Sunday, October 3, 2010

oh good.

I blogged last july in a post entitled "well hello there" about my anxiety concerning my physical health. BTW if anyone knows the secret to posting a link to previous posts, let me in on it ok? Anyways, this was a fairly new form for my anxiety to take and it was really stressing me out. Then the flood happened and all that followed that and I guess I was too busy worrying about other things because I really didnt obsess any more about my heath or physical symptoms for awhile. Unfortunately this past week it has started up again, and has been particularly bad over the weekend. And I have to confess that I have been visiting my old friend, Web MD. Bad, Lisa, bad! In the past two days I have diagnosed myself with a bowel obstruction (which may be caused by a cancerous tumor), an aortic dissection, and DVT (deep vein thrombosis). Ok in reality I'm pretty sure I just had indigestion and a sore leg. It even seems a little humorous to me now but seriously when it is happeneing it is not funny! Like for instance when I thought my bowel was obstructed I was thinking I would need emergency surgery and I might not make it through the weekend, and if I did I might have to deal with having bowel cancer. I was grief stricken thinking of having to tell my girls that they would have to grow up without me and sad to know I would not be here to see them graduate or get married. I was scared, I prayed, I resigned myself to death, and then panicked and got scared all over again. It was like going through the stages of death and dying all at once! Its hard to because I go through it all alone. I don't tell my husband that much about it anymore because he just rolls his eyes. I don't blame him; he probably got tired of my worries which to an outsider seem ridiculous. So anyways, I usually just search through online information, which I probably shouldn't do since it always scares me. I did call the Nurseline yesterday, which is something I try not to do, since it gets charted and a report is sent to Dr. Sean. If I called the Nurseline everytime I have a concern he would get all these reports, and then he would probably never take me seriously again. But I AM proud of myself that I didnt go to the ER last night. The Web MD site was telling me that a bowel obstruction was a medical emergency and I had all the symptoms and I REALLY was scared and want to go in, but I just talked to myself and said "Lisa, it's just going to be like all the other times you went in and nothing was wrong with you and the staff was annoyed and you were embarassed.". So I stayed home, I was so stressed out that I ate some pizza and gumdrops that I wasn't even hungry for. Not the best choice if I really had an obstruction. Luckily I discovered this morning that my bowel wasn't obstructed (not going to go into details but I think you all know what I mean!). But then in church I found a sore spot in my leg and I started thinking I had DVT and I started to panic and had a hard time focusing on the sermon. But I made it home ok and my leg feels better now.

Ok, seriously, as long as I am on this earth and have a body I am going to have physical sensations and discomforts. How can I manage if everytime I feel a twinge it sends me on a rollercoaster of fear and despair? Is this the "new thing" now, now that my ED is mostly under control. Let me explain my history briefly: I started therapy at 11-12 years old because I was having horrible panic attacks which mostly centered around me whole-heartedly believing my mother was dead whenever she went somewhere. I would cry, scream, go crazy with grief, sometimes be so upset I would vomit. Then she would come home and I would cling to her and cry, so happy she was alive. This was exhausting for me and my family. My mom never felt like she could go anywhere. I would sit in school all day worrying about if my mom had plans to go anywhere that evening. Prior to her going anywhere, I was in my "logical state" and I knew that the evening would end with her coming home safely. I just dreaded the panic that would take over once she left. And of course, once I was in the middle of it, no logical reasoning, not pointing out past examples, could bring me out of the terror I was in and make me believe she was safe and alive.
So anyway, when I was 13 I had about 6 months where I developed anorexia, and the panic disorder seemed to leave a suddenly as it started. But under the direction of my therapist and psychiatrist, I discontinued the ED behavior (I was still a good little girl). That was when I developed OCD. Checking to make sure everything in the house was unplugged and the stove and furnace were off before I could sleep (and getting up to check again and again). Turning around to go back home to make sure the house wasn't on fire. And one that is kind of funny : I could never sleep with underwear on because I was convinced that somehow the underwear would work its way up around my neck and strangle me as I slept :). Anyways, this went on until I was around 16-17, when I again developed anorexia and then a year later, bulimia. and It has been the ED ever since. A year and a half ago I tackled the anorexia on my own (not in a hospital) and have maintained a healthy weight since then. And the past 6 months have seen a decrease and finally an end to the purging. I still have poor body image, and I have some ed thoughts, but this is the most recovered I have ever been. I'm finally starting to feel normal.

And now this.

Just to clarify, I didn't one day say "oh I think I'll stop the OCD and become anorexic now" or switch between anxiety symptoms on purpose or anything like that. In fact, I didn't even notice in happening until my mid 20's when I realised that durring periods of ED recovery my anxiety was worse. Then I looked back and discovered the pattern.
My personal theory is that I used my ED to control my anxiety without realizing it. For some reason, engaging in ED behaviors had a calming effect on me, and when I was not in my ED I felt anxious and out of control.

