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Suffering from most awful anxiety attacks re health

(29 Posts)
Fairylea Wed 05-Apr-17 10:32:55

Can anyone relate or help me?

I'm 36 and the last few months I've developed crippling anxiety related to my health. I should add here I have been to my gp and I am waiting to speak to a counsellor.

It started when I experienced a retinal problem - I am very short sighted and woke up one morning with severe flashing lights in one eye and went to eye hospital to have it checked. By then it had stopped and they told me they couldn't explain it but was probably just a tug on my retina and they warned me all about retinal detachment in case I experienced any of the symptoms and told me to come back if I did. That was around November time and since then I've been in a constant state of high anxiety about that worrying I'm going to go blind (they can do a repair operation if they catch it quickly enough but I'm still terrified).

Alongside this I then started to have severe back pain / just under the left side of my shoulder at the back. I also had aches along my jaw and arm. One day it got so bad I very nearly rang an ambulance but instead rang and spoke to my gp and they said to go down.

They did an ecg which was normal, saturation thing which was normal and 4 different lots of blood tests; all of which came back normal. The gp said I had pulled a muscle and was having an anxiety attack.

Since then I am just either in constant pain with my shoulder problem (for which I was told to just take painkillers) or worried about my eyes. I spend so much time in a constant state of very high anxiety, thinking I'm going to have a heart attack and die (my shoulder thing makes me worry about this despite all the tests coming back clear).

I am happily married with two children; one of which has asd and learning difficulties and I am constantly worried about being there for them. I feel like I'm having a daily battle with my own mind just to function. It's really ruining my life.

Any words of wisdom welcome.

ExplodedCloud Wed 05-Apr-17 10:44:54

I can relate. I have anxiety too. I have had an ambulance sent for a panic attack blush and have a dc with ASD. I'm undergoing tests for MS. My fear is that it's the less common type which isn't good at all and that my ASD dc will be left without me. My NT dc would cope with support and DH would cope but I don't know what would happen to my ASD dc. It's bloody scary right now.
I know it's ok to be scared about it. I have beta blockers from my GP which help twice over as they calm me and also make a heart attack less likely.
A relative of mine has had both retinas successfully sorted after detachment and can still see well enough to drive smile

Fairylea Wed 05-Apr-17 11:51:45

Thank you so much for your reply, so much of what you've said rings true to me too!

I am very reassured by your story about the retinal detachment driver! Wow. That's one of the things that worries me so much, I don't ever want to lose my independence.

It's such a worry having children with extra needs as well isn't it. Like you I feel like no one else would be able to care for my child with asd as well as I do. I need to be around as long as possible and I think I am super alert to anything different bodywise because of that.

I wish you all the best with your tests for ms, such a worry for you. flowers

Oh I think I am on the verge of ringing an ambulance about once an hour at the moment blushsad I try and distract myself and see if the panic passes. It's scary feeling so out of control.

I'd like to try beta blockers but no ones talked to me about them. I may go back to the doctor and ask.

ExplodedCloud Wed 05-Apr-17 12:23:14

I remembered too that the two detachment happened a decade apart too so the first repair has held for well over a decade now smile
The beta blockers are propananol. I must take one when the panic starts to overwhelm me and even knowing I have them available really helps.
Good luck.
Just heard my next appointment has been moved forward again. Eek.
My ASD dd has a chance at a good life. She's clever and with the right support I can get her to functioning adulthood. I know I can. I have it too and I know what the challenges are.

Fairylea Wed 05-Apr-17 19:24:46

flowers Thank you so much, reassured by the retinal repair holding for a decade and more. I have a lot of floaters and seem to spend my life obsessing over them and whether I have new ones (possible sign of detachment) etc etc and also they just depress and stress me, I feel like I can't see as well as I used to and everyone keeps telling me I will get so used to them I don't see them anymore but that hasn't happened yet!

Hope your appointment goes well. flowers

I could cope with my anxiety better if I didn't have these physical symptoms, then I could really put it down to anxiety and try and cope better. Arghhhh. I just drive myself crazy all the time.

By the time I go to bed every day I feel like I've run a marathon, the constant state of high adrenaline and fast palpitations is exhausting.

outputgap Wed 05-Apr-17 19:28:39

I really feel for you. I have a dd with asd and have exactly those thoughts about needing to be here. It's really hard.

outputgap Wed 05-Apr-17 19:29:23

I should say that CBT has really helped so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Fairylea Wed 05-Apr-17 20:29:26

Thank you very much. I am hoping to get some cbt, I've got an initial telephone consultation with the counselling service booked for next week and will see what they can offer me.

