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Health Anxiety Spiraling out of Control

G

Gws1018

New member
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
1
Hello everyone,

This is my first post on this site but unfortunately not my first on an anxiety forum. I'm a 24 year old healthy male (in the military, no tobacco and rarely drink alcohol). This has been a painstaking struggle for a long time and it's always reassuring to be in a community. So a quick history: First experience was in high school with heart worries for a "skipping" heartbeat. I was feeling a bit depressed and anxious at the time and my mother said this kind of palpitation was normal and that she got it sometimes too. I insisted I go to the doctors and they did an EKG, and I guess saw something that they needed to evaluate on an echocardiogram. The results were negative and I was fine, but the worry and trauma I felt has manifested over the years. i have convinced myself that I have every cancer imaginable, from mouth to brain to lymphoma to heart failure, kidney failure etc. Literally everything. Have only gone to the ER one or two times because i mainly feel the panic at night when I'm less likely to drop everything and go to the hospital. I also test a bit high on my physicals for blood pressure but the doctor never seems worried and calls it "white coat syndrome" because my heart rate goes up as soon as he straps it on my arm.

Now for my current issues. Working lately I have been feeling stressed and anxious, with mild headaches that come and go in different parts of my head. Then, the washers and dryers in our barracks were taken out for two weeks while being replaced. I took my laundry to my girlfriend's house to wash there. She added "Downy Unstopables" which smelled great. I did a couple loads of laundry then bought it for myself. I was also using a new deodorant. About a week later I start getting a rash. First on my right armpit, then my left. There were a few red bumps and it chafed and hurt when clothes rubbed or when putting on deodorant. Assuming it was the deodorant, I stopped and switched to my old stuff. I then got a red rash on my lower right nipple and yet another bump, very painful considering I wear a ballistic vest every day. I googled the Downy product and realized many people were having reactions, but since I didn't find the EXACT rash I was looking for, I thought the worst and that it may be something else. With antihistamines and rewashing all my stuff the rashes faded, but the red bumps on my right armpit are back. Perhaps from not rewashing my clothes long enough. HOWEVER since all this has started I have catastrophized. Bumps on my armpits? Obviously the lymph nodes indicating serious disease! The rash on my nipple is still gone but it is still a tad firm and discolored. What does that mean? Breast Cancer of course! Yes you heard that right. I, a 24 year old male, have convinced myself I am dying of breast cancer.The past few days I have had awful panic attacks about it at night, then at work I'm too tired to function and can't help but to fall asleep, and then when I wake up I repeat the panic attacks. I feel like as a seemingly healthy 24 year old, my body is falling apart. It may be an illusion but it feels so real and I don't know how to live like this anymore. Common sense tells me I got rashes in these areas because that's where sweat/rubbing takes place but I have convinced myself that because there were bumps involved it's cancer.

I don't know where to go from here. In the military there is a degree of stigma that comes with seeking mental help. But my panic attacks are so bad that it feels like I'm dying every night. I'd love to hear some words of wisdom from others suffering.

Thank you so much
 
J

JW1989

New member
Joined
Oct 21, 2018
Messages
1
Hi there, I feel your pain. My health related anxiety is getting progressively worse. Never got to stage of real panic attacks before but had a bad one tonight. Called an ambulance who came out and said all my obs were completely normal. Literally felt like I was having a heart attack, felt like I was going to collapse. Hot flush/light headed tingling in both forearms and face.

I've worried about cancer for years, as per your story everything is something despite continual trips to doctor whom tell me everything is fine.

It's very tiring. Each time I feel like this though I imagine getting a little bit better as it's another horrible feeling that doesn't result in death to tick of my list.
 
C

Claracluck

New member
Joined
Nov 30, 2019
Messages
2
Location
Devon
Hello everyone,

This is my first post on this site but unfortunately not my first on an anxiety forum. I'm a 24 year old healthy male (in the military, no tobacco and rarely drink alcohol). This has been a painstaking struggle for a long time and it's always reassuring to be in a community. So a quick history: First experience was in high school with heart worries for a "skipping" heartbeat. I was feeling a bit depressed and anxious at the time and my mother said this kind of palpitation was normal and that she got it sometimes too. I insisted I go to the doctors and they did an EKG, and I guess saw something that they needed to evaluate on an echocardiogram. The results were negative and I was fine, but the worry and trauma I felt has manifested over the years. i have convinced myself that I have every cancer imaginable, from mouth to brain to lymphoma to heart failure, kidney failure etc. Literally everything. Have only gone to the ER one or two times because i mainly feel the panic at night when I'm less likely to drop everything and go to the hospital. I also test a bit high on my physicals for blood pressure but the doctor never seems worried and calls it "white coat syndrome" because my heart rate goes up as soon as he straps it on my arm.

