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Health anxiety ... ?

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Old 09-17-2017, 10:49 PM   #1
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ward826 HB User
Health anxiety ... ?

First off, some facts about me: I am a 24 y/o single male, 5’ 7”, and around 220 lbs. I’ve been overweight since high school, and kept gaining throughout college. Good news is I just lost about 20 lbs in a couple months this summer (calorie counting works!), and intend to keep losing more until I’ve achieved my goal. When I was in high school, I was diagnosed w/ anxiety/depression/OCD and put on Fluoxetine (Prozac?). I wound up with 50 mg, and took this med faithfully for several years. However, I just sort of cold-turkey stopped taking it sometime later in college—not smart, I know—because I thought I was all better. Evidently not, as I’m still finding myself anxious about a lot. But that’s a whole other topic.

Anyways, I tend to freak out a lot about my health, especially recently. Earlier this summer I had an incident where I went out drinking (don’t usually do that) with a former teacher of mine and a fellow student, and somehow or another one side of my upper lip wound up feeling out of sorts/tingly/numb. Of course I feared something awful, and went on a big Internet quest of self-diagnosis. And naturally, every result I found was something horrific. I even had at least one HORRIBLE panic, possibly one of the worst I've ever had, as a result of me worrying about this.

The weird feeling in my lip ended up lasting for about a week, though it eventually seemed to go away on its own (and I noticed it less the less I thought about it). Eventually, I just wasn't noticing it anymore. I to this day question whether it was actually even there for that long, or whether I was imagining it after some point; just last night a friend (the fellow student) reminded me about the whole situation, and it instantly got me feeling like my lip was still messed up. I suddenly became exceptionally aware of my lip and how it felt, and I had a brief (who am I kidding, it’s still going on) freakout that maybe the lip never got back to normal and I just got used to the weird feeling.

I am always feeling random little pains in my chest and whatnot, thinking that I have a very serious condition. Sometimes I go to bed at night wondering if I’ll even wake up the next morning, for no particular reason. Heck, sometimes I worry that I will have a heart attack or some big problem that ends up killing me! It just gets to be a ridiculous level of worry. I live alone in an apt in NYC (just got my Master's in May, and currently starting to freelance as a musician); my family is back in FL where I was born and raised, and I’m constantly worrying that something horrible will happen to me up here and no one will be around for me.

Speaking of FL, last week I just so happened to be visiting home in FL when Hurricane Irma decided to head right for where my family lives. Had been feeling some chest pains this summer and went to the doc to ask about them; the nurse took my blood pressure and asked “Is your blood pressure usually high?” or something to that effect—which totally freaked me out, as I’ve never had blood pressure issues before. One second later, though, she said it was probably just me being stressed about the impending hurricane. But still, even a statement like that made me fear for the worst.

If I recall correctly, the "symptoms" all started the night before I flew back to NYC; I was lying in bed at night, and my right index fingertip started to have a throbbing pain, not unlike the pain you feel after getting your finger pricked at the doc. This freaked me out, though I did manage to get some sleep. It should be noted that earlier that day, I helped my dad de-board the house (lifting and carrying a lot of heavy wooden boards and planks) since the hurricane had passed.

The next day, when I was still feeling the pain, I started to worry, and began searching all over the Internet to see what could possibly be causing it. Of course I read about diabetes, MS, AIDS, and other conditions (at least one middle-aged uncle of mine has diabetes/neuropathy, and my grandmother has at least neuropathy) which scares me to death; I'm only 24 years old, after all. Perhaps it was me reading about all these other symptoms, but sure enough throughout the day and the following few days I've started experiencing a ton of these symptoms I've read about.

Various symptoms I’ve had show up in the last few days include: visibly pulsating biceps, pulsing in the side of my head, tingling forehead, pulsating/beating eyes, ache/pain in toes, ache/pain in fingers/hand, pain in random spots on my arms/legs, chest pain, cloudy/weird vision in one eye. All of these symptoms have typically lasted for only a few seconds to a couple minutes at a time.

