Torturing myself with anxiety--updated--PLEASE HELP ME!!!
I am 24 and take medication for severe anxiety disorder and ADD. I was unemployed for nearly 10 months until last Friday, when I got a job offer and accepted it. I went nearly 6 months without a panic attack and this is fantastic, b/c being out of work, I had plenty of free time to obsess, panic, worry, etc. The next morning after I accepted the job, however, I woke up in a full-on panic state. I have only slept with 1 person, 9 times and the last time was in 1998. Yet I have been torturing myself ever since, off an on, and convincing myself that I somehow got HIV from him. I haven't seen him since the last time, in August 1998, when I cut ties with him completely. The condom broke and I was smart enough to get to my doctor and take the morning after pill. I vowed never to be in that position again and stopped seeing him. I know that he is doing well, runs a restaurant, is overweight, has a serious girlfriend for 5 years, and he told me in 2001 that he gave blood to his sister's newborn babies, which would mean he didn't have HIV. I would ordinarily get an HIV test, but my family believes that if I had reason to worry, they'd make sure I'd get tested. They strongly believe it is my anxiety creating this fear and that getting a test for no reason other than because I've worked myself into a panic state would be giving in and letting the anxiety rule my life. It has been over 7 years now since that last time I slept with that person and I have been extremely healthy. I was at college for 4 years and exposed to germs and sickness all the time because that's just how college is. I show no symptoms of HIV and last week, during my panic attack, I drove up and got bloodwork done for a thyroid issue, just to check it out because it's a heredeitary condition. I asked the technician, who has 30 years of experience in blood work and knows all about HIV and tests for itm if it was possible that I had HIV and didn't know it after 7 years. She said no. She said I would've developed symptoms after 6 months. This should have calmed me down, but I remembered that 6 months later, in March 1999, I was in my 2nd semester of college and got a case of the flu. I attributed it to my being away from home for the first time, not sleeping or eating right and just being in close quarters with other college kids. Now I've been torturing myself in full-on panic mode for days. This worry tortured me so much and I believe that I probably don't have AIDs and that it was a case of my worries about unemployment being replaced by an old, past worry. I have no reason other than my OCD and anxiety to believe I have HIV. I convince myself that the reason I've not had a serious relationship must be because God must know I have HIV and doesn't want me to infect anyone with it. See how messed up my thinking is? I've told my parents and therapists ALL the facts and they ALL say it's not necessary for me to get a test. Also, they pointed out an article to me about how the media has made AIDS seem much more common than it really is, as a scare tactic. It said that HIV almost always occurs when someone has used IV drugs or is homosexual, or has been with someone who has. This is not the case for me or the guy I slept with. I read several articles stating that media reports almost ALWAYS leave out drugs or homosexual activity when profiling a hetero person w/HIV. So, I've convinced myself that I have this rare, deadly disease, even though I'm extremely healthy. I stay up late, don't always eat right and so, leave myself vulnerable to getting sick all the time. Yet I never do. Please help reassure me that I can go on with my life without getting tested and realize that this worry has been unnecessary, and that I have no reason in the world to think I have it.
Last edited by oceandreamer; 08-29-2005 at 10:20 AM.
The answer is simple...get an AIDS test. If you are in a total state of anxiety over this issue, put your mind at ease by getting the test. It sounds like your family, doctors, etc. are right and you are just fine, but you need to do this for your sanity. I can't understand why all those people would tell you not to get a test that would help you not to worry.
I left out the fact that he regularly got tested (and we were only 17, so he was very conscientious) and was negative. But I tortured myself into thinking, well, he lies about other things, so what if he's never been tested in his whole life and just fabricated these stories? Even though he brought it up, not me. He was very promiscuous, so that;s why all the tests. But as we were teenagers, he was only sleeping w/suburban teens, not inner city drug users. Logically, I probably don't have it, but I think it's anxiety and guilt over lying to my parents by sneaking out to sleep w/him and major Catholic guilt in general that have convinced me I deserve to have HIV. I try very hard to analyze and figure out things by saying, because I've never had a serious boyfriend in the past 7 years (due to anxiety, unemployment and shyness), it must be because God knows I'm secretly diseased. I try to figure out God's plan for me a lot and it all comes back to, I must have HIV. For example, when I didn't get picked for a job I wanted out of state and ended up getting a job where I live, I told myself it was probably because I would've had to come home from that other city to die. I read some other posts by anxiety sufferers on another board and they, too, have convinced themselves they have any number of deadly diseases, sicknesses and ailments. I always assume that I know more than doctors do and that they're making a huge mistake. Even reading that other people obsess and think they have diseases too doesn't help, because I convince myself that I will be the one person who obsessed about it and actually truly was dying. I don't want to get a test right now.
Just like many people on here, myself included, you are having obsessive thoughts that are increasing your anxiety. At one time or another I've thought I had several illnesses that I did not, but I got checked out by my doctor. Let's face it, you can't do anything about it if you do have something serious other than go to the doctor, so if I were you, I'd do everything I could to reduce my stress, like getting that AIDS test. It's just a simple test, then you'd know. You are right to think that your ex-boyfriend lied about it if he lied about other things, so why not cover your bases?
Also, since you speak of being Catholic, maybe you could go to church and confess what you think your sins are. In my opinion, that is why they have confession, so you can go on with your life with a clear conscience. I'm not religious, but I think this is what Catholics do and God is supposed to forgive people who atone for their sins (am I right?). It sounds like you've been punishing yourself for years...I think you can stop now. You could also speak to a priest or a therapist who might provide some wise counsel for you, and I definitely think you should take some kind of anti-anxiety medication. You sound so wound up that I think it would help you relax and see the truth..that you are okay physically, it's your mind that is hurting you.
I totally sense the pain you are experiencing. I hope you feel better soon.
EVERY day i wake up and wonder 'what have i got today', ive had cancers, tumors, hiv.Of course i wouldnt be writing this if i had, i'd proberbly be dead. The mind is an awful thing when plagued with anxiety. Every ache or pain is magnified ten fold, in my saner moments i know this but when anxiety strikes i feel doomed. Its not a nice feeling, to be convinced that your dying. I try to get through, as we all do but i feel im missing out on so much by being in this state of mind. The relief ive felt when ive been convinced im terminally ill, only to be told by a doctor im not is great, whats worse torturing yourself for ever or finding out the truth. I know its hard (ive been there) but you cant carry on beating yourself up. Your not alone, i always think the doc's have missed something and i tell them my own diagnosis- which they must find amusing. if i have a good day i always feel a bad one will follow- it doesnt always. try to find strenght from your beliefs (yes im a fellow catholic) god doesnt punish the good. Be brave and have faith in yourself.
So many of us understand what you are going through it is obsessing over symptoms and making them into the worst thing imaginable.I agree you should get the HIV test done PLEASE do it for your own peace of mind.
If you still obsess after the test then maybe you should ask about medication and therapy for the anxiety.I also agree about the religion thing if you find inner peace in your religious beliefs then by all means persue it anything to help you be at ease and live your life normaly.