I am a victim of health anxiety. Yes, it does affect me every day of my life, and it can be quite draining. You could say I’m a hypochondriac, but I don’t think that’s the nicest of terms to use really. I just worry excessively about my health, and the main focus of it all revolves around my Emetophobia (the fear of sick). Also before I get started, I should mention that Nicole has written all about her experiences with health anxiety over on my blog, should you want to have a read! You can
I know the majority of people will just google their symptoms as soon as they feel an ache or pain, it’s what we all do these days. I think I do it a bit excessively, however, googling symptom after symptom, linking it to whatever I can find. I think a bit of backstory is needed to where this all began. Well, I know I’ve suffered from Emetophobia ever since I was little...like really little. I must have been about 4 or 5 when I first suffered a sort of ‘panic attack’ if you will, over my best friend being sick in my house.
I remember it so clearly, for no reason at all, I was petrified, and I just remember sitting on my Mum and Dad’s bed crying my eyes out. Since then, there have been multiple occasions of panic when people have been sick near me, but the worst is when I personally feel sick.
Back in 2015, I started feeling sick pretty much daily, and that’s where the health anxiety really kicked in. I was googling why I felt so sick all of the time, it was giving me all these different answers, and I would convince myself each week I had something different and that I had to report to the doctors immediately. The amount of hours I spent in the doctor’s surgery that year was crazy. They never actually found anything wrong (obviously), but I was still convinced because Google said I had something wrong, so that must mean I do?! I really wanted a blood test done, to check I really didn’t have anything wrong with me. But I have a pretty severe needle phobia as well, meaning a blood test was a big fat no. So that left me with even more anxiety than ever, as I thought the time was ticking and I didn’t have long left because I had this illness I would never know about because I wouldn’t have a blood test. It was mentally draining, to say the least, and it seriously affected my mental health. It’s a real problem having health anxiety, and I don’t think people realise the full extent of it.
Luckily, in August 2016 I managed to finally overcome my needle phobia and pluck up the courage to have a blood test. Turns out there’s absolutely nothing wrong, except I’m anaemic. So I was wrong all along, my anxiety was telling me differently. Anaemia is nothing that can’t be fixed, I was just prescribed iron tablets and voila – done. However, since 2015, I have pretty much been triggered non-stop. I’m still googling my symptoms left, right and centre, diagnosing myself all the time with some new problem. I also have trouble taking medicine, as I’m convinced it’s going to make me throw up. You’d think I’d take all the medicine in the world, given I’m so scared of being ill, but I actually work myself up that the medicine is going to affect me. I always read the huge list of side effects on the leaflet, and convince myself I’ll get at least one of those, so the drugs aren’t even worth taking. As you can see, it’s all a vicious circle really. Thinking you feel ill, then actually getting medicine for your issues, then feeling like you can’t even take it, in fright it might actually make you ill.
I am getting better, however, slowly but surely. I had a cold a few weeks ago, a pretty severe one but I stopped myself from googling anything and waiting for a proper doctor’s appointment, where everything was clear, and I was told I just needed to wait it out. On the other hand, whenever I feel nauseous I go into full on panic mode, but I think that’s more to do with the Emetophobia. Although, it links in with health anxiety. I suffer from severe panic attacks when I feel sick, or feel like I might be that it’s actually quite frightening. I just have to wait it out, and calm down, and after a while, I start to feel better and realise that I’m panicking for no reason, as I’m not actually going to be sick.
Basically, there’s my story struggling with health anxiety and being a ‘hypochondriac’. My main issue is the Emetophobia, but I would say I suffer from health anxiety in general, not fun at all. All I can suggest is getting CBT therapy which I should hopefully be going back to, and/or speaking to your GP about medication to help you with the anxieties you’re facing. If you suffer from health anxiety, I’m open to discuss, and I know how awful it can be.
I hope you enjoyed this guest post from Lucy, sometimes I think it’s good to get other people’s perspectives and stories on my blog, to create more diverse content.
You can check out the post I did on Lucy’s blog HERE