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Please help me piece this all together

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by eledarialb, Jul 16, 2015.

  1. eledarialb

    eledarialb New Member

    Hi everybody,

    I'm a 27 year old girl who has had health anxiety from a very young age due to an obsession with reading health books. My parents had to hide them. I managed to convince myself I had symptoms of many different illnesses. Basically having Google at my disposal has been the worst thing ever for my health anxiety and every day is a battle not to symptom check.

    I have had a myriad of symptoms, aches and pains and oddities and panic attacks due to overreacting to all of the above. Individually, none of them are consistent, and they never occur at the same time. One stops and the next one starts. It's never two different pains occurring at once. This cycle makes it very hard to even talk about because it's exhausting. Basically here's my day:

    Wake up
    Ask "What hurts or feels weird?"
    Find something from a selection of:

    -Right Ear pressure and a pain like you would get in cold wind (no infection, no actual ear problems)

    -Tight pressure above ear or behind ear

    -Dull lower jaw ache

    -A sensation that my right cheek is numb (but no feeling lost)

    -Pressure in right temple (this is most annoying because it just feels like someone's thumb is pushing my temple)

    - lightheadedness usually accompanied by tiredness

    - a tight feeling in the top center of my rib cage that makes me want to burp to relieve it or cough (but the cough isn't productive- no mucous)

    - tight feelings on my scalp like a muscle is being pressed down (during a panic attack it feels like this spot is going to explode)

    - cheek pain that when focused on feels like that will explode as well. It feels like someone has their Palm firmly pressed on my cheek.

    Just typing that makes me feel like a basket case. But I feel all these things and it has stopped me from living my life. I am afraid to be on my own. Like I said none of it occurs together. The doctor says it's stress/anxiety and my blood was fine
    but will give me a reassurance MRI. $300 is a lot of money for reassurance and I am not sure I won't develop some other obsession once the head is clear. I spent months thinking I had asthma because I obsessed about my breathing, and it went away when I had the appropriate tests, then I switched to my head.

    The pain/sensations are vague, so hard to put into words and hardly a pain at all, but I'm scared of these symptoms. I obsess about them and I'm housebound more than ever because I can deal with the symptoms in my house but panic when I have them outside. I make plans to go out and then I start thinking "what feels weird right now in my body?" And then I won't go in fear I will panic.

    Up until a few nights ago I was waking up for 6 straight months an hour after I had fallen asleep with one of these symptoms and a panic attack. A different symptom every night.

    The doctor says its psychosomatic for the simple reason the aches pains and sensations can't be defined, they aren't consistent, and they don't connect to each other. I obsess about tumours, aneurysms, strokes, seizure, dropping dead. Dr said tumour pain, for example, is constant and worsening.

    To give an example of this symptom switching and how quickly it happens, I could be at lunch with a friend and the temple pain starts, then I tell myself "it's ok the pain/awful sensation will move somewhere else soon" and sure enough, my ear will start to hurt. Then some tight spot on my head will start. Then that will the stop and the original temple pain might come back again.

    Is this text book TMS? I am grateful for any reply - even if it's just to say you too have changing symptoms all day. Thank you for reading and for your help!!
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
    Reza2kn likes this.
  2. hecate105

    hecate105 Beloved Grand Eagle

    It probably is TMS but also a form of hypochondria. But all brought on by emotional stress and anxiety. So following the 'structured educational programme' on the main tmswiki website will probably be good for you.
    The fact that this all started when you were a child is quite telling. Was there some situation that you were worried/stressed about that you could not control or understand? It may be something quite simple or benign, but if as a child it felt scary/stressful to you it may of triggered your obsessing about symptoms. Perhaps someone died, a grandparent, a pet, or you heard about someone dying or being ill, or even something unconnected with health, like moving school or home.
    I would recommend that you read the book by John Sarno 'The Divided Mind' it will give you information to understand how you think and feel.
    For a start - try and understand that the symptoms are not the problem - it is how you 'stress' and worry about the symptoms that is really harming and limiting your life. Be kind to yourself. Perhaps try to set aside just ten minutes a day when you ignore any symptom or related thought. Use mindfulness or meditation techniques to help you. They are available online or in books.
    You deserve to be happy and not worrying all the time.
    When you get an urge to check a symptom on google - google a mindfulness page or a guided meditation instead and force yourself to do that first. Gradually you can make time in the day for more happiness and less stress.
    please don't waste your best years like i did!
    As they say - today is the first day of the rest of your life!
    Reza2kn and eledarialb like this.
  3. mdh157

    mdh157 Well known member

    Excellent advice 105.......eledarialb, there are a few things you need to understand :

