Support for Health Anxiety/Hypochondria Sufferers
Anyone else get migraines? They drive me crazy, and not because of headaches. Actually, lately I've hardly been getting headaches with them.
I'm being tested for various diseases and neurological disorders, but my doctors all think my symptoms are migraine-related. Which Google tells me COULD be possible (yeah, I dunno, somehow I can't seem to believe what the doctors tell me unless I read about it on the internet), it still sucks, because my symptoms are also things they tell you to go to the ER for.
Basically I have stroke symptoms! It's scary as hell, and I can't exactly go to the ER every time it happens. So I do the "smile" test and the arm-raising test and hope for the best, but it's a crappy way to live, especially when you're a hypochondriac! I can't help but feel like "normal" people would just be able to hear that it's all just from migraines and not obsess with possibly having a stroke or having MS (something I'm being tested for, which again, all my symptoms do fit) constantly.
Anyway. I just got back from a short stay in the hospital (for something completely different though, and I seem to be pretty much okay now) and am just a bit frustrated with being a hypochondriac. And I figured you guys would understand. Thanks for listening, and if any of you guys have unusually-presenting migraines, I'd be interested in hearing about them!
Man, I never though I'd miss the days when my migraines were just agonizing headaches with a spot of photophobia and nausea ;)
Hi, I'm Roxy, I'm 19 years old, For the past few days, I've been feeling really off and it's been freaking me out. I felt something like a bump on my head by my left ear, and am convinced it's a brain tumor. Now whenever I feel pain in my neck below the spot, I am convinced it's a tumor pushing my brain down on it's brainstem. I google and webmd symptoms which panics me even more. When I climb up the stairs, I notice my legs feeling weak. I feel little pains in my neck when I turn my head a certain way. I'm terrified of this bump, and think that it's a tumor causing my neck to hurt. I'm scared to go to sleep at night because I'm afraid of not waking up. When I got up lately, I've felt like I was in a fog, like my thoughts and dreams were going all over the place. I feel displaced at times, like I was here but not really here. I'm worried when I get up because although I can hear, my ears feel clogged up. I feel like there's pressure in my head and it's making me feel like I'm spacing out.
I'm scared because I read up on the symptoms of brain tumors and I fear that this is it. I've been crying all the time and freaking out on my family and boyfriend because I'm so scared. They say the bump is just part of the bone, and that I have anxiety. This is all I think of all the time, I cannot distract myself when reading a book or talking to people. I've been to the doctor twice, and he also says anxiety, but I feel like he could have made a mistake. He checked my body, blood pressure and took a blood sample and said that everything was allright. The nurses at the health center said the same when I arrived there earlier today in a panic. But I feel when I lie down, like there's something in the back of my head or that I'm spacing out, and it terrifies me and I cannot relax. When I get tired, I'm afraid to go to sleep, thinking it's another sign of a brain tumor. The fact that it's near the end of the month and I haven't had my period yet adds on to my worries, because I think it's a sign of cancer and I read brain tumors can cause missed periods sometimes. I called my doctor again today, but I have a feeling he's sick of me already.
And yet, I'm terrified to get an MRI because I'm scared they'll show a fatal tumor, that will rob me of my abilities and fuck up my mental state or that I'll die in like 2 months. I can't stand this stress, as it just happened almost two weeks ago when I started feeling like this. Everyone says its just anxiety, and I wish that were it, because I can't stop thinking about something physically wrong with me.
Has anyone here ever felt this way?
Well it's safe to assume that all of us here have either had chronic or occaisional bouts of hypochondria. At the very least there is interest on our parts to learn more about it or to meet others who are also familiar with this condition. My question is this--Have any of you ever stopped to consider why our anxiety manifests itself this way? Hypochondria is usually linked to other neurological conditions such as generalized anxiety and panic disorder and may even be considered a form of OCD. (I tend to believe that) People with OCD have that manifest in an infinite number of ways. It may be physical, as in a routine they must follow such as touching an object a certain number of times or it may be washing hands repeatedly. With hypochondria, the obsessive behaviors and thoughts are due to health concerns whether real or imagined or exaggerated. But why? Why does our anxiety manifest this way? Ive been thinking about this a good deal lately. Obviously I don't have the answers but I have some ideas. For me, atleast, I know it comes from the fact that there is something dehumanizing about disease. It reduces us to our body parts and our symptoms and you begin to feel like something terrible has come and crept into your body and right under your very nose. You can't help but feel there is a sort of scary betrayal of your own trusted body. If you fear a heart condition or if you fear cancer especially then you can't help but wonder WHY!? Have you ever noticed how many hypochondriacs worry about cancer? I'm one of them for sure and again I think it comes down to that loss of control. It's common and very serious illness to contract, Naturally to a hypochondriac that is a field day in the making. But again, its that fear of not having control. What more extreme way to lose control than over your own body since that is essentially all you have that ensures your existance in this physical world. Still, I'm curious to what you guys think. If we treat this like an OCD of sorts and a condition resulting from our generalized anxiety...Why do you suppose that it manifests this way? Theories?