I am sure most of this stems from having a disabled child to be honest. The feeling of needing to be here is so strong; I feel like I've put myself on high alert for the smallest of things incase they're big things..!

SlB09 Wed 05-Apr-17 21:52:18

You really need to seek some help with CBT, health anxiety is a recognised unique form of anxiety. There is a place for medication such as beta blockers and this may help initially but what you will find is that they then become your coping mechanism.

For long lasting relief from this anxiety/phobia, you need to learn techniques to cope and believe in your own abilities (I had the same thing with moderate agoraphobia and had CBT which was fantastic and I continue to use 3 years later). Often it stems from low self esteem, stress - which may be post traumatic for you and your counselling should help work through this, and results in ruminating repetative thoughts that you cant seem to switch your brain off to and then torture yourself with!

One thing that stuck with me is when the therapist doing the CBT said
'have you ever come up with an answer to all these ifs and buts?'
Me: No
'Even when you have sat for hours thinking it through in minute detail?'
Me: No
'And do you feel better after trying to find an answer?'
Me:No I feel much worse
'Then maybe the answer is not to search for an answer and to not think about it?'

Sounds simple but this kind of just clicked with me, he then went through the evidence to support this theory as it used generally accepted that you would be psychologically harmed by not working through your problems and thinking them to the minutia, but there is now alot of evidence that this isnt the case in most cases of anxiety related illness. He went through techniques to help stop thinking and ruminating with online support and I have to say it has been a godsend and I definately feel more in control of my anxiety.

Health anxiety can be massively debilitating, but I hope that the above provides you with some light at the end of the tunnel, as with the right help you can control your anxiety levels. Best of luck x

bugattiveyron Fri 07-Apr-17 05:07:52

God, yes. I am currently awake as I am convinced that I am in the middle of a heart attack or stroke.
It's so hard to cope.

ChangingStates Fri 07-Apr-17 06:25:03

Health anxiety is horrible. I have it- mostly about my heart & heart attack/failure. I get all they symptoms that go with heart problems but are also anxiety symptoms- so frustrating that so many are the same! I do have a diagnosed tachycardia but have been told it is benign.

My kids do not have SEN but when I'm having a bad episode I freak out that I will die in front of them or they'll find me dead in the morning. Yesterday I had really bad headache that painkillers couldn't get rid of so spent the day worrying I had a tumour or aneurysm... it's so tiring.

I try and use logic to override the anxiety e.g. I felt like this a week/month/year ago and nothing happened or I look up anxiety symptoms on google to reassure myself that that's what's happening - it helps but doesn't stop it. Good luck with your CBT, I hope you get an appointment soon.

Fairylea Fri 07-Apr-17 08:29:30

It's dreadful isn't it. sad

I've spent half the night in pain with my shoulder problem which kick started my anxiety again. Keep thinking the tests the doctors have done are now "old" so may be wrong now and so on. And yet at the same time I know I'm being irrational.

So, so awful.

ChangingStates Fri 07-Apr-17 23:42:19

How are you doing tonight fairy?

Fairylea Sat 08-Apr-17 07:26:33

Hi I'm still struggling on, one half hour at a time..! I'm trying to get through the day in half hours. I think if I can get through one half hour I can get through the next one.

I did go to the doctors yesterday and said that I was still having a lot of pain in my shoulder and he's referred me for physio and given me naproxen. He thinks I might have a frozen shoulder. I think if I can get the pain under control I will feel less anxious about my heart as a lot of my chest pain seems to come from that and the pain is what sends me off into a panic attack. So we will see.

How is everyone else? flowers

Bedezz Sat 08-Apr-17 21:02:24

Hi all and Fairylea. I'm a total newbie to this so please be kind. I'm also suffering from anxiety. I have an 8 month old daughter who was born after 4 and a half years of trying, two years of which were fertility treatment. My anxiety is making me worry that everything is catastrophic. My LO had gastroenteritis a couple of weeks ago and I was obsessing about her poo and convinced myself she had a liver disorder. I've developed a sore boob (I'm currently weaning) and I'm now convinced it's breast cancer as I felt a round lump inside at the side of my boob (are milk ducts round?). There are no physical changes to my boob but I can't shake the awful sick feeling and the trembling. I was harassed by a man while pushing my daughter in her buggy and I was so intimated and too scared to go home and when I was home I was too scared to answer the door in case it was him looking for me and all I could think was what if he attacked me and stole my daughter which led to another nerve attack and I don't/can't believe all the logical arguments that my hubby tries to say to me. I've left a message for a counselling line but they take 3-5 days to respond and I'm slowly going mad. I'm so tired as my daughter slept great when she was a newborn and now she's not a great sleeper. Late to bed as she won't settle, up 3-4 times through the night and then up early. The other night we had a 2am-5am play session as she was wide awake and wouldn't go back down. Fed up with feeling sick, fed up with being so very tired and fed up fending off my nerve attack.

