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Is there anyone around for a friendly chat?

(26 Posts)
Buzzfrightyears Fri 12-Jul-19 15:05:25

I am a regular poster recently NC. I will only give vague details as this could be outing but I think it would help to write it down too.
I work in a job where I regularly see rare illnesses including cancer, I hear horror stories on a daily basis about someone who had a lump on their wrist and was dead a few weeks later from cancer. I can’t really stress how exposed I am to this every day.
While I was pregnant second time around I started having thoughts of, what happens to me if I die during childbirth and what will my husband tell my older son? I was actually fine but during labour was lying in a semi reclined position (due to monitoring) and all my weight was on my tailbone. It hurt! But we were all fine.
I’ve been mainly OK since my second birth but about 8 weeks ago I got horrendous constipation and strained a ridiculous amount. I had a load of piles appear along with this awful pressure/full feeling in my rectum. I went to the Gp, she had a look and said I’d got piles and gave me cream. They are just inside, and I can see them with a mirror too.
Now I’ve had a bad back for as long as I can remember but for the last few months going from sitting to standing, or anything that initially puts pressure on my tailbone then takes it off, causes me a sharp shooting pain. I also had pelvic girdle pain, this hasn’t really resolved and today I went for a physio appointment about it all.
The GP feels I have health anxiety and I know she is right. I had a longer than usual period and immediately presumed I had cervical cancer. I assumed I had bowel cancer when I was constipated, and now I’m terrified about the pain in my back and bum.
I know rationally that I’m probably ok - but, my mind is scaring me. I’ve gone from being a mostly sane, mostly rational person to someone who is imagining having to tell my son I’m dying, how I can save now so my husband isn’t without money when I’m gone, etc etc. I feel like I’m losing my mind. I have a counselling appointment but it’s not for several weeks. When these thoughts start they are so distressing and I really feel like I’m going through it - so for example I imagine having to tell my son I’m dying and it reduces me to tears, I get sweaty, snappy, irritable. I just don’t know what to do. I also distrust health professionals as I’ve heard (through work) so many stories of GPs missing things. I have also had several family members die from cancer which I know isn’t helping things.
Please can anyone talk me down? I know I sound crazy. I was even worried about posting this in case in a few months it turns out I am seriously ill - and people look back at this post and say ‘she was told she just had health anxiety!’ I know I sound crazy and to be honest I feel it. I’m lonely and have no one else I can talk to. I’d appreciate any comforting words sad

Saggingninja Fri 12-Jul-19 15:15:39

Oh you poor love. You're not the only person who goes from, 'I wonder if I've got constipation?' to imagining what kind of music will be played at your funeral.

When you say that your GP thinks you have health anxiety - do you still feel you can go to her with serious concerns like the back pain you have now? Remember that it's far better to speak up about your health fears than stay quiet and if you DO have something, it gets much worse. So it's important that your doctor is sympathetic and doesn't belittle you.

Also remember that there have been numerous cases of doctors getting it wrong and not diagnosing something serious.

It's great that you're going to counselling. If you have always had this particular concern, then it's probably rooted in people close to you getting really ill and you feeling that you have to stay 'alert' all the time.

But you're really not the only person who thinks like this - hugs.


Malibucyprus Fri 12-Jul-19 15:28:58

I suffer with health anxiety, I’ve diagnosed myself with several serious illnesses over the last 3 years. I have been utterly convinced. I’m still here though 🤷🏻‍♀️

Anxiety can bring on genuine physical symptoms, I can read about someone with stomach cancer and for the next month I’ll have stomach issues (this is my current fixation).

That being said, you should always get symptoms checked out.

I’ll offer a hand hold, health anxiety is bloody horrible!!

Buzzfrightyears Fri 12-Jul-19 15:29:40

Thank you for the reply.

It really helps to know I’m not the only person who does this. In fact I’ve orobably always done it - but now it’s eating up my mind a lot during the day and I can’t get it out of my head.
I already went about the piles and then again about the back pain. She thinks I altered my posture and the difficult birth is causing the back pain, which is why I’m having physio. I suppose in an ideal world (or at least in MY ideal world) id get an X-ray and scan to check for cancer - I know that sounds crackers but it’s all I’m ever scared/concerned about. The Gp was very sympathetic and was also a mom so kind of understood where my fears were coming from regarding leaving my children.

I do feel I’m on high alert all the time. I get a bruise and assume leukaemia - it’s just exhausting and I’m so so tired of being scared and worried and thinking all the time. I feel like I’m losing my mind. sad thank you for the reply x

Buzzfrightyears Fri 12-Jul-19 15:33:29

Thank you also for your reply @malibucyprus
It really is horrendous. I was fixated on my fertility during the time I was ttc and although that was upsetting and stressful I kind of got through it. Now I have kids my fixation is always who will look after them if I die?
I also do exactly that - some days I have stomach pains and rectal pain (my fixation was/is bowel and anal cancer, not sure why) however I have noticed if I am out for the day I have no symptoms - I went to a summer fair last weekend and felt fine all day. Then I spent a day at home with my little baby and spent all day thinking I had pains here, there, everywhere!
When I had dodgy periods I had uterine/cervical cancer - Now I’ve moved onto spine/bone cancer and bowel cancer.
It’s literally driving me mad. I’m aware how crazy that sounds. I’m the one people always come to for advice, when they’re going through divorce etc. When the hell did this happen to me sad

picklemepopcorn Fri 12-Jul-19 15:57:39

Can I suggest you forget about 'health' anxiety, and just think about (and treat) anxiety?

