctors have missed something

Oldmum55 Sun 19-Mar-17 02:41:04

I'm a lifelong sufferer. When I was single I just worried about myself, any symptoms would have me scouring the medical encyclopedia (no google then) . When I had kids I stopped worrying about myself (well most of the time) and started worrying about my children. I've refused counselling because I know it won't help, instead I don't wait too long before seeing the GP or A&E, that way I won't give it chance to fester. I try not to read about diseases etc as I only end up dwelling on it. As others have said it can get better but you are never free of these anxieties.

Ethellsmum Sun 19-Mar-17 19:56:48

I suffer too. I have since my 4th child was born 4 years ago. It is awful. I'm ok for a very short period and then wham! It's back.

LordTrash Sun 19-Mar-17 20:04:27

I have bouts of this - it kicked off when dd1 was being assessed for ASD and then lost a lot of weight in a very short space of time, which led me to worry about her having cancer. Blood tests revealed she was fine, but somehow this then moved on to anxiety about my own health - I guess her vulnerability made me anxious about what might become of her if anything happened to me.

It's been sheer hell at times, but I'm slowly getting on top of it, I think. Having said that, I'm all over Dr Google this weekend because my period's come a week early and I'm worried it's something else. But I am NOT PANICKING. Yeah, like hell I'm not.

There's some great advice on this thread - the PP's point about not wanting to spend your healthy years feeling like this is what I keep coming back to. I also try to focus on those around me rather than myself as much as possible. Good luck, OP, I know how awful it can be.

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