Can anyone help put my mind at rest?

Fairylea Tue 11-Apr-17 21:56:28

Hi Bedezz, sorry I've only just seen your message. Anxiety is so exhausting isn't it, let alone struggling with a child that won't sleep too. flowers How are you doing today? Have you heard from the counselling service?

I am up and down. Thought I was having a better day and then all of a sudden I think about heart attacks (!) and then I suddenly feel all so anxious again! I get cross with myself for getting so worked up.

I had a telephone appointment with the counselling people and they are referring me for cbt sessions, so I'm really hoping they are going to help.

If I feel like this at 36 what on earth am I going to be like at 46/56 etc when I have more reason to worry about my health and heart? sad I don't know how other people live without worrying about these things.

Jamhandprints Tue 11-Apr-17 22:08:33

Same situation here. I think it's partly the massive responsibility of having children and fear of letting them down ( by dying). I have a different "disease" every month and they all seem totally real. It all started with a real health problem but that is now better. I have called an ambulance twice and have had cbt which helped quite a lot. I am much more aware now, and know the panic attack will end soon and I'll be ok. But still all the illnesses seem real and it's so scary. I hope you get some helpful counselling OP and everyone. flowers flowersflowers

Bedezz Tue 11-Apr-17 22:41:02

Hi Fairylea, yes it's tiring worrying about nothing and everything at the same time. The counselling team haven't rung me back yet. If they haven't called tomorrow then I'll ask my GP to recommend a reputable counsellor/CBT therapist and I'll just pay. I think I'm having an ok day today but it's the sinking feeling I get upon waking that gets me down. My problem is I wake up and ask myself if my tummy is hurting today or if I am feeling better today and as if on cue, my tummy starts hurting which then sets off the sinking feeling.

There's another thread going on about intrusive thoughts which I have found incredibly helpful as I'm a bit obsessy and I allow my bad thoughts to take over (what if my daughter has a liver disorder - she doesn't; what if that creepy man is still lurking to do me harm and steal my daughter - I haven't seen him since; what if I don't love my hubby any more - I do still love him, he just pisses me off a lot of the time right now). I'm able to see the sensible arguments at the moment but when they're there and I'm worrying about all these what if scenarios, the fear is real. There's good advice on that thread on how to deal with the unwanted thoughts.

I guess if your health is what your source of worry is, all you can do is look after yourself (physically and mentally) and just check in with the doctor every so often for an MOT. Also a CBT course or just speaking to a counsellor will help. I think other people just have different worries. I also wonder how they seem able to keep a lid on it though! Hope you have more ups than downs tomorrow. x

ssd Wed 12-Apr-17 11:41:52

fairylea, you sound so like me...I wander around the streets looking at older people and being jealous that they have lived this long and thinking they have nothing to worry about now as their kids will be grown up.

it's crazy. I've had cbt for 8 sessions and seen the gp many times and I still worry for Britain about my health. I worry about cancer, I can hardly type the word. I avoid adverts and drama's and book that mention the word. My cbt counsellor said this is avoidance, but I just cant go there. I'm utterly terrified of it and am convinced either I have it or will for sure get it. Even writing that feels like taking a chance. Am just terrified. I know I'm being irrational but that's the way I am. I've had terrible health anxiety and its ever since my mum died. I know how it feels to have your mum die and I just can't put my kids through it. If it happens when they've grown up and don't need me then thats fine, thats life, but not just now, when they rely on me so much. When I have an episode I think about dying and death all the time and how my kids will be when I'm gone. I torture myself.

Its taking over my life and I don't know what to do about it.

alwayslookonthebrightsidebabe Wed 12-Apr-17 12:04:18

Apologies, I read the thread rather fast (DS feeding right now) so sorry if this has been mentioned already...