I have similar thoughts, long dark imaginings of 'what would happen if...' with full details- of coping afterwards, funeral music etc.

Try and ignore the health bit, and address your anxiety generally. Do yoga and have a nice bath with candles, go and see a funny show, walk in the countryside- whatever you can build into your life which entertains and distracts you, and allows you to de stress.

Concentrate on feeling well and relaxed, rather than on proving you have/haven't got various illnesses.

Malibucyprus Fri 12-Jul-19 16:11:05

@Buzzfrightyears my anxiety symptoms vanish when I’m occupied too. If I’m out n about with others I feel fine, as soon as I sit still they kick in again.

It’s mind over matter sometimes, and its easy to say just keep busy, but there are times when it’s impossible to busy your mind. I lie in bed worrying most nights.

I agree with the above, about removing the health part and treating anxiety in general. Although that’s not always possible, I finally plucked the courage to see my GP this week and was told my anxiety wasn’t “bad enough for treatment” so I’m trying to self help.

Have you tried any online CBT courses?

AliceRR Fri 12-Jul-19 16:25:06

I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I think I’m dealing with something similar. I got pregnant with my first child last summer and worried about everything. Everything was fine then and it was just anxiety (which I didn’t realised I had ‘til I got pregnant) but then the day before my due date I went to hospital with reduced baby movements and my baby had died. I’m now even more anxious. Since the night I gave birth to my baby I have to check if my husband is breathing or I assume he’s probably not alive. When I had a UTI after giving birth I assumed I had a uterus infection that would mean I’d be infertile. I’m TTC again but convinced I won’t be able to get pregnant or if I do something will go wrong. If I have an upset stomach I worry I’ve got something seriously wrong (I think I might have IBS or something but think the worst). I don’t know what to suggest but for me the worst has happened once so it could so easily happen again.

Not sure what I can say to help but I feel for you and you’re not alone.

I found counselling helped a bit. I’m doing yoga now and feel better generally with that. I find exercise makes me feel better anyway. Im trying to do the little things that make me feel better like a massage or getting my nails done and that helps me have a more positive outlook generally.

I think some of us are more prone to anxiety anyway but if it’s affecting your life substantially or bothering you a lot then I’d suggest discussing it further with gp or seeking counselling. BUT if you’re really worried about something in particular re your health then see the doctor and see them again if you’re not happy even if only to set your mind at rest.

Toofaroutallmylife Fri 12-Jul-19 16:37:49

It sounds from your post that you have an appointment with a counsellor coming up, even though it’s not for a while, so that’s a positive first step.

In the meantime, I found the book “A Dummy’s Guide to CBT” very helpful so it might be worth having a look at that?

I had CBT for my anxiety about a year ago. My counsellor assessed that I had generalised anxiety disorder, but I’m sure that a lot of the issues are similar.

One of the things I was encouraged to do was to address the false beliefs I had about anxiety. One of those is that “Worrying keeps me safe”. Do you think that there is an element of that in your fears? In other words, do you think that if you didn’t worry ill health would “catch you out”?

The other saying I found helpful was “Thoughts are powerful but they aren’t real”. In other words, your anxious thoughts can generate powerful reactions, but they are (until proved otherwise) not facts.

Hope that helps a bit - I know it’s really tough flowers

Buzzfrightyears Fri 12-Jul-19 17:06:21

@Malibucyprus exactly, I have two little ones and it’s hard to keep my mind busy when I’m playing games with them etc, I often find my mind wandering and I get distracted by my worries. Bedtime too is a big thing, I have a little baby next to me otherwise I’d put the light on and read!

@AliceRR I’m so sorry for your loss!! I can’t imagine what it must have been like. You sound very brave. I too have the ‘the worst already happened so it can happen again’ fear - I can’t say much in my post but I have lost several family members to cancer or serious illnesses so it feels almost.. I don’t know possible that it could happen again? It’s so hard. Maybe there’s an element of post traumatic stress for us both. I wish you every luck ttc flowers

Buzzfrightyears Fri 12-Jul-19 17:08:31

@Toofaroutallmylife you are exactly right. Because I’ve had some bad luck previously with family members, and because of my job, I feel I need to be alert all the time. I feel like I need to keep going to the Gp just to be checked or just ‘in case’ because of my kids - I worry if I don’t go, the ‘cancer will spread’ and it’ll be too late to help me. That sounds so ridiculous when I wrote it down but that’s generally my train of thought in a nut shell so having you understand really helps.

bobstersmum Fri 12-Jul-19 17:20:34

You are not alone op there are lots of us like this, me included! I have the fear that you do of leaving my children behind. I have self diagnosed so many times, obviously always worst case scenario. I think cbt is the answer.
@Alice, I am so sorry to hear of your devastating loss, sending you flowers

Lougle Fri 12-Jul-19 17:52:12

Do you think your job is helping? There are times when you should move on because the money isn't worth it. I am a nurse and I know that, for e.g. working nights was making me ill. So I stopped. Is there an opportunity to change to something less morbid? (Says the poster who spends 50% of her working time around death confused).

