Anxiety Chronicles: Health Anxiety Part 1

Googling symptoms. Believing everything is the big C. I keep it low key. But inside, I am terrified daily about my health. Ever since I was a little girl, every ache and pain had me scared. I never knew why I felt this way, and it really began to get worse and impact my life as I got older.

I remember feeling like I was going to die every time something felt off. I was and have always been very in tune with my body. But even though I knew it was noting serious, my anxiety spun out of control. I chalked it up to having anxiety, but I didn’t connect the fact that anxiety had a physical component to it.

After reading more and more about Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and physical symptoms, it made more sense. However, now I didn’t know if it was a product of anxiety or a separate physical symptom. So, for a while, I blamed anxiety for each physical and health issue, and it oddly gave me comfort. If I thought everything was due to my anxiety, then I could never get really sick. I stuck with this mindset even though it was toxic. And even worse, most of my doctors seemed to blame my anxiety for my physical symptoms as well. On one hand it made me feel validated. But I rationally knew that it was invalidating my symptoms. It was confusing, and I began to not go to check ups and yearly appointments. I continued to chalk it up to anxiety and continued on. But I still continued feeling like everything was a death sentence. I hated this feeling, and I knew it was time to face my fears and get my health in order. This was not easy and still isn’t, but when I would make and keep appointments for my health, I would feel empowered and less anxious. Now it was difficult to get to these appointments and not find an excuse to cancel. But once I did, it felt really good. I found myself going some time really focused on my health, and then falling back into my old habits. This is where consistency came in.

My focus had to be on my health. The irony was that the more I focused on it, the more I faced my fears, and slowly, decreased my health anxiety. Each time I showed up even scared, I taught myself that I can handle things. This was a far cry from when I wouldn’t show up. I would scream, cry, and make excuses. My inner child and her lack of emotional irregularity was screaming aloud. But I quieted her and her made her feel in control and empowered. It felt good, and I wanted to feel more of this.

Lucky for me, I had good outcomes. This always helps health anxiety. But what if you get bad news? What if you are actually really ill?  It happens to all of us at one point, and some more than others. Now, this is the true test. And it happened to me recently.

I had been to my doctor and to my gynecologist lately, and I was very proud of myself to be honest. I knew I had to get some blood drawn and decide about the vaccine (that will be discussed in the next part), but for the most part, I was doing well. And then came the mammogram.

It was my first mammogram, and I was scared. My mom had breast cancer, and I felt more nervous than usual. I went to my mammogram, and although it was uncomfortable, but I got through it. I felt a relief. The tech told me that I would be hearing back in about 10 days. I told her great, changed, and couldn’t wait to put on deodorant!

5 days later, I received a message in my MyChart. It had indicated that my mammogram came back abnormal. Within minutes of this notification, I received my initial results indicating that 2 masses on my left breast and one possible mass on my right breast, I was in shock. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. None of my coping skills were working. I thought it was a mistake, but it wasn’t. The rest was a blur as they told me to come in the next day for 3 hours of testing. Part 2..


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