Now for my current issues. Working lately I have been feeling stressed and anxious, with mild headaches that come and go in different parts of my head. Then, the washers and dryers in our barracks were taken out for two weeks while being replaced. I took my laundry to my girlfriend's house to wash there. She added "Downy Unstopables" which smelled great. I did a couple loads of laundry then bought it for myself. I was also using a new deodorant. About a week later I start getting a rash. First on my right armpit, then my left. There were a few red bumps and it chafed and hurt when clothes rubbed or when putting on deodorant. Assuming it was the deodorant, I stopped and switched to my old stuff. I then got a red rash on my lower right nipple and yet another bump, very painful considering I wear a ballistic vest every day. I googled the Downy product and realized many people were having reactions, but since I didn't find the EXACT rash I was looking for, I thought the worst and that it may be something else. With antihistamines and rewashing all my stuff the rashes faded, but the red bumps on my right armpit are back. Perhaps from not rewashing my clothes long enough. HOWEVER since all this has started I have catastrophized. Bumps on my armpits? Obviously the lymph nodes indicating serious disease! The rash on my nipple is still gone but it is still a tad firm and discolored. What does that mean? Breast Cancer of course! Yes you heard that right. I, a 24 year old male, have convinced myself I am dying of breast cancer.The past few days I have had awful panic attacks about it at night, then at work I'm too tired to function and can't help but to fall asleep, and then when I wake up I repeat the panic attacks. I feel like as a seemingly healthy 24 year old, my body is falling apart. It may be an illusion but it feels so real and I don't know how to live like this anymore. Common sense tells me I got rashes in these areas because that's where sweat/rubbing takes place but I have convinced myself that because there were bumps involved it's cancer.

I don't know where to go from here. In the military there is a degree of stigma that comes with seeking mental help. But my panic attacks are so bad that it feels like I'm dying every night. I'd love to hear some words of wisdom from others suffering.

Thank you so much
First of all, thank you for sharing. I really mean it when I say I can truly empathise with what your going through, I am just sorry that you have endured this experience too.

I'm really hoping that the right support and medication will get me back to my 'normal self', which I long to have back.

I hope sharing my thoughts and experiences will provide you with some comfort and reassurance that your not alone.

I too have been living with health anxiety, which begun in May this year. I'm thinking it stemmed from when I was away on a business trip. I was stopping in a hotel room alone but was with colleagues; so plenty of opportunity to socialise and be distracted.
Sadly, while I was away I found out some shocking news about the care service abuse scandal, which many would have seen on BBC panorama. As a Learning Disability Nurse, my heart sank, following on from Winterbourne View, Staffs Hospital and many more - I was saddened knowing that more vulnerable adults had been let down again. The publicity of this went viral, which made it more difficult, as I was attending Nursing Congress - which highlighted the scandal through debate and discussion; something I found extremely emotional.

The following evening, I received the devastating news that a loved one was victim of this abuse, which was heartbreaking. I believe this was the start of my battles with anxiety.
That evening, I experienced a panic attack. I was restless, clammy, nauseas, unsettled tummy, palpitating heart. After trying lying on floor, breathing techniques, sitting in the hotel reception, outside, inside again. I went back to my room and the loneliness exasperated it further, I didn't see an out from it - all I could think about was being on the front of the newspaper the following day 'Newly Qualified nurse found dead in Liverpool Hotel'. I tried so hard to calm myself down, and allow my mind calmed by symptoms didn't which influenced my thoughts towards 'somethings wrong'. I lay in the dark with extreme shakes to the point my bed was moving - I've never experienced anything like it, I felt like I was possessed.

I 'survived' the night, and fell asleep through exhaustion. The following morning I felt really emotional, tierd and found myself being focussed on my chest. This was the beginning of timing, watching, feeling for my pulse. My heart rate felt steady/in range but strong, like it was going to burst out my chest. I tried to speak to others but I didn't feel comfortable enough to truly share what I had been through the night before, so it continued for the remainder of the trip.