The real kicker is that apparently basically all these symptoms can be caused by... stress/anxiety! And in all fairness, I suppose the likelihood of me suddenly developing some big disease—let alone just a month after I previously had a health-freakout, regarding my lip (...unless that was a symptom of this disease too... OK I'll stop) is kind of low. My parents both seem to think I'm just getting myself all worked up over nothing, that I'm probably fine, and that I need to stop looking online and self-diagnosing myself. They are of the opinion that everyone gets aches and pains, and that I should find something to keep myself so then I won't have as much time to sit around and start either imagining symptoms or obsessing about symptoms that are potentially (and maybe even likely) benign/not too unusual. And they also think that me lifting and carrying all those heavy wooden boards, is the most likely cause of the initial pain in my finger(s).

Is it possible I'm imagining this stuff? Or is it possible my brain is MAKING these pains/aches, kind of like how when someone tells you not to think of something, you immediately start thinking of it? For instance, the other night I was watching a video, and one commentator pointed out that a guy in the video blinks over 60 times in 30 seconds. Naturally, I immediately became overwhelmingly conscious of every single blink of my own, for the next minute or two. Or like how yesterday, right when I thought "Hm, I haven't had any of that finger pain yet today!", almost as if on cue, I started having finger pain.

Last night I noticed my eyes (eyelids?) pulsing/beating a fair amount... But I think earlier in the day I had had it happen *once* and read about it and started to worry. I guess the big thing I should also point out is though it's possible I'm creating these symptoms on my own or am hyper-aware because I'm currently worried sick, they don't ONLY occur when I think of them. So for instance, yesterday I could just be sitting around doing any random thing, and then one of the symptoms would pop up. Not sure whether or not in order for the symptoms to be a result of anxiety/your own mind, you have to be actively thinking of them, or if they can happen as a result of subconscious worry?

I'm just worried sick. I keep telling myself that I'm probably either causing the symptoms/making them worse with my worry, but then ANOTHER symptom that I read about, happens, and that derails me all over again. I'd like to think that this is just another case of me blowing things waaay out of proportion; for instance, I just hung out with a friend, and I was hardly thinking about this whole thing during those several hours.

And for what it's worth, I also wonder if maybe the stress of being in the path of a hurricane with not enough time to escape (it was supposed to hit the complete opposite side of the state—then at the last minute shifted so that we were going to be directly in its path), was the catalyst for all of this. Up until it got downgraded to a Category 2 mere hours from reaching us, I was legitimately fearing that I was going to die. Cannot remember another time that I (or my family for that matter) was that scared for my life. In fact, the night before the hurricane, while we were getting ready, I started feeling all sorts of weird symptoms and couldn't help but freak out that I was about to have a heart attack or something and die, thus burdening my family with even more than just worrying for their own safety from the hurricane.

So, I guess you could say that I'm a bit of a worry wart, especially as of late. But still, I can't help but worry. Sorry for the long message; thank you for reading.

Last edited by Administrator; 09-18-2017 at 07:32 AM.

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Old 09-17-2017, 11:41 PM   #2
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Re: Health anxiety...?

You are trapped inside your head and it is not a happy place for you. You know that your 'symptoms' are less bothersome when you are distracted from thinking about them, though that is not really a big help. It is, however, a start. I was you when I was younger, and it was no fun. My method which gradually sorted me out was, as soon as I had a symptom, to repeat a mantra, like "I'm still alive, I'm no worse, it's not painful, I've been here before...". It sounds weird and oversimplified, but this overthinking you are doing does not need anything complicating it more for you. Over time you will find that you didn't die of any of these things, but wasted a lot of potentially good times worrying over every little twinge. You will start to be like 'heck, not this twitch/pain/tingle again, dammit!' Watch it for a bit, then forget it.

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