    1, google is not your friend - you will never get the answer to your problems on it - NEVER
    2, the fact that things keep moving around or it's one thing or another is interesting, lends credence to the possibility of TMS
    3, with all you have going on in your mind it may be prudent to starting seeing someone abt CBT therapy
    eledarialb and hecate105 like this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, eledarialb. I know all about stressing from reading health books or looking for help from Dr. Google.
    I was under a lot of stress some years ago and my roommate kept suggesting causes/reasons.
    That all led me to an anxiety attack. I wish I had known about Dr. Sarno and TMS back then,
    but am so grateful I learned two years ago. It has changed my life, to realize my anxiety was not
    from anything structural but from emotional stress.

    I urge you to begin the Structured Educational Program, free in the subforum of this web site.
    It is a wonderful way to learn about repressed emotions and heal from TMS.
    Read the replies there today from Kevin that are truly inspirational.
    eledarialb likes this.
  5. eledarialb

    eledarialb New Member

    Wow, thanks everyone this goes a long way towards helping me calm down, thank you for all your time and input.

    Hectate: I definitely have hypochondria. I have no idea what triggered it from childhood - can these things just be hereditary? my dads mother became a recluse and once dumped a man because he had a mole on his face and she thought it could become cancerous one day! It was like she was projecting her health anxiety onto others. And my mother is a catastrophic thinker/ chronic worrier.

    I've spent pretty much my whole life caught in a cycle of obsessive thinking and feel it could maybe also be a form of OCD.

    Early childhood-high school:
    Obsessed with my health. Would read about a symptom of some illness and believe I had it. I used to be an avid reader of the babysitters club series and one of the characters had diabetes and I always thought it would be a nightmare to have it. So I looked it up in the health book (which was 4000000 pages long!) and saw "excessive thirst, irritation, bed wetting" and talked myself into all three. I can still remember one sentence that haunted me "a person can become weaker and weaker until they collapse into coma and die."

    I had a traumatic household. My father had a heroin addiction and my parents were always fighting. I don't know whether it was stress or attention seeking but my mother was always taking me to the doctor for bladder infections that doctors couldn't find a reason for. He finally asked my mum privately if someone was molesting me. That wasn't the case. Dr put it down to attention seeking and emotional distress. It was hard having that at school because I was always asking the teacher to be excused to go to the bathroom and she started to refuse and would yell at me at her desk and bring attention to me.

    From 13 years old - 18 years old
    The health obsession let up but I developed body dysmorphic disorder and convinced myself parts of my body couldn't be seen in public because they were abnormal. that plagued me all through high school. No aches/pain obsession.

    Once I got over that, health and anxiety was the obsession and panic disorder started.

    The point is I've always had obsessive thinking and what the psychologist called replacing one anxiety with another. I've had psychology and their solution is my mind is bored but I find it hard to ignore the symptoms and get on with life. The thought of just driving 40 minutes away on my own to a shopping mall and actually walking around in there shopping is anxiety-inducing. Because I know one of these symptoms will pop up and CAUSE a panic attack- I emphasise cause because they're not panic attack symptoms, they provoke panic and feel like medical emergencies. Then it's a mad dash back to the car and panic driving home.

    I took your advice about not thinking about symptoms for 10 minutes- that truly did help. So has not looking for symptoms. I think I've developed unrealistic expectations about "feeling normal" and can't reason that not every bodily sensation needs my attention or a doctors visit.

    Thanks again :)

    What causes the switching symptoms and the fact none of them co exist? I have sent myself crazy contemplating this. At the same time I'm grateful it's all only one at a time!

