I think my anxiety is making me physically ill
And I can't stand it anymore.
I used to come to this board a lot because I went through a rough period a few years ago, it seemed to get better, and now it's bad again. This might be a long story...sorry!
It all started in 2003 when one of my beloved pets suddenly passed away. I had had her since I was a small child and it was a very hard time for me when she passed. A few months after she died, I woke up with severe vertigo and dealt with that on and off for at least a year. During the same year I came down with what felt like some kind of virus but it lasted for 3 weeks. I felt tired, weak, shakey. I felt like I could gag at any second but my stomach wasn't that bad. I didn't want to eat because I have a SEVERE phobia of vomiting which I have had since about age 5. This feeling that I got was my worst nightmare because I constantly felt like I could gag or vomit at any moment. At that point my anxiety kicked into high gear. I had those feeling on an off for about 8 months. Then my stomach actually started feeling very nauseous for a while, which led to more anxiety because of my phobia!!
I went to a GI doc and he diagnosed me with gastroparesis which basically means that the stomach doesn't empty quick enough and causes nausea. Some people with severe cases actually vomit every time they eat, and have to use feeding tubes. So of course that was NOT what I wanted to hear from the doc. I barely ate for months and got down to 75 pounds. I was so afraid to come down with a severe case of GP. But over time I did start feeling better, eating normally, and gaining weight back. The doctor concluded that I had a mild case, and would probably only experience trouble with pregnancy. He said I would have high's and low's, but probably never get severe. Anyway, that whole ordeal just made my anxiety worse.
Throughout the years I have had ups and downs, but THROUGH IT ALL, I still have these mysterious physical symptoms that won't subside. I refer to them as "strange sensations" through my body. I get a feeling behind my eyes almost like my head is a balloon or is floating. My whole body just feels uncomfortable, shakey, uneasy. My throat and the back of my mouth sometimes feels sensitive like I could gag. Of course I get an upset stomach quite a lot, either because of my gastroparesis, or because I trick myself into believing I am nauseous.
The formal name for fear of vomitting is "emetophobia." I am a self-diagnosed emetophobe, but I have had doctors agree. I have been to therapists but my phobia continues to get worse. Because of this phobia, I start to believe that any physical symptom I have is or will lead to nausea. I constantly check my temperature. I fool myself into believing that my shakiness and weakness means I am sick with a stomach virus. HOWEVER I have had these symptoms on and off (mostly on) for more than THREE years now!! So obviously it HAS to be my mind playing tricks on me.
The thing is, a lot of the time when I'm not feeling well, I'm not feeling anxious. When I AM anxious I feel phsyically terrible. But that is why I am so skeptical to believe that all of my pysical problems are anxiety. Because I still feel them even if I am calm at a given moment. Is it possible to feel the pysical symptoms of anxiety even if you aren't particularly anxious ever moment?? Because I am ALWAYS sick, but not always anxious. Anxious a lot, yes, but not always.
My anxiety revolves around my phobia. I wouldn't consider myself to have generalized anxiety disorder. I think my specific phobia is what causes my anxiety. I am a hypochondriac because of it. I am afraid of most illness. I believe that the death of my cat sparked something in me that brought about my real anxiety-ridden self. (perhaps post-traumatic stress?) I have also picked up obsessive-compulsive tendencies throughout all of this. Most of my OCD invovles obsessive hand-washing, for fear of germs, that might lead to nausea, vomitting, etc.
I am basically very uneasy for most of my waking hours. I sometimes wake up at night in a panic and have to take 1/2 of an ativan. I took ativan every day for a few months when this started years ago, and I developed a tolerance to it. Even on the lowest dose I had HORRIBLE withdrawal symptoms. But then again I exaggerate everything that makes me nauseous. Most people probably wouldn't have thought it was that bad. Anyway, it took me months to taper off the ativan. I didn't take it for quite a while and just recently started taking just 1/2 dose maybe twice/month just when I had a panic attack. My panic attacks revolve around me not feeling well.
It seems like I am in a vicious cycle. If I feel anxious, I feel sick, and if I feel sick, it makes me anxious. Then there are these mysterious feelings that just stick with me and make me miserable whether I am particularly anxious that day or not.
I don't know what to do with myself. I am so afraid of taking a daily medication for my anxiety because of how sensitve I was to the ativan. But I realize that that was benzo and they are highly addictive. However, I am sensitive to many things. I can't have caffeine, and I can't take decongestants without shaking and panicking and feeling ill. So I am afraid of meds because my body is so sensitive. If I knew that the daily meds (SSRI's for instance) would make me feel even, then I might give it a chance. But I am so afraid that the side effects will make me ill and that I will be sensitive to the medication, etc., etc.
Does sensitivity to a benzo necessarily mean that you will be sensitive to SSRI's? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the way ativan makes me feel, but I hate the way I feel when it comes to withdrawals.
I guess my point with this post was just to see if anyone else feels this constant physical illness related to their anxiety. It feels like there is something really wrong with me, but when it comes down to it, the only thing left that it could be is my anxiety. and I know that anxiety can work in mysterious ways, but to make me feel this ill? mentally AND physically. It is unbearable.
Has anyone else felt constant illness with their anxiety?
Any SSRI's that you would recommend that are on the gentle side? Is there such a thing? haha.
Anyway, I would like to let everyone know that I really feel for all of you. The toll that this has taken on my everyday life is unbearable. I really have compassion for all of you. It is great to have a place to discuss these things. Thanks to everyone who might have advice for me...
Last edited by krisdance83; 12-31-2006 at 12:59 PM.