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Health Anxiety

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  • #382558
    nycartist
    Participant

    I was diagnosed last year with Premature Ovarian Failure. I am 39 and basically in menopause. I did start treatment for this, taking hormone therapy since January, and it’s been frustrating trying to get on the right treatment plan. First my dose was waaaay too high, and I had symptoms, now I worry it’s too low and I’m not getting the benefits I’m supposed to be getting while also increasing my chance of getting cancer one day.

    I also am approaching 40, the year my mother had a massive stroke and became disabled due to birth control. This is all super triggering to me, being on a similar medication, approaching the age this major health event happened to my mother, and feeling total lack of control over what my body is doing.

    I think of other people who have it worse than me, people undergoing cancer treatment, or with disabilities like my mother, or lifelong health issues and wonder how they live day to day without the worry consuming them. I seem to be unable to get control of my thoughts and relax. I’m always worried about future implications from this diagnosis, and the hormones. Every little things now is freaking me out. Example, I sprained a finger and am worried it’s actually arthritis or the beginnings of osteoperosis. My husband tells me all the time that the stress and worry will cause more problems than this diagnosis but I can’t stop my brain.

    How do people with ongoing health issues make peace with it and carry on? I’m feeling very depressed and hopeless about it all.

     

    #382568
    anita
    Participant

    Dear nycartist:

    I spent some time re-reading parts of our past communication. In regard to Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), I suggested to you back in February 2020 that ovarian failure is something that happens to every woman on the face of the earth, and that (in my unprofessional understanding), the risks of POF are the same risks inherent in aging itself, only that when having had POF or premature menopause, aging starts earlier in life.

    Basically (again, I am not a medical professional), seems to me that you are facing the same risks that women about 10 years older than you are facing (following their normal menopause).

    Your response back then was: “You are right, the ‘risks’ are basically aging faster. And though the term seriously sucks, all ovaries eventually fail at some point. It doesn’t mean my body is broken. As I mentioned, this has motivated me to approach a healthier lifestyle, which can only help, no matter what. As for medical treatment, I’m still searching for answers… I’m facing possibly long-term hormonal treatment which makes me anxious. But I have to weigh the benefits and risks”.

    Fast forward 11 months, you started hormone therapy in January 2021, the dose was way too high, now you are worried that it’s too low; you are approaching the age when your mother suffered a stroke because of birth control pills that she took, and you are worried about the risks of aging and the risks in the hormonal therapy itself.

    “My husband tells me all the time that the stress and worry will cause more problems than this diagnosis but I can’t stop my brain. How do people with ongoing health issues make peace with it and carry on? I’m feeling very depressed and hopeless about it all”-

    – My thoughts today: (1) Because you did not/ do not take birth control pills, there is no logic behind you fearing to get a stroke like your mother did, is there?

    (2) Your husband is correct- there are serious risks in “stress and worry”, and you can significantly lower those risks by significantly lowering your stress and worry levels, either by seeing a doctor for psychiatric medications, and/ or by having a daily aerobic exercise routine, as well as practicing some yoga, guided meditations with the theme of mindfulness, and other mindfulness exercises and practices,

    (3) Post again anytime, vent, express yourself.. and let me know if and what kind of input you would like from me.

    anita

     

    #382640
    Peggy
    Participant

    Hello Nycartist,

    I am sorry to hear that your diagnosis is causing you such angst.  You are going through an early menopause and are receiving medication to help with that.  At the moment, that seems to be the only thing that is wrong with you.  Seek advice as to whether or not your treatment in itself can contribute to a heart attack or cancer.  I don’t think it can.  Deal with one day at a time.  Listen to your husband when he tells you that your worrying will be detrimental to you in the long term.  Worrying about what will happen is futile.  It is always better to look for solutions than to look for problems.  Be grateful for all the things you have in your life today.  Go for walks in nature and meditate on all the beauty you see around you.  Breathe deeply whilst standing by a tree or walking through woodlands.  Feel glad to be alive.  As soon as negative thoughts of the future arise, say STOP.  Turn your thoughts around and focus on a future positive event.  Plan for outings that you can enjoy and accept invitations for get-togethers, hopefully with positive people.  It can be very uplifting.  Find reasons to celebrate.  You have this one life – get out there and enjoy it.  Whether you think positively or negatively, you are making a choice.  It’s up to you and no-one else.

    I wish you health and happiness.

