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Old 11-25-2007, 08:52 PM   #1
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supermom3 HB User
OCD and health anxiety

Hi all!

I have OCD and I go in phases of obsessing about my health - do any of you obssess about getting cancer and not knowing it? I sometimes find myself constantly checking my breasts and armpits, making sure I don't find anything questionable! I lost my mom to lymphoma/leukemia a little over 2 years ago. I have had several blood test in the past 2 1/2 years or so, just for reassurance - I find that this temporarily puts my mind at ease, but as I said, just temporarily. I have been seeing a psychologist who specializes in OCD and health anxiety, but due to scheduling conflicts on my part, I haven't been in to see him for a few weeks - I find myself, when I'm in one of these phases, thinking, "what if I have cancer and don't know it?" It's very irritating!

thanks for any advice or comments
supermom3

 
Old 11-26-2007, 11:22 AM   #2
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dksea HB Userdksea HB Userdksea HB User
Re: OCD and health anxiety

You are definitely not the only one who has had these thoughts! A few months back I started worrying alot that I might have diabetes or a brain tumor or something. It was never a worry for me before but it definitely came on like you wouldn't believe. No matter what i just couldn't shake the worries. Unfortunately for me it was all part of an OCD spike, but since i've been doing therapy and adjusted my meds those worries have faded away, i haven't worried about cancer in a couple months now.

I completely understand your fear though, i think the motto for OCD is "what if" and its scary what we worry about, of course if it wasn't scary i suppose we wouldnt' be worrying about it, like "what if this tv comedy i'm watching is funny!" ;-)

As hard as it is i think once you have done a reasonable job of seeking medical reassurance (you have checkups as recommended by your doctor based on family history etc) don't give in to the urge to check it again, even though it will temporarilly reassure you, it will just re-inforce the fear in the long run. Definitely see yoru therapist, its good that you are doing that!

Somethign I have found helpful is journaling and writing out my worries. Somehow it helps take the edge of to let them out onto paper, to see them from a different angle, outside my mind. There are other relaxation techniques and books to help deal with OCDish thoughts, its definitely tougher for Pure-O thoughts like that, ones you can't really calm with compulsions, because you can't really break the OC cycle as easily without a noticeable C.

 
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Old 11-26-2007, 02:45 PM   #3
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Re: OCD and health anxiety

Thanks, DKSEA! Hey, I'm a northwesterner, too! (I live in Oregon!) noticed you are in Seattle! I appreciate your reply!

supermom3

 
Old 11-28-2007, 05:07 AM   #4
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CatGirl1975 HB User
Re: OCD and health anxiety

Hi Supermom,

Your not in this boat alone..Im with ya! I too obsess about my health..The big two are cancer and that virus(I cannot type it). It started with me finding a lump in my breast over two years ago. Even though my mammo and ultrasound was negative, I still obsessed and did self exams so much, my breast hurt..Then it jumped to other cancers and stuff..

When I am able to convince myself to go to the doctor, I have had countless bloodwork, cat scans, MRI's, ultrasounds, x-rays, and scopes..All is fine, but I still "think" I have something..It's a terrible feeling to have..A constant battle in my head.."If I go to the doctor, he will find the cancer or virus".."If I don't go to the doctor, I will have a slow and painful death". "Do I really want to know that I have cancer?" "How will I tell my family Im dying?".."Did I give this disease to my husband, daughter?" These thoughts are what run through my head for weeks before I go...Then Im told Im fine, then a new "disease" pops in and I go through the whole cycle again...

Sorry your going through this, but like I said, your not alone..

 
Old 11-28-2007, 01:00 PM   #5
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rose01 HB User
Re: OCD and health anxiety

Its so good to read about someone who is as nuts as yourself...agreed??? I too fight everyday with health anxiety. That is why Im here now...researching diseases that I could have from the thought up symptoms that I dont really have but think I do. In the past week Ive had "the virus" lol...breast cancer...Hep A, B and C...fibromyalgia...brain tumor or aneurism (take your pick)...gallstones...Kidney stones...chlamydia..cervical cancer (that has spread throughout my entire body and became terminal) and a million others...Im not EVEN exagerrating. Sometimes I wont eat because Im scared it will make me sick, and it scares me to death to sneeze, cause it might make my brain anyeursm blow. This consumes my entire life...Im so tired of it. I was just shaving my legs last night and hid my razor so I couldnt infect anyone in the rest of the house with "the virus" I started lexapro today and it gave me diarreah which sent me into one panic attack after another for 2 hours. I feel my lymph nodes about every 10 minutes. I check my body for rashes or any other "symptom". I would love to videotape myself and watch it later. I bet people wonder why I run around feeling my boobs...the inside of my legs (lymph nodes), my armpits, and my neck. Youd think wed learn to just live with it instead of letting it drive us crazy!

