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-   -   Suffering from extreme health/death anxiety. Help?! (https://www.recoveryourlife.com/forum/showthread.php?t=259493)

Sharkgirl 29-12-2019 03:24 AM

Suffering from extreme health/death anxiety. Help?!
Alright. This is my first post on here so here goes:

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety. I have no other serious medical conditions and no history with epilepsy or asthma.

I have recently moved to a new city, to attend university. Everything was smooth for 3 months. Except that I was a little bit lonely and stressed when it came to meeting deadlines. In maybe late November I had what I can only describe as a panic attack in the library. I phoned my Mum anxious that I was going to die. She relaxed me and told me I would be fine. I went back to my flat and had a nap which fixed it. No more ill feeling. At least not to that degree. I still felt woozy at lectures but it never lead to anything.

Then on the 7th Dec I woke up at 5. I read for a little bit, then turned on the TV and made some breakfast. I didn't have much just cereal and coffee. Halfway through my show, I suddenly had a funny feeling in my stomach. I got up and something felt wrong. Really wrong. I ran to the bathroom where I immediately vomited. Usually I would have slept this off. But I was suddenly overcome with such dizziness, nausea and shakiness that I was sure I was dying. I kept calling my parents, my breathing shallow. They assured me I would be fine.

My flatmates brought me water and one of them very nicely got some support (uni guards) to sit with me and try and talk me out of the panic. I was too scared to sleep for fear I would slip away. I phoned the doctor and she told me I had a virus made worse by my anxiety. I phoned my Dad and he drove 2 hours down the road and stayed with me overnight, taking me home in the morning.

In the days that followed, I had multiple panic attacks. They were scary and made me feel like I was dying every time I had them. I spent the days in bed, eating little and unable to concentrate on the things I enjoyed. My only respite was sleep and even that frightened me in case I died in it.

We made a doctor's appointment and got blood tests. They all came back satisfactory. A second appointment had a doctor listen to my heart rate, check my oxygen levels and my neurological coordination. I passed each test. She was very understanding and told me it sounded like I needed to up my sertraline dosage to 150mg. She also prescribed me 40mg of propranolol. I was initially worried about side effects but the first propranolol worked like a charm the first time I took it. But the days afterwards I still felt anxious.

I've stopped shaking and my heart is beating fine but I still feel really dizzy even lying down. Very weak too. It's the weakness I'm scared of the most. It makes me think death is near. I'm just so scared that I'm dying nearly every hour I haven't left my house in days. I'm eating well again but I sometimes still feel nauseous. My ultimate fear is fainting and never waking up.

To make things worse, when I think of things that make me happy, my OCD tells me that I will forever associate the things I like with these scary thoughts and I will have a panic attack. I feel so trapped. I've been to three psychologists in my life. I've had 5 years of no anxiety and now this has hit. I'm on medication. I'm still frightened I'm dying or wasting away from the inside out, pointing to my dizziness and weakness as clues.

I've been told I'm healthy but I still feel ill. I had a worrisome Christmas when I should have been enjoying myself. I try to cry as a release but I'm worried that I will become weaker and bring on the dying process quicker. I worry about cancer, brain tumours, encephalitis, immune diseases, anaemia, even though none of these showed up in my blood test.

A symptom of OCD is that I seek reassurance. I might sound irrational during these times but in the moment it feels very real. I need some helpful advice and a kind word. Thank you.

one_step_closer 29-12-2019 01:23 PM

That sounds really scary and upsetting, I'm sorry you're going through this. I don't really have much advice, apologies, I just wondered if there was a way you could self reassure for the times when you might not be able to get in contact with people? Remembering the reassurances that other people have given you in the past and maybe keeping a written record of them handy might be useful. It's not unusual to have a flare up of MH symptoms with big changes, even if you cope ok to begin with. Are you in therapy at the moment? Do you think it would help to talk things through with someone? Your uni might have a student counselling service you could use. I really hope that you can find a way through this soon. Welcome to RYL.