I had been so excited for so long about my business trip and the weekend to follow, as I was meeting my best friends to attend a festival, something I LOVE! However, I ended up not eating, hyperventilating and feeling like I was going to die.
Ongoing thoughts during this time and continue are...
'Something bad is going to happen'
'This is it, this is my final day'
'I need an ambulance'
'I'm going to collapse'
'I'm going to have a heart attack'
'I don't care about anything anymore'

All of the above continued throughout events and milestones which I would usually jump for joy at. I have always been sociable, independent, outgoing, adventurous, travelled and lived overseas alone - yet despite my family, friends and partner being there, I had never ever felt so lost and alone. I felt disappointed - that I should be excited that I'm going to Greece, London, France, that it was my birthday. I loved my job, my role and felt my work was the only peace I found, despite the demand, responsibility and complexity of cases, I have as a nurse.

The list is to long to write but my self diagnosis through google, become out of hand; one week I had breast cancer - rationalise; sore boobs from hormones, the next MS - tension, aching muscles, tremors - rationalise; yet still can run 5k and go to netball and yoga without getting tired...though I still had so many symptoms, as you say 'how can something not be wrong, what if they've missed something!'.

My symptoms throughout a day/week (not all at one once) consist of:
Heartburn
Headaches
Upset tummy
Nausea
Pins and needles in arms
Strong heart beat which I can feel at rest and when lying down
Muscle spasms
Tight throat
Irregular breathing despite 'normal respiration range'
Hot flushes
Shakes/Tremours

I have been to the doctors 5 times, as well as an A&E trip; each time a different conclusion but no explanation to how I was feeling -
Start CBT- which I did and it wasn’t helpful, try Propranolol - did but made me feel worse, try relaxing, yoga, meditation, a sports massage, lets take bloods for everything, clotting, bleeding, inflammation - clear x100times, lets do an ECG/24 hour tape - clear with 'normal' irregular heartbeats, why don't you try Sertroline…

Anti-depressants was something I have always been completely against, never got it - not as a nurse but as I an individual. I always thought before, you can solve it yourself, surly it's not that hard! - but maybe nothing significant had happened to me before, for that I am extremely lucky, but now it had.

The acceptance of trying/needing medication to help me cope hasn't been an 'easy pill to swallow' (excuse the pun). I felt it symbolised failure; how can I be a 'good nurse' if I can only cope with medication that will alter my anxiety/stress levels. How can I talk to people about feel anxious or in crisis when I'm going home and feeling the same. Then one day, my wonderful nursing colleague said to me 'if you had something wrong with your kidneys or stomach, what would you do?' and of course my answer was 'accept treatment/take medication to make it better', she went on and said 'well why is it any different, we shouldn't feel ashamed if we need to take a small tablet each day to make our mind better'.

Just like yourself and the stigma within the military, I too felt that as a nurse I should be strong, have my shit together and feel in control...and in terms of my anxiety I couldn’t be further from that.

As I sit here writing this, (my heart continues to feel like its about to explode - no trigger, but I'm starting to accept that it's probably a symptom of my mind) but I am five days into taking Sertroline..I'm not sure what the next few weeks hold - it hasn't made me feel different, sleepy or unwell, occasional nausea but that could be anything..but I am hoping that even for a short time it will get me back to my 'normal self'; who's calm, content and loves nothing more than having 'me time' in my house, surrounded by candles, drinking a glass of red and watching Ru Paul's Drag Race without feeling like I need a paramedic! Instead of the frightened, tense, reliant person my anxiety as forced me to be.

I hope this helps...I more than happy to talk more if it helps anyone, I have found talking to be the best medicine yet.

Thank you :)
 
C

ChrisAUK

Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Messages
5
Location
UK
I can relate to everything you have said Clara,

I am also in the military, been so for 13 years, and suffered with health anxiety for 3 years. There's nothing to be ashamed of.

I took Viagra when i was younger, to treat ED that was brought on by my mind, my body as it turned out was perfectly functional. After taking the little blue helper one night, my body started shaking violently and I worried so much I threw up. Turned out to be a sudden release of adrenaline but i did go to hospital, and I've been to hospital a fair few times for the symptoms.

Ever since then, because i know it can happen, it does happen. I'll start to focus on every little ache or pain and suddenly i'm worried about bowel cancer, or lung cancer or breast cancer...this caused my palms to sweat, my feet to sweat, my heart to speed up, my mouth to go dry and then the shakes start after which i'll usually throw up.

This has meant i cant really relax because I'm always scared of my mind wandering, if i'm concentrating on something i get no symptoms, but if i stop and i'm left alone with my own head...then i'll start to think about it. I've had some therapy which did help but i still suffer from it.

I'm glad i'm not the only one, because the worst thing about this is feeling like your the only one this happens to, take heart that there's millions of us!

Chris
 
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