Randa

 
Old 11-28-2007, 07:53 PM   #6
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Re: OCD and health anxiety

to catgirl and randa -

thanks for your replies! It does make you feel better when you know you're not the only one doing these things and/or thinking these things! To Randa - I hear ya on the armpit/breast checking! That's my top "checking thing" this week! Talk about sore!

thanks again!

supermom3

 
Old 11-29-2007, 04:32 AM   #7
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Re: OCD and health anxiety

Rose,

You didn't type "the virus" name? Why? Are you like me, can't see, hear or type the actual name? Send you into a panic attack if you do?

I feel so much better seeing that someone else put it in quotes like I do...Thats how much my fear has taken over..I also toss my razors away after one use, and I always feel secure that I know they are in the trash and nobody in my family can touch them..

Seems like we have the same OCD, but can I ask you some questions? After you start obsessing about a disease and search the net do you obsess more about the info you found? More convinced that you have this disease? Do you bug your doctors and get tons of test?

Once I start obsessing about a disease, I search the net, convince myself thats what I have, have panic attacks on top of panic attacks about it for weeks, then bring myself to go to our family doctor or hospital, get countless test, then told Im fine...Then I come up with a new disease and the cycle starts all over again...Im just very surprised that our family doctor hasen't caught on and said something to me about OCD...

 
Old 11-29-2007, 08:39 AM   #8
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rose01 HB User
Re: OCD and health anxiety

You can ask me questions anytime...it makes me feel better just to talk about it. I had my first panic attack 14 years ago...so severe they thought it was a stroke. At first I was diagnosed with "panic"..as it got worse then I was diagnosed with "panic and anxiety"...yrs go on and it becomes "panic disorder and Anxiety disorder" I have not been diagnosed with OCD but it has to be there..and thats not even my health anxiety talking!! My panic and anxiety seem to come in different stages...lasting maybe 2 weeks to a month at a time. Sometimes it will be the attacks constantly which brings on the fear of having another. Sometimes it will be the social anxiety when I cant bring myself to leave the house. The health anxiety can be related to me for one week and then the next its my kids. I cant drive on the interstate, if I HAVE to... I have to take xanax. I am the opposite about going to the doctor...I HATE to go...I have to make myself. Im terrified of doctors and what their going to find...Im terrified of taking meds cause I cant rationalize that side effects are normal and Im scared Im gonna have an allergic reaction. But I do move from one disease to another. What makes me SOOO mad though is that I smoke...and although I freak out over a bruise or a pimple...it does not phase me to pick up a cigarette...I have never researched anything on lung cancer or heart disease...isnt that odd???


Randa

PS...Heres a good one for ya...the other day I was in the break room at work...one of the guys came in and told me bye...then he walked out, walked back in and gave me a big hug....I immediatly thought to myself...."Oh no...he knows something...he knows Im dying...this must mean that Im gonna die today!" IS THAT RETARDED OR WHAT?!?! LOL

 
Old 11-30-2007, 11:55 AM   #9
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Re: OCD and health anxiety

Randa,

We are two pea's in a pod..Your right, I feel better too talking about it..I have not been told that I have OCD yet..I had an appt but the Dr. had to cancel...Took me 2 yrs to make myself admit and seek help for OCD..

I am dealthy afraid of my family doctor also, just because I feel he will tell me that I have something bad..I think I force myself to go, just so my OCD would stop yelling at me..I do get edgy driving on the highway, but not enough to stay away..I have avoided main roads all togeather because of stupid billboards that have info about the "virus" on them..

You read my mind about smoking..I was thinking about starting a thread about that..I do smoke..I try to quit a few times a year because for some reason I start to obsess that smoking is so bad my punishment would be the "virus"...I know that sounds crazy, but OCD likes to do that..I have no problem picking up a cigg, just as long Im not obsessing at that time about the "virus"

I also take xanax when Im having a bad panic attack/anxiety/rituals or obsessing about something. Do you perform rituals?