Sharkgirl 29-12-2019 03:19 PM

Thank you for your reply!
A symptom of OCD is that your seek reassurance constantly so my poor parents have to listen to the question "Are you sure I'm not going to die?" I've become so conscious of my own body that at the slightest bit of nausea or dizziness I feel really sick and that spikes my anxiety. The propranolol stops me shaking but it does nothing for the wooziness. It's like I've forgotten how to feel right again if that makes sense.

Yes luckily my uni has a (I'm told) very good and helpful councilling service for struggling students. But I'm worried about being labeled a "problem student" like in high school where I had to perform my exams in a separate room because due to OCD I was easily irritated and distracted by the sound of a cough or sneeze.

I just feel really sick all the time and I worry about being sick again. I think it's sense memory. I like your idea about writing down reassuring things. I've been listening to Headspace and trying to create my own peaceful scenario.

one_step_closer 29-12-2019 03:45 PM

It must be hard to be stuck in that cycle of feeling unwell and worrying about it which will probably then just make you feel more unwell. How were you managing your OCD and anxiety before this happened? I think uni is different from school with regards to counselling and looking after student's well being. On a side note, do you think you need extra support at uni? There might be a disability service if you haven't accessed it already that could help put things in place to take a bit of pressure off you.

Trying to create a sense of peace for yourself is a really good idea, I hope you can manage to find something that is useful and handy to be able to use. I understand the need to seek reassurance from other people, it's often not the same when you try to do it yourself. Would recordings made by the people you trust be an option, so that you could listen to them when people aren't available?

Cacoethes 29-12-2019 03:47 PM

I bought one of those heart rate/oxygen monitors that go on your finger when I kept feeling like I was dying.
It helped to see that my pulse and oxygen were ok.

Sharkgirl 29-12-2019 06:19 PM

one-step-closer - I wouldn't want to take advantage of the disability service because my anxiety has only ever last 1 month or 2 and then fades but the counseling I am definitely going to pursue. It would be a waste not to use help when it's available. Knowing my family they would record something funny or sweet. ^^

Cacoethes - That sounds like a good idea but I'm not sure where to find one or how much it would cost (at least in Stirling pound currency) It would certainly put my mind at rest but the trouble with OCD is just trying to use CBT to curb the illogical thoughts because I would see normal levels and my mind would still tell me I'm dying!
I heard you can get your blood tests printed out so maybe that will put my mind to rest.

Sharkgirl 29-12-2019 06:23 PM

Also can I just say thank you so much for the warm welcome here. Another OCD panic-related behaviour I have is asking reassurance on ask sites. Some people are helpful some aren't. Especially Yahoo Answers. I got some horrible responses. I mean yes I posted the same or similiar questions over and over again and I understand that's annoying but in that anxious moment my brain seems to think the illogical is possible despite the fact I'm a rational person.

Cacoethes 29-12-2019 06:34 PM

I picked mine up for about 10 off Amazon

I'm sure you could get your blood test results on paper. Would be worth looking into if you think it would help

I hope you continue to find this site helpful :)

one_step_closer 30-12-2019 11:07 AM

The machine is called a pulse oximeter if that helps you to find it. I also have one.

Sharkgirl 30-12-2019 12:44 PM

Does anyone here know a quick cure for nausea/general sick/hot flush feeling?

Sharkgirl 30-12-2019 01:02 PM

OK my anxiety attacks are back and I'm really scared!!!! I've just taken one of my beta blockers because I was starting to shake and my teeth are chattering. It was brought on because I felt nauseaous and dizzy and my breathing got shallow. I'm scared to fall asleep in case I die. I've been told by the doctor and my parents that that won't happen but I feel so sick and have this sense of impending doom. And my vision is doing this thing where everything feels sharper. I feel hot all over even though I don't have a fever. I'm scared my brain won't get enough oxygen and I'll die!!!! I'm really panicking! This came on so suddenly. My symptoms can sometimes last for more than an hour. Help!

