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Severe health anxiety is ruining my life

A

Anxietymum

New member
Joined
Dec 6, 2019
Messages
4
Location
UK
Hi all, new member here

I’m just looking for some reassurance that it’s not just me I guess, and just need to write it all down.

So the last two years have been pretty full-on. I work full time in a stressful, but enjoyable, job. Last year my husband and I went through fertility tests followed by one successful round of IVF, which itself is quite invasive, then this year I’ve been on maternity leave since the beginning on April, had our daughter via section at the end of April, got married in August and had our daughters christening in November. I’m a massively organised person and make lists to make lists, so I think my maternity leave is playing a part in my anxiety as I now have all this time to sit around and think while my little girl naps.

I’ve had a lump behind my ear/side of my head for 10 years - I know it’s 10 years because I first found it when I was on my nursing placement (ironic! Had a swift change of career after first year) in ENT, so mentioned it to my mentor who felt it and said it was a lymph node and that sometimes we can feel them because they swell when fighting infections, but sometimes they sit above the surface and we can just feel them. I was more than happy with this answer and for the last ten years there have been times I’ve completely forgotten about it, or I’ve been doing my hair and brushed past it and not given it a second thought because I’ve accepted that it’s just a part of my anatomy.
Then September came! Watching the soaps and one character found a lump on her neck which was cancer - so that prompted me to think “oh, I have a lump” and immediately start prodding and poking it (keep in mind it’s felt the same for the last ten years). Then I did the classic thing of googling what it could be, which sent me into a total downward spiral. Within a few hours I’d convinced myself it was something sinister so booked a doctors appointment - in the meantime I spent the days running up to the appointment prodding and poking it still. Went to the doctors and saw GP number 1 who does the minor surgeries at the practice and also refers the bigger surgeries she cannot perform. She felt it and said that it felt like a normal lymph node and didn’t feel like anything to worry about but to return if it grew, became painful or bled. Came out the surgery feeling amazing, then half an hour later I doubted her. Decided I couldn’t go on and referred myself to Mind and began counselling, and was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder that manifests into different forms depending on what I’m worried about at the time - so currently heath anxiety. Went back to see GP number 2 for a different reason and mentioned my lump - he felt it, didn’t seem overly concerned but said he could send me for a scan and bloods to give me peace of mind. He also checked my bloods from a week or so before and said my white blood cell count was normal.
Went for an ultrasound on my node, cried at the sonographer (yes, really!) and he said that everything looked normal to him, blood flow was normal, measuring at 4mm and that 10mm or above is a concern, and that nothing on his screen was giving him the need to worry, and to see my GP for a routine report of it. Again, came out feeling fabulous! More so that after a few sessions at Mind I was discharged because I felt on top of the world and that I was finally feeling like my old self. My counsellor was lovely and told me I could always go back if needed.
Then I started worrying again. Now I’ve prodded and poked the area around this node constantly, and now I’m getting a twinge in the area/node itself two or three times a day. Then I googled some more and the outcome was still bad, so went to see GP number 3. I asked for a biopsy and said that I’d read that NHL can only be diagnosed via a biopsy, he told me that based on my scan they probably wouldn’t do one because there was no need at all, it all looked normal. He also said that a biopsy carries risks. I asked why I was getting the pain and he said probably because of the prodding and poking that I was doing, but because I’m seeing GP number 2 next week mention it to him and see what he thinks, so I’ve had two opinions rather than one. He then said my latest blood test (iron levels have been low since being pregnant, been on iron tablets for 6 months, recent test showed levels were borderline and to have the test repeated in a month - this is good news I’m hoping that they’re borderline cause usually they’re still really low) showed that my white blood cell count was slightly low, but not low enough to need anything. As you can imagine my anxiety went through the roof!

I’ve tried to rationalise this; the blood test before my last one the doctor said my WBC was normal. My most recent one was slightly low - at the time I had the blood test both my husband and daughter were full of the cold virus that’s been going around, and a couple of days after my blood test I came down with the same virus, so I’m thinking it was probably already in my system, causing a drop in number.

I’m getting a pain in my chest even writing this - yet earlier I was fine. I’ve also noticed that some days I can get up and I feel great but as soon as I start to think about my lymph node or anything health related, I get chest pain, back pain, the ache in/around my lump. I know it’s all linked with my anxiety, but it’s taking over my life. I’ve spent tonight lying in bed feeling my chest for any other lumps, then convinced myself I could feel some, but again rationally, a ladies chest skin is very soft and you can often feel the muscles and other vessels in them.

I’m back to see GP number 2 on Monday - I’m going to ask him for his opinion on my node and why he thinks I feel pain around it. I am really hoping he says the pain is because I’ve bothered it that much over the last 3 months that it just needs time to recover. I’m also going to see about going on medication for my anxiety. Going to Mind did help me, but no amount of CBT can get me through this one, I feel medication might be best.


Sorry for the massively long post - I just needed to get it all off my chest. I’m lying in bed with my little family around me worrying that I might not be around for them, it’s literally taking over every aspect of my life and I’m worrying about not being here, it’s making me so upset that I can’t seem to control it.
 
L

Livebythesea

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
132
Location
East Coast
As someone who tried IVF, twice, a big congratulations on your miracle baby! And as someone who has suffered with depression and anxiety and been on many different medications I can say that the only thing that has ever helped me are anxiety medications. It stops the cycling of thoughts and is very helpful. I hope you're able to get on one soon and have success. Sounds like you're doing everything you can to get a definitive diagnosis...hope you continue to get good news and some temporary medication relief will hopefully help too.
 
A

Anxietymum

New member
Joined
Dec 6, 2019
Messages
4
Location
UK
Thank you so much for your reply Livebythesea and for your congratulations - you’ll know how draining all those appointments are too! Can I ask what medication you’re on? And do you feel any side effects? My friends on two different ones - I think one of them is Sertaline (?) and she found she needed her dosage increased as she didn’t feel it was working
 
L

Livebythesea

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
132
Location
East Coast
Thank you so much for your reply Livebythesea and for your congratulations - you’ll know how draining all those appointments are too! Can I ask what medication you’re on? And do you feel any side effects? My friends on two different ones - I think one of them is Sertaline (?) and she found she needed her dosage increased as she didn’t feel it was working
Oh, yes the appointments for IVF - wow! I was on clonozepam (klonopin) and have also taken Xanax - if you take too much you could feel groggy the next day, so you have to find what works for your body, but it helped me to stop worrying so much.
 
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