    Peggy

    #382665
    Megan
    Participant

    I think it’s important to note that health anxiety, or anxiety in general, does not follow the rules of logic. There is no way for us to rationally understand it, because it is inherently irrational. It’s hard to grasp this unless you’ve had personal experience with it, and even then, we, as humans, often fail to understand it when we’re on the outside looking in. We want things to fit into a box. We want to be able to classify things neatly & easily, but, as with most things in life, are not that simple. So when someone says “don’t worry – it’s not likely to happen” or tell you that “more worry isn’t good for you” or something along those lines, just remember that they are not trying to invalidate your pain. They are trying to help, but they don’t have the tools necessary to do so. And that isn’t a bad thing, it just is the way it is. Your partner is probably concerned about you, but they don’t know what to say or how to help. I would personally suggest journaling as your first outlet and going to your husband as your second for the time being.

    Now, onto your bigger concern – how to deal with all of this. You’re in luck, because I myself am just getting over health anxiety. I’m not 100% over it, but days are brighter and I have a reason to be out of bed again! I got here through 2 main things. Radical self-compassion and radical self-acceptance. These are terms that are thrown around a lot, so I will explain what that looked like for me.

    Radical self-compassion meant silencing my inner critic. I became hyper aware of the judgments I was having about my anxiety, and, man, they were NOT pretty. Before I could even consider changing them, I needed to accept that. First, I started pointing out (in my head and sometimes even out loud) when my inner dialogue was critical or mean. I just said to myself “that was mean” or “that’s a lie“.

    From there, I progressed to “neutralizing” the mean/untrue statements. My #1 was calling myself stupid, and my #2 was calling myself crazy. So whenever I said it, I would say the opposite. There is a major caveat here – you have to believe whatever you are saying. So if you say “I’m ugly”, and you go to say “I am a sexy goddess” – you better believe that with every ounce of your being.

    Sometimes I couldn’t say the opposite, so I just went with neutral. For example, when I would nag myself about how unhealthy I am. I still don’t believe I am all that good at taking care of my body so I would just neutralize it with the thought “I have a body that works”. Get really good at being kind to yourself. And forgive yourself in the moments you forget to be kind.

    The radical self-acceptance part meant that I am where I am in life because that is exactly where I am meant to be. Same goes for everyone else. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got on any given day, and sometimes that means we’ve got less to give during certain seasons of our life than others. Sometimes we have less to give than we’d really like, but that is not a bad thing. And having more to give during other seasons is not a good thing. It just is. It is the way it is because it is. It might sound overly simplistic, but this allowed me to stop comparing my struggle to others. We’re all perfectly infinite beings trying to live life in our imperfect human form. And imperfection is a requirement for being human.

    Just know, this too shall pass when you’re ready. That might be this week, this year, or maybe not for many years. You are in control of the energy you give your anxiety. Everything that exists is just energy. Everything, everyone, every thought, every emotion. And it’s up to us to learn how to ground ourselves in the present moment to allow the energy of big emotions to pass through us I’m going to be making a YouTube video about this soon if you’re interested.

    You are stronger than you think!! You’ve made it through 100% of your bad days thus far! That’s a pretty impeccable record if I do say so myself!

    Best of luck!

    #382680
    nycartist
    Participant

    Thank you all for these wonderful responses. It’s really very helpful.

    I am working on the mindfulness, and have a therapist whom I work with on grounding exercises, like tapping, and breathing techniques. Even some EMDR exercises to get into the present. They help about half the time. I went and made a doctor’s appointment with my physician because the anxiety was eating away at me. She suggested I try anti anxiety medication. It may end up coming to that if I can’t get control of my thoughts. I will for sure keep trying.

    I also keep thinking about how in the present, everyone is “healthy” (though my husband has an autoimmune disease which can flare up at any time, which also adds to my anxiety, and I’m dealing with this), we are all fully functioning and physically able bodied right now. I have to find a way to be thankful in these moments, because if the anxiety is running away with me while we are healthy, what will happen if/when something is actually wrong?

    I feel sometimes like my body has reached its stress limit in life. I had such an awful childhood, even into adulthood, I had issues with family drama that was incredibly toxic and stressful. Now it feels like my fight or flight defense mechanism is triggered over the smallest of things. I just feel badly for my body, all the stress it’s been through seems like it’s taken a toll on it. 🙁 I don’t mean to sound like I’m having a pity party, but I’m just in a bit of a dark place with my thoughts these days.

    I will try to do the things you’ve all suggested and hope it helps.. Thank you again.

     

    #382682
    anita
    Participant

    Dear nycartist:

    You are welcome. When all else fails, there is nothing like soaking in a hot bath to melt away that stress, at least for a while. And when the stress goes up again- another hot bath will do the trick. Although for some, it may be a cold shower that will do it. Maybe swimming in a pool for half an hour a day.. something about water is very calming and refreshing.

    anita

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