    Walt: thanks for pointing me in the right direction :) The repressed emotions thing is interesting to me... When all this began a male friend of mine that I missed an opportunity to confess feelings for, (I learned he had them for me but got mixed messages from me & decided to just move on so he was either too heartbroken to care anymore or didn't really love me that much) met a girl and was married 6 months later. Some part of me maybe hasn't let go of "what if I had told him?"

    One night before he got married I wrote him an email I never sent and during this my temple was nearly bursting from pressure which makes me think it was a manifestation of something emotional..

    I've accepted it and we don't see each other anymore because I chose to move to a different part of town in order to not be around him and his wife, so how does one deal with suppressed emotions if there's nothing more I can do? I can't exactly tell him anything now. Can you even get closure/peace and stop masking emotional pain with physical without involving the other person?

    The solution is go out and meet people but I am becoming housebound from the anxiety of the symptoms.
    Reza2kn likes this.
  6. mdh157

    mdh157 Well known member

    eledarialb, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Sarno's Mindbody Prescription and Steve O's book..........read and re-read them. Sounds like your body is pushing your emotional worries out in the physical symptoms. TMS is usually a moving pain. This 'only in one place at a time' is textbook TMS, I think.

    My mother told me back abt 40 yrs ago she had a big book of medical conditions and she kept reading it and thinking every pain she had was cancer. After several visits to the doc and nothing found do you know what his advise was? He told her to throw the book out! No kidding! Do yourself a favor and stop looking for stuff online or anywhere else, all you'll do is find things to worry about. It is obvious you have some psychological stuff you need to work out. Trust me, I have anxiety issues as well and the first step toward solving them is to stop feeding them.

    My anxiety is high today, I went for a ride in a old car i'd like to buy but during the ride I was wondering what good it would to do buy one if I was going to be incapable of driving it. It just never ends, all I need is for 1-2 of these symptoms to disappear and they won't, thus it continues to feed my catastrophic thinking. Fortunately i only do this with regard to my health but it's enough to affect my quality of life.

    TMS experts, would love to hear you guys weigh in here!
  7. eledarialb

    eledarialb New Member

    I relate mdh to the anxious thoughts you have. I have tried to get a grip on it by challenging that thought, so when you think "I can't buy this car cause I'm incapable of driving it anyway" think of the alternative "why can't I? I'm perfectly fine" and bring yourself back to the moment. That is what relieve my panic when I get in my car and start driving somewhere and that rotten anxious mind starts spouting off "you Can't do this.. Your temple hurts, your face is going numb, your ear aches, you're going to faint, blah blah" they're all future worries of something that isn't/empty threats. Then I start observing my surroundings- what can I hear? How does the car seat feel against my body? What can I smell, etc. that's something i learned in therapy, about bringing ourselves back to the moment.

    It doesn't always work for me otherwise I would have no anxiety! But it has helped a lot in the moment.

    As for the TMS, this migrating pain is exhausting. Correction: it's not the pain, it's my continual awareness and analysis of it which is exhausting.

    Q. Is the pain only in one place because the brain can only fixate on the one feeling? It's like I feel one thing, panic, then distract myself, and then something else starts and I forget about the first thing!

    Two weeks ago I started keeping a diary of my symptoms and what feelings/thoughts could be contributing to them.

    For instance, one thing that makes me anxious is saying no. I have a friend who expects me to be at church every Saturday night and makes me feel guilty if i can't go. She thinks I should be fighting the symptoms/panic when, to me, it's simply a freezing cold Saturday night, I don't feel like socialising or driving and I don't like to feel like I HAVE to go. It's not always about fighting anxiety. Sometimes I simply can't be bothered and I keep mistaking that feeling for panic/anxiety. And sometimes I don't feel like fighting, I simply want to stay in.

    So all day I've been obsessing about my physical discomfort. Some sensation manifests when I start thinking about having to call/text her and say no. I'm assuming the thoughts/pressure is making me feel physically uncomfortable.

    Last week before I had to leave, i had a scary episode where it felt like my ear would explode from pressure. I have no idea if TMS or anxiety is behind it but the doctor says it's not medical. I ended up putting this ear panic before worrying about my friend and didn't show up at church that night. Prior to the ear pressure I was stressing about having to drive there, etc. it's almost like my physical symptoms is forcing me to do what I want instead of appeasing others. Is that possible with TMS?

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