Yes, that is odd that you thought you were dying because he gave you a hug..But at the time you thought it was real...Looking back you see the oddness in it...That's how OCD works..I use to do that too...But now, I don't like ppl to touch me...My husband, kids, mother is ok to hug..Anybody else who tries, I freak out..

Last edited by CatGirl1975; 11-30-2007 at 11:59 AM.

 
Old 11-30-2007, 01:41 PM   #10
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dksea HB Userdksea HB Userdksea HB User
Re: OCD and health anxiety

Just an observation and something that i've discussed with my therapist, but your aversion to hearing/reading/saying/typing the particular name of what you are anxious about is a type of avoidance. By being afraid of even just the words it can give strength to the fear rather than dissipating it.

Now belive me i know how you feel, my earliest fear was about being sick to my stomache, if i heard it mentioned, or saw something on tv, or certain other triggers, it would cause me to feel very very VERY anxious, sometimes to the poitn where I would take a coupel pepto bismal just to be sure i would be ok. I can't say that worry has gone away completely but for the most part its not a part of my life anymore, i can see stuff or read stuff that mentions it and its no big deal anymore. It took time to reach that point, but I did get there.

If you aren't working with a therapist on this its certainly something to consider. Gradually desensitizing yourself to it. After all its just a word, just some letters, why shoudl it bother us? The example he gave me was to say the word "milk" as fast as I could for 40 seconds. After awhile you stop noticing that its milk and just start hearing the vowels and consonants, the sound of the word, etc. Suddenly its no longer associated with the actual thing. Your able to distance the representation and the actual thing. Then he had me do the same using a short phrase/word that represented my fear at the tiem, and oddly enough the same thing happened. At first I was nervous, but after about 40 seconds suddenly I was laughing. It was funny! My tongue was tripping all over itself just trying to get the letters out an the word didn't have NEARLY the impact anymore.

I'd definitely look into CBT if you aren't allready, and I can reccomend Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which is a newere type of CBT, it is really useful stuff.

 
Old 11-30-2007, 02:50 PM   #11
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rose01 HB User
Re: OCD and health anxiety

I have actually just finally said screw my doctor and made me an appt with a behavior therapist. Its completly like he doesnt even understand how bad I am. For 14 years now, with my panic attacks, I have gotten some visual disturbances. I have them to him several times and he just nods...never once have i been told what they were. Last night on a different health board...for the first time...I found two ppl who have them too. They are called migraine auras and are caused by...ofcourse...stress and mentrual stuff. I was furious that he had never even told me what these were. Do any of you have digestive problems with your anxiety? Anyhow...I am very excited that I get to go talk to someone who will actually understand what I am feeling. I have heard from several ppl that the CBT is very helpful. Im up for anything at this point!!

Randa

 
Old 11-30-2007, 02:56 PM   #12
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rose01 HB User
Re: OCD and health anxiety

oh yeah...catgirl...the touching part...i have too...one hug is fine...or if im in a good mood...several are fine...even with the kids...i have a problem with anyone sitting to close to me or just like...skimming...me. My little boy sleeps with me most of the time and sleeps sideways across the bed...when he moves and skims across my leg or something i feel like im gonna freak out. He loves to climb on me and it just gives me this horrible feeling. I feel so bad about it!! I really wonder what it feels like to be normal. Have you guys ever tried lexapro?

 
Old 12-01-2007, 07:45 AM   #13
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CatGirl1975 HB User
Re: OCD and health anxiety

dksea,

You hit the nail on the head with my avoiding that word. It's just so much easier to avoid it then to get through a panic attack.It's good that you can relate with your stomache anxiety, you understand what Im going through. To me it is just easier not to drive down the road with it plastered on a billboard for the world to see, to turn the tv channel, or to leave the room.This past summer I was reading a great novel.Half way through it a person got that "word" and I couldn't finish the book and actually wanted it out of my house..

I wanted to thank you for your post on my thread..Everyone said kind things but for some reason yours stuck with me..I finally made an appt to see a doctor,(n Oct) and obsessed about wanting to cancel it. But you told me to keep it..So everytime I picked up the phone to cancel, I read your post instead..But the funny thing is, the doctor had to cancel, and I never made it...LOL...Four weeks of obsessive hell for nothing.So I feel they let me down..Im going to go back to the first doctor who wanted to do "talk" and demand that he send me to someone who can help..

 
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