Alright, so let me start this off by saying all I know in my life is anxiety and stress. When I was little and learning about HIV in school, I worried myself sick for weeks and was crazy depressed thinking I had HIV. I had to sleep with my parents and didn't want to do anything that young kids love to do.
In middle school, I had heart palpitations and I thought something was wrong with my heart, so I went to a cardiologist and they put a heart monitor on me. Everything turned out fine... but it's another example of me worrying myself sick about something.
Around 2.5 years ago, I woke up feeling light headed and absolutely freaked out. I thought for sure it was a brain tumor, even though I didn't get any headaches or any other brain tumor symptoms. and this one just hit me really hard. After about a day of stressing hard about it, I developed these small muscle spasms around my body, and that scared me even more because like the hypochondriac that I am, I looked it up online and read that it's a symptom of a brain tumor. I started taking days off from school and stopped going out with my friends because this crippled me. At the same time I was dealing with this, I was feeling some pain in my left testicle but didn't have any lumps, and worried about testicular cancer. I went to the doctor and he checked me out and basically just said it's anxiety. Over time, I guess I just got over it. The small twitches never went away, I just decided to live with them and ignored them because they were that minor.
Now I'm 20 years old, and I woke up a few days ago with a small hard painless lump on the back of my neck on the hairline near my right ear. Once again, I freaked out. I've convinced myself that I now have lymphoma, and now my anxiety has gone through the roof again. My twitches around my body are a little more extreme, and I now feel these short tingling sensations around my body including my face.. so now along with thinking I have lymphoma, I once again think I have a brain tumor. I also have this slight soreness in my left armpit / left groin, but no lumps. I read this is a symptom of lymphoma, so it's worrying me.
It's hard for me to pass things off as anxiety, because this all feels real to me. I just fixate on things and make them feel worse than they actually are, which scares me. I think I have a billion different types of cancer and I'm just doomed. It's so hard to deal with.
Thanks for reading.
The following user gives a hug of support to Reckful: sunnysomewhere (07-05-2012)
Hey. I think your symptoms feel real because they are real. They are not imaginary or anything. When your mind fixates on something it can make it seem much much worse than it really is. Sometimes when I am really anxious I can feel pain from someone lightly touching me. My body just gets really really sensitive. And it is easy to jump to the conclusion that something is horribly wrong. But given your history, knowing that you tend to jump to the worst conclusion when nothing is wrong try asking yourself what else that lump could be. Maybe a bug bite or something? The twitching and tingling sensations can be due to the anxiety you are feeling over the lump. Everyone's body probably twitches a little bit all the time, but no one ever notices. Except when you are in the midst of anxiety you have the not-so-pleasant experience of noticing every tiny thing that happens to your body. These can be completely normal sensations, the only abnormal thing about it is the fact that your mind is paying close attention.
So I wouldn't just try to brush everything aside by saying it is anxiety. Anxiety itself is a real problem that produces real physical sensations (granted these are probably normal sensations that your mind is interpreting as dangerous or scary). But by realizing that your symptoms are due to anxiety and not a brain tumor or lymphoma, it can help alleviate the symptoms. What helps me in this situation is to 1) think about what else the symptom could be. Could it be a pimple or a bug bite? Yes or no? And 2) I like to go online and type in "[the symptom], anxiety" and you can see how many different physical sensations can be due to anxiety. And it is a lot!! So hang in there and I'm sorry that you have to deal with this, I know that it is not fun.
I'd like to add to this that the small hard lump on the back of my neck that I noticed a few days ago has almost completely gone away. The only way I can feel it now is if I push really hard where it was, but a few days ago all I had to do was feel my neck to feel it.. so that's somewhat of a relief.
But it just doesn't end there though. I still have the slight soreness in my left armpit and a slight soreness in my left groin area. I haven't found any lumps after thoroughly examining both areas multiple times... but there's still that little voice in the back of my head that tells me, "if you're feeling any amount of soreness at all in these areas, no matter the severity, it is lymphoma." That's what I think with literally everything. If it's there, I fixate on it and make it horrible to deal with.
I try to listen to friends and doctors when they tell me that most of the time lumps aren't even cancer.. but it's hard because of the way I think. If I was a normal person, I'd probably just ignore all of this stuff because it's minor enough to ignore.. but I amplify these problems with my anxiety. I try to say to myself, if I've had these cancers rampaging through my body for 2.5+ years, I'd be feeling physically sick, and I don't. It's just my anxiety screwing with me again, just like it has for a big part of my life.
Yes I know exactly what you mean because I am the same way. And I have been like that since I was probably 7 or 8 years old. The way that I deal with it is that I actively choose not to believe that little voice in the back of my head. I still have it, and it probably won't ever completely go away. But I hear it and then respond to it saying "Yes, that is your opinion. But I am going to choose to believe that I don't have lymphoma. My symptoms can just as easily be explained by anxiety. This is anxiety, not lymphoma". And it took probably 6 months of me trying to do this but I would still listen to that voice in the back of my head so it didn't work. But finally I can now face that voice and tell it that it is wrong. And you know what? I accept that I could be wrong. Maybe it is lymphoma. But if that is the case it will be found by a doctor during one of my yearly checkups and will be handled with the appropriate treatment. I had to make the mental choice not to ruin my life worrying about having this or that disease. I think it is really hard to get to this place mentally, I am actually surprised that I was able to given how bad my hypochondria is. But it shows me that it is possible and I have faith that you can also overcome this problem, or at least learn to live with it in a way that doesn't ruin your life. Anxiety is all about fear. If you can face the fear head on you will be surprised at how your life can change for the better. I actually think that this whole experience made me a much stronger and better person. Please hang in there and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel!!