Hello all....I'm hoping this will be a good outlet for my health anxieties! I also really hope I can give advice to others....I've kind of been down the road, so to speak, with health anxiety. I'm 32 and I'm not sure what started it, but I've had health anxiety worries severely off and on for about 7 years...as a child I had two incidences I can remember, but otherwise I was a fairly happy child. As a child, I had extreme stomach (bowel) issues and the docs couldn't find anything, so they attributed it to anxiety. I also remember thinking I had cancer a few times; I was probably about 10. My mother's side of the family has extreme anxiety issues overall (mother, aunt, cousins), so I'm sure some of it is genetic.
As I got old (and more educated?) things got worse. I studied biology (although environmental science, not medicine) so I have a good grasp on how to interpret data and any time I had a health concern I would look it up, read papers, worry myself sick, etc. The things I've worried about over the years have normally stemmed from some actual thing, and the docs found something most of the time, but I don't think "normal" people would worry quite as much as I do?
~I leaned down to a bat in the woods during the day, and although I didn't touch it I was convinced that it spit on me and I was going to get rabies from it...had to get myself rabies shots. That was kind of embarrassing.
~I felt a boob lump (?) and got an ultrasound, mammogram, etc and the docs didn't see anything, could have been a fibroadenoma
~I sort of kind of felt my floating rib and moved it, it hurt from then on - I was convinced it was a tumor or something (I can't rationalize this one away). X-ray, MRI, and HIDA scan later (doc thought it might be my gallbladder) they found nothing. And it's now better.
~Heart palpitations - did EKG, echocardiogram, doc diagnosed them as benign PVCs. Once I knew they were benign they basically went away. Of course.
~Had various moles removed over the years because I thought they were cancerous even though the doc didn't think they were.
~current obsession, which I can't figure out how to get over because there is no way to test me for the future
: I just found out (a month ago) my parent's home has extremely elevated radon levels (bed rooms: 26 pCi/L and 22 pCi/L) and I am CONVINCED I am doomed to get cancer. I contacted some experts in the field who said if I don't smoke, my risk is low, and I haven't lived there for a number of years, but I am still TERRIFIED. EPA website says: if you live at 20 pCi/L for your life (70 years) then your risk is approx 36/1000 if you don't smoke. So I lived at ~26 pCi/L for 20 years, I smoked a handful of instances, but I was also a baby/child in that house so my breathing rate was higher, is my risk lower or higher than 36/1000? 3.6% seems like a high risk considering the risk of regular non-smoking people is like 1/100,000 or something? I analyze things too much for my own good. No one can tell me for sure I will be fine, and it's terrifying. I don't want to die young.
I saw my uncle (smoker) die of lung cancer, I've been to many funerals in the past few years (I have an older family), and both my elderly parents have had various health issues over the past few years that have sent them to the hospital, so I think that's where my anxiety stems from as of late. I have also been generally stressed over the past year due to work, husband's family issues (biiiiig money issue), etc.
I keep going through each day not fully happy, thinking I'm going to die soon. I cannot live like this, but I don't know how to change it. I have found that yoga helps (as well as meditation when I can concentrate on it). I have been seeing a therapist for a long while, and she's trying to work me out. I also was put on 5 mg of buspirone twice daily but it doesn't seem to do much. I have been considering a) trying more meditation, perhaps a yoga retreat, b) getting a dog (don't have a pet, hear that helps), and c) getting on some stronger anxiety meds.
Doesn't help that I have been having coughing issues that the doc thinks is acid reflux related. Sooooo scary!!
Anyway, that's me in a nutshell. Thanks for listening! Hoping I can help people and people can help me.