First of all - I completely sympathise! I have had such anxieties before. Not diagnosed in an official way but I developed a minor illness some time ago and it kick started a whole set of worries about health issues, from asthma fear to heart attack and more. None of it has any foundation - my rational mind sees it. But some times the fear still takes over, say in the middle of the night. However I have been working on controlling it and it is all MUCH better now. Never took any medication for it.

What helped was:
-yoga (any form of exercise would help I guess)
I found my back and shoulder pains (had similar to you) was because of intense stress combined with lack of exercise that led to muscle issues, so 1-2 hours of yoga or Pilates each week helped immensely in both stretching my muscles and making me feel more in control of my body

-speaking to somebody. I had a 10-session weekly meet with a therapist and it really helped a lot in sorting things in my head. Not a miracle cure and they didn't really say anything or provided any solutions per se, but it helped a lot to be able to speak to somebody external about it that doesn't look at me like I am mad. DH is extremely supportive in all of this but some times I know I am overreacting and I don't want to burden him with my anxiety so offloading it all to a third person was a good solution.

I hope you feel better soon!!

earthyambitions Wed 12-Apr-17 12:22:25

I can totally relate to this. I have health anxiety mostly around cancer but also things like motor neurone disease and since I found out I have gall stones pancreatitis too. Mine was triggered by a health scare which turned out to be absolutely fine but my brain just couldn't accept that. I found counselling hugely helpful and my anxiety is currently under control. I have learnt some of the underlying causes of my anxiety and how to recognise when my anxiety levels are increasing as well as some strategies for reducing my anxiety but also crucially how to ride the wave of anxiety. To see it happening and to acknowledge it while remaining detached enough so that it doesn't totally overwhelm me. It has taken time but has been really effective. I have also had really supportive friends and family helping me through it. I honestly feel like I have come out of the other side of it so much stronger than i was before. It will always be there but it no longer controls me.

You have my absolutely sympathy it is a horrible illness to battle but it can be beaten flowers

Fairylea Fri 14-Apr-17 19:45:11

Thank you all, how is everyone today? I will have a look at the intrusive thought thread, I suffer from those too.

I have done a lot of reading about health anxiety and it's interesting to me how people seem to latch on to a particular fear - for me it's heart attacks, for others cancer, and for some it's something else entirely. I wonder why the brain becomes so fixated on one thing and not others?

I did something really daft yesterday- I was putting something away in the dishwasher and managed to cut my hand really badly on a knife that was in there. It is okay now but at the same it literally scared the hell out of me and sent me into a full blown panic attack. I even started a thread about it on here with a photo of it asking if it needed stitches. Basically everyone laughed and said I was being silly blush. I still felt really ill about it all night and struggled to sleep.

Today I just feel dreadful, tired, chest pains, jaw pain, back pain, everything you can think of but trying to be rational I would say a fair bit of that is probably due to clentching various muscles during my panic attack yesterday.

Every day is another battle!

I am trying this visualisation thing which others may think is a waste of time but I'm trying to imagine my anxieties as a little demon walking behind me and when I felt myself starting to get anxious I imagine myself turning round and handing my worry over to this little demon and kicking it away. I know that sounds completely nuts but I am probably completely nuts at the moment so every little helps...! (Hope I don't offend anyone by the "nuts" phrase, I'm just trying to cheer myself up).

Lots of flowers to you all.

ssd Fri 14-Apr-17 20:48:57

hi fairlea, you're so right about fixating on one thing in particular

I'm trying to say to myself, its not cancer I have, its I've realised anxiety is an actual thing

and its bloody orrible

harverina Sat 15-Apr-17 16:52:56

Hi everyone

I am also suffering from health anxiety which has come about due to trauma - or so I am told. My little girl suffered from anaphylaxis twice when she was younger and continue to have sever allergies. Two years ago she algae a brain haemorrhage. Then in October a close family member was diagnosed with a life threatening condition which i won't mention in case it is triggering. It was in October when I found out about my cousin that I really started to suffer from HA. I think the news tipped me over the edge completely.

Since then I have had many conditions - h art problems, various cancers. I ache all over at times and recently began getting night sweats which terrify me.

I've started CBT and have had about 4 sessions. It's been ok - I feel we just chat though that does help me. I've been prescribed beta blockers which I've only just started to take and I am considering anti anxiety meds. I am unsure about taking meds though.

ssd Sun 16-Apr-17 21:50:24

do you find the beta blockers help you and do you take them every day?

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