Cacoethes 30-12-2019 01:03 PM

I think ginger is supposed to be good for nausea.
Like ginger tea or nibbling on a ginger biscuit
Worked when I had morning sickness anyway

Sorry if you've heard this before but have you tried breathing exercises?
I'm sure you can find some good ones online

one_step_closer 30-12-2019 01:06 PM

This might sound really silly but blowing bubbles sometimes helps ease a panic attack. Also the dive reflex thing of sticking your face in really cold water.

I hope you can get some relief soon.

Sharkgirl 30-12-2019 02:23 PM

Thank you, you are both so so kind. I've calmed down a little bit and stopped shaking. The beta blockers have slowed my heart rate and I'm steadying my breathing. All that's left is the lightheadedness. My Mum and Dad, bless them, are buying me ginger snaps to eat because of their natural nausea fixing remedies. The symptoms came on so suddenly I was scared I was dying. Nausea, dizziness, rapid breathing, hot flushes, fainty feeling and shaking. I've never fainted before, never been a fainter but I always worry about it. I'm mostly scared of not regaining consciousness.

Is it common to feel fatigue and hot after a panic attack? I have a lot of that right now. I've popped on some stand up comedy to take my mind off it. I'm just coming down from the after effects of it I suppose.

And this is after my GP gave me blood tests, a hearth check and an oxygen check and confirmed I didn't show signs of anything serious. I don't know why I believe my own dumb scary brain over a healthcare professional with 10+ years of experience. I'm comforted because I know healthcare is good where I am but that doesn't stop me from thinking "They missed something you're going to die!"

HopeRises 30-12-2019 03:08 PM

I just wanted to say I totally relate to this. I have not got any advice but you aren't alone. I experience this a lot too.

one_step_closer 30-12-2019 06:36 PM

The brain can be totally convincing when it comes to scary scenarios, even when there is actual evidence that things are ok. It's hard, I know. Keep fighting. It sounds like you're trying a lot to help yourself.

Sharkgirl 30-12-2019 07:24 PM

Hi me again!
At the moment I'm feeling a hot flush all over. My parents are getting ready for New Year and I don't want to disturb them with requests like cold cloths and further tests. The last doctor's visit should have been enough for me. I want to help my Mum prepare for the New Year because we've got guests coming. But I'm so lethargic. I have been staying in one place a lot the last few days but when I try and walk it off I feel woozy and all the blood rushes to my head and ears. I keep having that anxious thought in my head that I'm dying.

Early on I said that I wanted a brain scan but the doctor told me it could expose me to harmful radiation. Why am I still not satisfied? Psychologically I should feel better after being told I'm not deathly ill but a part of me wonders if I still might be.

I remember a scary panic attack I had earlier this month - my Auntie was ready to take my cousin to school. He's only little and I must have scared him to come charging in and sitting breathless on the sofa. My Mum had to stay with me and get me through it but I kept begging her to phone the hospital because I was sure this was it. In hindsight it seems overdramatic and maybe it was but in that moment you're so scared you don't know if it's fear or illness.

At the moment, my thoughts are going "I'm sick. Why am I dizzy and weak? Why do I have a headrest? Is that pain in my lower back and side just tension or appendecitis? Have I given myself heart disease? What about Adult Sudden Death syndrome?"

Vicious cycle 😢

one_step_closer 30-12-2019 08:31 PM

Have you ever tried just saying "stop" when your worries get out of hand? And keep doing that each time you have a panicky thought? Some people find that useful.

Sharkgirl 30-12-2019 09:05 PM

Yeah I usually just talk myself through it like "come on you're fine don't worry."

one_step_closer 31-12-2019 10:31 AM

Does talking yourself through it help? If not, using the "stop" method instead might be useful because it stops you from arguing with yourself as such if you're challenging your own "you are fine." I hope that makes sense, it was quite hard to word it!

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