BTW There is no right or wrong answer. We're just theorizing and obviously people's answers will be different because we're all different despite this commonality ^_^ Please feel free to share!
Hello everyone! I just joined your community today and I must say that it's just great to know that there is this kind of thing out there. I mean, panic/anxiety and hypochondria are quite common and there are no lack of support groups and still I find comfort in knowing that people can be so forthcoming with this. That kind of openness is very good!
So yes, I most CERTAINLY am a hypochondriac. I have been struggling with this since I can remember and the irony of it is that I'm almost never actually sick. Usually when I go to the doctor, it's been years since my last visit and they need to update everything. And yet....A bump...an itch...a weird feeling or sensation...ANYTHING and I will fixate on it. I've lived half my life convinced I'm going to die young and apparently from every kind of cancer or immune deficiency one could possibly imagine. If a family member or friend gets sick, I feel terrible because the first thing that crosses my mind is--CAN I GET THAT?! NOOO!!! And I immediately work to build barriers between us. I've just had a checkup and I'm awaiting the results of my blood test. I went in because I found some small petechia on my skin. (If you don't want to freak out, don't read about petechia! I SWEAR!) My best friend in the world broke out with a Petechial rash and of course that instantly put me in the mind of "UH-OH!!! I MIGHT HAVE THAT TOO!!!" Of course while I'm there, I have this full blown panic attack to the point of them asking me if I've been to therapy for this. (I have and AM about to start that again) Still, apparently now I have to get an echocardiogram because he detected a VERY VERY slight murmur. A 1 on a scale of 1-6 which is usually innocent. He suspects it's stress related. (Makes sense, since I was having a meltdown.) Still...Do you think that makes me feel better? I asked him. "WHAT?! Can I job or will I have a heart attack and die?" He looked at me as if I were insane (Which actually made me feel better)"No..I suggest you do! Take a LONG bike ride. It's good for stress." Well anyway, the verdict will depend on what the echo-thingy says but he suspects I'll be fine.
Well I didn't pay him for suspicions! And of course, until my blood results come back...despite the fact that other than the petechia I feel NOTHING unusual....I will be worrying about...oh all the things I could have....leukemia...anemia (I am a vegetarian soooo that isn't out of the realm of possibility)...etc...
Phew! OK! Well that's a hell of an introduction. I'm happy to be here and sorry that I rambled my way into it. Just be aware that I tend to joke alot about my condition because even if it's awful and exausting and a curse...It's also a little bit funny at times. I hope to get to know you guys in time. A pleasure!
I have a question: Does anybody know anything about cartilage? Does it just randomly start disappearing sometimes? Because for a while, the cartilage in my ear has felt like it's disappearing. Like... it's getting really soft and feeling my outer ear is just made of skin, there's less of the slight 'stiffness' that cartilage usually affords. I've been trying to ignore it up till now, but I was just putting my plugs back in and I touched my ear and totally freaked out. It feels and looks like there's a lot less cartilage. I am hyperventilating because I have no idea what this means, and I keep thinking I'm going to have to have my ear amputated or something.
Also, I've been using a 2.5% hyrdrocortisone cream on that ear for... god, I'm not sure how long now. Maybe almost two years now. I have some weird sort of contact dermatitis or fungus or something on the skin on the inner conch and in the crease of the helix at the top of my ear, and the dermatologist prescribed me the hyrdrocortisone cream, telling me I shouldn't use it for more than a month. A month later however, I went back to the dermatologist without the skin condition having been cleared up, and she just wrote me another prescription, without a word as to her previous warning of not using it for too long. Since I was more concerned with getting rid of the scaliness in my ear, I stopped thinking about her initial warning not to use it for too long and just sort of assumed that if she prescribed it, it must be safe to keep using. Stupid, I know. >_<
Could that have caused this? A quick google search told me that hydrocortisone can cause thinning or softening of the skin, but it didn't say anything about the effects it would have on cartilage. At any rate, I'm not using the hyrdocortisone cream anymore, and I'm going to see a doctor about it ASAP. ( PhotosCollapse )
If you read all that, thank you. I don't know if this is something that really warrants this level of freaking out on my part, but then again, I also sit around worrying that my migraines I have a brain tumor or an aneurysm, and so on and so forth.
Has anything like this ever happened to anyone else out there?
Kind of interesting to stumble on this community. I never really thought of meeting, or reaching out to other folks who have to deal with the same thing I do.
