I’ve wanted to write this post for a while, but I’ve been putting it off because it’s really hard for me to write about. I’ve talked about my struggle with anxiety before now, but never actually gone into detail and addressed the main form of anxiety that I suffer with. I am a health anxiety sufferer. I’ve talked about how anxiety affects me in social situations…but to be honest I’ve avoided talking about this. Let’s rewind….I’ve always been pretty health conscious and always hated getting ill, however, back in October last year, this got SO MUCH WORSE. It started when I got an infection (in a blister on my foot…not pretty) and was prescribed antibiotics for it. I thought “Ok great I’ll be fixed in no time”…I’m always worried when taking any new medication because of side effects etc, so check them religiously…but usually after taking my first dose I realise that I’m going to be fine. However, with these antibiotics I wasn’t. I’ve never showed signs of an allergy to antibiotics so there was no reason for me not to take them…but only one hour after my first dose, I started to feel horrible. It started with tiredness and achey muscles which quickly turned into constant nausea, throwing up and losing my appetite COMPLETELY for the best part of 3 weeks (and I mean I couldn’t eat anything without gagging). I saw a doctor about my symptoms who reassured me that it was an allergy as such, as had no rash of breathing problems but that it was quite common for people to react like this. Anyway, the infection had gone and so I came off the tablets -fab! So I was feeling much happier and expected to get better immediately….but things got from bad to worse. Over the next few weeks, I started to get really panicky. I’d experienced panic attacks before so I was familiar with them…but this was a whole other ball game. I’d wake up in a state of panic that would last all day and throughout the day I’d get panic attacks. I couldn’t go to uni and missed quite a few lectures because of it. My eating hadn’t gone back to normal so I felt so weak and constantly sick. I didn’t know what was going on and thought something was seriously wrong with me. I remember having one panic attack (probably my worst to date) where I was hyperventilating so much, my arms went numb and tinkly and I genuinely thought I was dying. I thought I was having a heart attack. I actually asked my Dad to call an ambulance and I was hysterical. It was HORRIBLE. I realise now that it was health anxiety, but at the time I didn’t think I’d make it through the night. You might be thinking “Wow what a drama queen” trust me, I’ve heard all this before. But all I can say is that I sincerely hope you never have to experience it. Health anxiety is horrible. It is debilitating. It has stopped me doing so many things through fear of injury or getting ill. Back at the end of last year it completely run my life. I’d wash my hands constantly and went through so much hand sanitizer (I even washed my hands with bleach once as I was so scared of germs-this didn’t end well and my skin was awful for ages afterwards). This, thankfully, has improved…but sadly I don’t think it’ll ever go away. Only yesterday it reared its ugly head again. I was in uni and had cut my hand (it was a tiny cut, but it worries me all the same) I went straight to the loo to wash it out and then started applying Germaline (which I carry everywhere!). I was so worried about this tiny cut (because of infection) and showed my friends to see if they thought it was bad. They must have thought I was crazy and told me not to worry…but I did. I couldn’t stop checking it. I get so worried about infection (which I think stems from the bad reaction I got from antibiotics) and get so scared that I’ll have to take antibiotics again. I am so thankful that it has got better- I take 4 tablets a day to help my symptoms…3 Propranolol and 1 Citalopram, and although I’m not cured completely, they do allow me to get on with my day somewhat normally. Since being on them the number of nights I’d lie awake convincing myself I have cancer (yes I truly did this…A LOT) have decreased significantly. I can now go to uni without worrying that I’m going to get ill. I can get on trains and buses with minimum worry…they’ve helped tremendously. Anyway, I think I’m going to wrap this up as I’ve kind of wrote a lot. I guess what I’m trying to say is that health anxiety, although it’s not talked about as much as other anxiety disorders, is VERY REAL and is absolutely horrible. If you, too suffer with it, please realise you are not alone. If anyone calls you a drama queen or says that you’re overreacting, please just ignore them. We don’t choose to be this way. If I can help just one person I will be so happy. I hope that I’ve educated those of you who were unaware of this, and maybe if you see someone worrying over a seemingly small health worry, please try to bear in mind that they may be suffering from this.
Thank you for reading.