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hypochondia after sexual assault?



New member
Oct 27, 2008
Hello there, I am just wondering if anyone has had any experience of hypochondria following a rape or sexual assault, although I think it might be after any assault, depending on the person. Basically I was assaulted 7 years ago and immediately following had some hypochondria around STDs, and recently, without any real substantive cause, it has come back and seems to be getting worse. I'm wondering if anyone has had a similar experience or if you can recommend any techniques that help you to STOP thinking about it!!


Here is some background for reference:

I was raped in 2001 when I was 18, by my supervisor at a part-time job I had while I was in college. Basically he offered to give me a ride home, but took me to his house—I was 500 miles from home in a city I didn’t know, I had no idea where we were. He lived in a garage, so no one would have heard anything. I don’t remember much about it—I wasn’t intoxicated or anything, it’s just been several years and I haven’t wanted to think about it, obviously, so I’ve managed to suppress it I suppose. Anyway, he didn’t use a condom and I remember being in sort of a haze the next day, so I went to get the morning after pill, which I took, but I didn’t have any kind of exam done (he made sure I showered before I left anyway). And then he sort of acted like we were dating, and since I still had to see him at work, I sort of went along with it, but tried to avoid him when I could. I eventually changed my schedule to stay away from him. He made it a point to mention that he’d been arrested once before for beating a guy with a chain, and that he knew where I lived (in a dorm at the university), so I was pretty sure I couldn’t go to the police.
I didn’t report it, and I didn’t see a doctor. I seemed to be ok for about 6 months or so. Then I started to feel weak and shaky all the time, I was dropping things at work, I couldn’t sleep, etc…and for some reason being on public transportation was really upsetting (public transit had NOTHING to do with the whole situation—so I don’t know where that came from.)
At first my doctors thought I had MS as I have a family history. I was convinced that I had HIV and was dying but was too frightened to take a test. I eventually had a total breakdown about 14 months after the attack, and saw a therapist, and had all the tests done, everything was fine. I had anxiety problems and panic attacks for a long time, they have gotten better progressively over the years. I have learned relaxation techniques, and have never really been the type to think that the racing heart and dizziness etc…meant a heart attack. I always seemed to know it was anxiety and to be more frustrated than frightened.

After all that I didn’t date or sleep with anyone for almost two years. I then started dating a very supportive person who was very understanding. We dated for nearly 3 years, at the end of which I had sort of a one-night stand and then dated someone casually for about 2 months. I had all the normal STD tests done after that as well, just to be safe, even though I had been compulsive about condoms for everything.
I then moved quite far away and didn’t date anyone for about 9 months.
During that time I began to be oddly preoccupied with freckles—always assuming it was skin cancer. I began searching the internet for information on it, which always just makes you more frightened. I would get myself very worked up about this, but could usually calm myself down with facts, and then move on. Honestly I’m not really sure if it gets worse when I am stressed or not, partly because I haven’t really kept track and partly because I’m always stressed really.

I work in the NGO sector, focused on violence against women, so I see and hear and read things every day that related to rape, domestic violence, etc…but it doesn’t seem to be making things worse on a daily basis. I’ve been in this field for 5 years, so I don’t think that adds to it.

Anyway, in 2007 I met my current partner, and we dated for a few months, using condoms when we had sex. Then we decided to be monogamous and all that, and we both went in to be tested in a walk-in sexual health clinic. They have a ‘if there is something wrong, we’ll call you’ policy. They didn’t call either of us, so everything was great! My current boyfriend and I have been together for a little more than 18 months now.

Recently I’ve changed birth control a few times, just trying to find one that doesn’t give me too many unfortunate side effects. So in changing all these brands I’ve had a yeast infection (thrush) 3 times in 3 months—really annoying of course, and almost certainly a result of changing the birth control. They warn you about it on the packaging! However, at some point many years ago during my paranoia about HIV I read something about how a yeast infection is usually the first sign in women. (I don’t even know if this is true!! But apparently it stuck with me!) and now it has totally monopolised my thinking. Now I know that I have 0 reason to worry, I’ve been tested several times, at very appropriate intervals, and I believe, at least, that I have a very solid, committed relationship, so I do not worry that my partner has been unfaithful. Despite all of this rationalising, my brain won’t stop thinking about this. I spend all day convincing myself that I don’t have a deadly illness. And it is frustrating and a giant waste of my time!

At the same time I had an irregular pap smear (this is not terribly uncommon) but I’m now convinced I also have cervical cancer, and just did my monthly breast self-exam and have myself convinced that I felt a lump, and have now felt shooting pains in that breast AND a new freckle/mole thing that I spend half my time convinced is cancer.

Now at the moment I know that NONE of this is accurate. I’m quite convinced that I’m imagining all of this—but I need to find some more techniques to make my brain stop perseverating on these thoughts. I seem to be quite good about distracting myself—it has taken me like 2.5 hours to type this because I have enough to do at work that I don’t think about it, but no matter what I do the same thoughts creep back.

Any suggestions? Any other rape/violence survivors who have experienced hypochondria after the assault? I don’t want to go and have loads of tests done for things I know are not wrong with me—I really see that as ‘giving in’ to these ridiculous thoughts, so any other recommendations would be much appreciated.

Thanks 


Well-known member
Founding Member
Dec 17, 2007
East Lancs
Hi eve1632
You don't say where you are located, the reason I'm saying that is that in the UK you can go and speak to a charity called Victim Support, I know they can help even if only to point you in another direction.
The symptoms you describe are not unusual for anyone who has experienced what you have gone through.

One of those directions will be your GP, you have laid out your problems very well to us, can't you do that to your doctor? and I mean the whole thing, even if it means printing the post out and either giving it to him/her at an appointment or posting it him/her. The latter although on a different medical topic worked for me, he also appreciated it as he then allocated sufficient time to see me and got a new insight that he wasn't aware of.

Eve you have been very brave in writing how you are, now you need to be brave again to be able to move forward. It was not your fault, you are not to blame, using this like a mantra may help you whilst making your next step.
Keeping to yourself will only let it fester inside, I use this word on purpose for whilst a wound can fester so can anything that pries on your mind.

Whichever way you wish to go forward please be assured though that we (and I feel sure all on this site will agree) shall be here to support you.

Best Wishes in whichever direction you choose



Well-known member
Jan 31, 2011
you may have ocd about being clean after the rape you could have felt dirty and got convincd you had stds and it could be coming back because you have deep in your mind you have dicided that your ready to deil with what has happend get therpy around the abuse and this may go away
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