I've been dealing, cursed with hypochondria since I was 14 years old, I'm now nearly 21... and it's not nearly as severe as it i used to be. Although a lot of that has to do that eventually I just kind of came to terms with things, and the thought of illness, death, dying, has now become some sort of branding on my brain.
I occasionally have my moments still, a simple headache, a brain tumor. A neck ache, signs of meningitis. Things like that, but usually subside quickly with that whole acceptance thing. Half of me knows I'm healthy, the other half eats at me and says otherwise. Really it's just become something that puts me into a state of melancholy for awhile until I just forget about it, and move on.
The whole thing has just made me full of social anxiety unfortunately, I should be living every day like its my last, yet I kind of drop into my own little world of fear and just find ways of entertaining myself. I guess there is a lot of psychology to it. Fear of letting people down and dying on them, bullshit like that... nevertheless I really don't have much input on the whole thing. The panic attacks are gone, but it's left a lot of damage is pretty much the peak of it all.
Whenever I'm actually sick, I feel real.
I am pregnant. Three things have me terrified, and I know that probably my fears are baseless. Don't read any more if sexual stuff offends you.
1) I am seriously addicted to orgasms. They are no longer pleasurable, however. They are easier to achieve and a good bit more intense, but the feeling of my uterus contracting is too much. I am very afraid I am going to make myself go into premature labor.
2) The only way for me to achieve orgasm involves nipple stimulation. That can be very dangerous during pregnancy, starting labor with contractions that are intense and can slow down the baby's heart rate. I know that it is unlikely to happen before I come to term, but it worries me that it might.
3) The baby keeps kicking my cervix. I can't help but worry that one of these days my body is just going to let him slip on out.
*I posted this to my LJ but I also wanted to share this here just because it's as good of an intro post as any.*
So, I think it's pretty much official on all counts. I suffer from "health anxiety" a.k.a. "hypochondria" a.k.a. "somatization disorder."
I'm not quite sure why it happened, and I can't really pinpoint how it escalated but I have not been 100% honest in my LJ. It is something that I have yet to mention, yet deal with mostly every day. I didn't really connect the fact that it was anxiety until this week, where yet another "rogue" symptom got googled and then self-diagnosed into being something much much worse.
Mostly everyday, I discover something on my body (or weird feeling) that, to me, has no logical explanation. I google my symptoms and then percieve the minor ocurrence to be something much bigger. I am absolutely terrified of getting any sort of bloodwork done. I have become very karma-reliant, and even when given good results to a test, I am convinced that somehow my results weren't accurate or that they mixed up my vials with someone elses.
Usually, when I discover something, I start to get a panic attack. Last night, this started to happen and I finally fessed up to Steve (my boyfriend).
For the past couple of days, I've felt like I had a sore throat - it's only on one side, feels like the top of my throat, and hurts when I eat tart or spicy foods, as well as when my tounge is out. I told myself that I wasn't going to get paraoid about it and kept it going pretty well. The only thing I googled was "tonsilitis," which for me is a step in the right direction. See, recently, I have been reading a lot of support message boards and coming up with coping ideas and theories. While I might go see a therapist eventually, honestly, the thought freaks me out because I'm scared they'll make me get a full blood test and discover that my hypochondria is not unwarranted. But anyway, I've decided that I am going to try to make myself better - without psychiatry or drugs such as Xanax or anti-depressants. I got a couple of great ideas such as 1) STAY OFF OF GOOGLE!! and 2) Do not go to a doctor until a "symptom" you have lasts more than 3 weeks. If it's still a problem, then make an appointment. For me, I also am resigned to stay off the medical advice communities on LJ for a bit, because it's definitely triggering.
So great, wonderful. It was working out well until last night when I happened to look at my tongue in the mirror, and lifted it. I discovered this white long pimple looking thing that was red around the sides. It hit me that this was absolutely not normal and that this was the cause of my mouth discomfort. I felt panic start to set in. Whenever I start to have a panic attack, my body gets really warm and my heartbeat speeds up to an insane rate. Usually I can stop myself before it escalates and then try to go about like nothing happened while still being completely not ok inside. Last night, I just couldn't do that. I showed my "under-tongue" to Steve, trying to sound nonchalant. I asked him what he thought it was (normally, I would not have shown anyone for fear that they would go: "Omg!! That's not good. That's reeeally not good.") He was like, 'Sweetie, I've gotten those before. They're usually from irritation. See how it's white? That's just pus because you've probably been eating a lot of spicy food and something irritated that area. I've gotten that many times - even in the same area you have yours - and let me tell you, the worst kind is on the side of the tounge. Yeowch!" I just kinda nodded at him then I sat him down and I spewed it all out. I stopped caring what he thought of me and just let him know that this is something I was ashamed to show him, to tell him about. I told him all about the worry that fills me so constantly - about time spent looking in mirrors seeing for changes in my physical composition, about googling every ache and pain that I have.