Buzzfrightyears Fri 12-Jul-19 18:17:57

No, my job definitely does NOT help. However I’ve got an amazing manager who lets me swap and change whatever I need to, and hours which mean I can do the school run (I’m a nurse too)

Lougle Fri 12-Jul-19 18:37:09

Ooh you must tell me what you do! I might want to do what you do!

Lougle Fri 12-Jul-19 18:38:23

Sorry, that completely missed the point blush. I understand the need for flexibility, though. It's why I do my job.

Buzzfrightyears Fri 12-Jul-19 18:46:15

To be honest it’s why I went for the job in the first place. It’s really hard to find a flexible job with a good manager as a nurse isn’t it? I don’t work on a ward if that helps. I’m more in the background!

Lougle Fri 12-Jul-19 19:11:50

Me too! I'm really curious about what you do now!

SilverTheCat Fri 12-Jul-19 19:16:57

Yes I understand. I'm similar to you. Mine started when both my parents became unwell with cancer around a decade ago. It's maybe worsened since they both died earlier this year - I recognise this has caused a spike in my health anxiety

The sane side of my brain is able to give myself a good talking to most of the time but bloody hell, I'm SO BORED of health anxiety. It's the pits.

'Ooh back a bit stiff!' <must be secondary bone cancer>

'Hmm, heavy period, not had that before. But then I'm 47 so menopause looming in the next few years' <must be womb cancer>

And so on and so forth. So I get it op

Buzzfrightyears Fri 12-Jul-19 20:06:35

@SilverTheCat that’s exactly it. Every single twinge is something dreadful. I never thought about mental health problems, selfishly, but it is so TIRING. I scratch my neck and subconsciously feel for lumps.. I am just exhausted being this way! Have you found anything to help you?

SilverTheCat Fri 12-Jul-19 20:36:47

I accept I'll have spikes with it so I try and just go with it. I don't want counselling because I honestly don't need it. It's not for me.

I manage it with that wanky phrase 'self care.' So, for me, that's nice oil filled baths, buying new books to read, err buying treats on a fairly regular basis, distraction techniques basically. I don't go to the doctor with anything unless it requires attention, so I'm well able to distinguish what's a health anxiety flare up and what's something that may be real

In January I found a breast lump. First time ever. And to say I freaked out is an understatement. I was up all night crying and almost hyperventilating. Imagining leaving the kids etc. I called the doctor the next morning in a right state and she booked me in for that afternoon but managed to calm me down on the phone. Asked what the lump felt like and was actually able to say she wasn't concerned. And in my appointment, she felt it and said she'd refer me because she always did but it categorically wasn't cancer. She was right

Didn't stop me having almost a fortnight of panicking though. Like you said, it's just tiring

Buzzfrightyears Fri 12-Jul-19 20:39:21

I’m really sorry about what you’ve been through - I’m glad you’re ok. For me I’m not able to distinguish what’s me over reacting and what’s not - I worry that if I don’t act on every little single thing, it’ll be the worst and I’m missing it. reading books and playing games on the laptop are pretty good distractions for me but obviously I’m not able to always do those things so I’m hoping that the counselling fills that gap.

Malibucyprus Fri 12-Jul-19 20:45:27

Im constantly checking for lumps too. Every little pain sets me off poking the area, so then it hurts all the more because I’ve irritated it. It’s a horrible, nasty, viscous circle to be stuck in.

Have you spent any time on the nomorepanic forum? I don’t post on there, but sometimes it makes me feel slightly better that there are others out there that go through the same.

wineandsunshine Fri 12-Jul-19 20:50:41

Hi op, I just wanted to give you my experience. I suffered with what I thought was health anxiety for years, from stomach cancer to a brain tumour (and all associated tests). It was draining.
Then I started counselling and spoke about my fear of my children being without me etc, and was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder.
It made me realise that my health wasn't the real problem but it was almost a way of justifying how I felt.
Anyway, the sessions really helped, I tried techniques such as mindfulness and letter writing. It has really helped me manage the anxiety.
I hope you do find some positivity from counselling and you don't have to wait long x

comeonletsgo Fri 12-Jul-19 21:10:21

I had a similar experience in a previous job. I was working within a neurological setting & saw a lot of young people with tumours etc. My health anxiety spiralled and I began having awful migraines which I naturally assumed was sinister (it wasn't and was almost definitely caused by the stress).

I left the job and have been so much better for the last 5 years as a result. It was a shame because I liked the job & was good at it but it was not worth the anxiety it caused.

I also did a course of CBT which was worth its weight in gold. I am a much more 'rational thinker' as a result.

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