It's discouraging to realize that I might always have to deal with my anxiety disorder. Some forms of anxiety I can handle better than others. This "health anxiety" though, its awful. It really, really sucks. It is almost as bad as thinking my mom is dead. I think the worst part is "knowing" my girls will have to lose their mom and thinking about them. I said "knowing" because when I am going through it, it really is that real.

Ok I have gone on long enough. If you have made it this far, congratulations. Actually if you have made it this far, thank you, because it means I am not alone. I'm really not sure what the point of this post was. It just kind of took on a life of its own. I think I meant to ask advice, before I got sidetracked on my history and stuff. I think I went off about my history so you would understand what I meant by "the new thing".

Have any of you ever obsessed about your health to the point where you were convinced you were dying? Was there anything that helped?



The Bed Dog said...

i've never commented on your blog before. reading this post just reminded me so much of how i was when i was younger too. my fear wasn't really as well-defined, but any time my mom went out i was hysterical. and it did kind of limit her expeditions... also used to get homesick if i was sleeping over somewhere. usually my parents had to come and fetch me because i got physically sick with homesickness. actually, i can relate to much of what you've written in this post. also around 11/12 my eating started getting weird, although with binge-eating rather than restricted eating, and after/around the same time, some ocd-type things, although mostly if not only thoughts and obsessions. and recently i have experienced to a degree the same kind of health anxiety, especially having chest pain, when i end up going to bed half-convinced i'll be dead in my sleep, but just think "oh fuck it, i don't care" and then wake up the next morning anyway.

it's definitely not a fun thing to deal with. i can only say: congratulations for recovering so much from an eating disorder. not that suffering from health anxieties is more "fun"...

kristin said...

I have been through something similar. I developed panic attacks and OCD and struggled with them for many years until I fell into an Ed that kept changing symptoms or adding symptoms. Now with Ed more under control, my OCD is flaring up. It's crazy. You are so not alone.

PS: I am a bit of a hypochondriac. WebMD scares the crap out of me every time, too.

Angela E. Gambrel Lackey said...

You're not alone. I've struggled with depression and anxiety, plus OCD, in addition to anorexia. I also believe I developed anorexia to deal with my anxiety problems. Now it's just kicking ED to the curb!



I Hate to Weight said...

i'm dealing with a lot of anxiety right now == no drugs, no drinks, no binging, purging or starving. now what? feelings. panic.

there have absolutely been times when i thought i was dying -- got checked many times for cancer and other assorted. there was a solid year where i kept going to the doctor with headaches, sure i was going blind. lots and lots of issues.

doesn't mean you don't have a right to your fears. sounds like you're doing the best you can, and that's what you're doing. good work.

YAY on not binging and purging. AMAZING. and it is such hard work.

i used to hate to leave the house because i thought my mother was going to die if i left the house. this went on for a long time.

things are getting better for me these days, although some days are a lot harder than other.

i think we hang on, hang in, take the steps and then, yes, move forward -- at our own pace.

take care!

kris said...

I'm just catching up, so I wanted to let you know that your last post was really inspiring and you are such a strong person!

As for this latest post, I can't tell you how I read this with wide eyes because I've never actually known what it is like to have an anxiety disorder. It is absolutely amazing to hear all that you have been through and it makes me believe that you are one of the strongest people I have ever "met" (quotations since obviously we have never met in the real non-internet world). I think that your little girls are so lucky to have such a great mother to look up to, even if they are young enough that they might not realize how strong you are yet.

Not being a doctor and having never experienced anxiety like yours, I cannot say for sure that this is true, but I think your idea that you use your ED to cope with anxiety and calm yourself sounds like a good explanation. Occasionally, I find myself wondering if I have one condition or another after reading things like WebMD and I find that, for me at least, thinking about the basic anatomy (or looking it up in an anatomy book) is really useful for ruling things out. I'm not sure if this would help or make matters worse for you, but you might find that getting an anatomy textbook and even just reading it once in a while to learn about the parts of the body and the way their functions relate to one another might be useful. On the other hand, if you find reading textbooks as boring as I do at times, this might only be a last resort anyway. I just figure that doctors have to take anatomy courses and so reading that might help me to better understand why something (a self-diagnosis) is unlikely true.

Oh and for linking back to a previous entry, I think you should be able to simply insert a hyperlink (though I haven't tried this yet on blogger) the html would be this: "text naming your entry" Obviously, just remove the quotes at the very beginning and end of what I typed and place your own link and text.

Hope your week has been good so far!!

kris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kris said...

Ok, still not a complete success, you need to change the &It; to a "<"

expwoman said...

I have struggled with health anxiety since I was 8 or 9--it really does suck. But I finally got diagnosed with OCD and found an Exposure and Response Prevention therapist and that has made such a difference. Yes, I will probably always have thoughts about whether something is cancer, a dvt or appendicitis, but now I've learned that to look things up online is a compulsion, similar to crack in its short term potency in giving relief, and then long term hell, and that I can never know absolutely for sure what my symptoms mean, and that the more I tolerate the anxiety, eventually it recedes as long as I am not compulsing--that's great you didn't go to the ER!