Steve, being the most awesome boyfriend that he is, held me and cuddled me and told me that he supports me and that if I want to get better without medication, he supports me so much and that if I feel that I need to speak to someone, he is there 100%. He knows just what to say to calm my neuroses and the best part is - he does so, willingly! I know that having him behind me while I deal with this issue is just going to help me get better.
So yes, hypochondria is real. It's not fun. It's so scary some days that I figure "why bother." Other days, I'm on such a high that nothing can get me down, and I laugh away my neurotic tendencies. As all those cheesy sites say, the first step is always admitting that that is the issue at hand. While I do admit it (though sometimes my brain likes to be mean and go "yeah, for most people but YOU'RE obviously sick"), it's going to take some time before I get the courage to face my annual exam (which I should be getting like this week. Heh. Now that I have broken my code of ashamed silence here (how funny - in my very own journal), I feel it can only help to get this out in writing.
So, please wish me luck and I'll try not to be overtly anxious. :)
I just showed my under-tongue to my boss and he was like "Ooh yeah I see it. It looks like irritation. Yeah it'll go away in a couple of days." :D
This is my first post here after recently realizing that I suffer from severe hypochondria. I'm not sure how it started, per se.
I've always had a pretty wild youth - without regard for health or anything. This included drinking, drugging, and lots of sex. I was never overly concerned until about 2-3 summers ago when I got raped. I spoke with a therapist weekly and was taking Lexapro, and thought I was healing pretty well. Unfortunately for me, I lost my insurance and therefore my prescription and therapy. I was fine for a while until I started to get sick, a lot. Every couple of months I had flu-like symptoms for like a year. Like an idiot, I googled my symptoms and became convinced that I had the worst possible STD known to man (I'm so paranoid I'm scared to even type the name). I could not eat or sleep. I went to a clinic and got anonymously tested. It was one of the worst days of my life. Sitting in that waiting room was something I will never ever want to relive. The counselor called me in and told me that, without a doubt the test was negative. Of course, I was so elated I cried hysterically.
I was fine for a while until thoughts of negativity started creeping up on me. Maybe it was a mix-up. Why do I have this rash? Why does my throat hurt? The thing is, I have been to doctors several times this year - but am so scared of my yearly exam where all the urine/bloodwork is done. My health has been decent (I will admit it) but every small bump or redness, or nausea, and I get so tense and start to get this warm feeling through my body, with a rapid heart rate. I am even sometimes uncomfortable watching certain movies or show in case the topic that I most fear comes up.
It is almost time for my yearly and I just haven't been brave enough to make the appointment yet. I am really scared to talk about this and I am really scared to speak to a therapist because I'm scared they'll make me take a bunch of tests to determine if my worry is unfound and they'll find something.
I guess I have good days and bad days. On the good days, I laugh my fear off and enjoy my life because I really am very lucky to have the support I have. On the bad days, I overthink everything that is wrong, google my symptoms (horrible! I think google is a large part of why I am the way I am), and think only the worst.
Anyway, I appreciate all comments and would just like to know that I am not alone. I plan on stopping over to Barnes and Noble later and getting some books to help me somewhat cope with the anxiety. I would love some suggestions, and any comments. :)
Fri, Jan. 11th, 2008, 11:10 pm
Hey, I have just found this group, since it had occurred to me that finding support would be helpful. I think about possibly having serious illnesses often and have all my life. Lately it has been a little worse.
I find that jogging is very helpful. But, I have trouble doing it because I have chronic hip pain, I think from being hit by a car several years ago.
I routinely fear having cancer, HIV, & major infections. It is helpful to remind myself that these things are not likely. I tend to try to find in myself symptoms of fairly serious but manageable diseases, because I feel like having one of those would somehow make me feel stable.
I have a hard time conceiving of my own good health and it frightens me. I routinely visit doctors or ERs and am told I am okay or that I have anxiety. I get embarrassed by having wasted their time.
I do not want to be sick, and I also, in a way, do want to be. I have a hard time conceiving of something in the middle (not terminally ill OR immortal).
I am currently waiting on getting aids test back & cervical cancer test. I live in New Orleans right now and its a super toxic environment. I have a big toe that has been slightly numb and very cold for a couple months.
I'm wondering what you guys think about natural health and detoxing. I think it might be a good way to take charge of one's health. I used to have a naturopath. She did not toss aside my symptoms, she paid attention because they were hurting me. She put me on various detoxing supplements to help my body better heal and feel well.
Thanks for listening. Take care & good luck.
PS. Comments are really appreciated. :)