This battle is exhausting and after years of therapy for anxiety and panic disorders, I still feel helpless.

I had my first severe hypochondriac episode when I was a senior in high school. It was halloween and I had a headache. I've always had migraines so it should've been easy to take my medicine and then let it go. But for some reason I decided that there was something different about that headache. I decided I was having an aneurysm. The lists of symptoms on the internet seemed to confirm it. Suddenly I felt like I was minutes from death. I laid down on the bathroom floor and screamed until my mother found me. I begged her to take me to the ER. She refused so I kept screaming. It took me all night to calm down.

For days afterward I was still preoccupied by the same thoughts about death. I started checking my body multiple times a day for any abnormalities. My thoughts became so rapid and relentless and loud that I couldn't focus on anything else. Pretty soon I was staying home from school because there was a pain in my neck that wouldn't go away and the fear was incapacitating. My grades plummeted. My parents became so worried and frustrated that my relationship with them hit an all-time low and I felt completely alone. It was terrible, but the real trouble started when I discovered ALS while googling symptoms online.

ALS was everything that scared me the most. It was a degenerative disease that left the mind intact but completely destroyed the body, leaving victims trapped in a dead shell of a body with no means of expressing themselves or going about daily life. When the pain in my neck turned to stiffness, the panic started. I became completely obsessed with ALS and its symptoms. My throat started feeling like it was closing. I had trouble swallowing. All over my body, my muscles started twitching.

While I was taking an SAT test in December, my hands started feeling loose and limp. The worst panic attack of my life ensued. I screamed at my mother again to take me to the ER and this time she did. Of course, they told me I was fine, initially and after tests. They introduced me to a drug called Ativan. It was my first time ever taking psychoactive medication and and it marked the beginning of an agonizing trial-and-error process to find the right drug for me. When I tried Zoloft, the side effects were so bad that I ended up in the ER a second time, convinced that my appendix had ruptured. By this point I had stopped going to school entirely. I just laid on the couch all day, completely immobilized by despair. I didn't talk or eat or sleep. I just laid there and worried until I was exhausted. It was the worst time of my entire life.

In March, I finally decided to seek serious help. Suicidal thoughts had become a daily occurrence and were quickly becoming their own kind of obsession. On my sister's birthday, I checked myself into the adolescent psych ward of a local hospital. I only spent a week there but it affected me profoundly. I met kids there with problems that made my little problems look silly and trivial. Other girls there had been raped and impregnated by their own fathers. One boy had been living with schizophrenia his whole life and was also in foster care. I felt insanely guilty for trying to compare my problems to theirs and I just wanted to get out of there as soon as I could.

I was hospitalized in May of that year as well, this time for three straight weeks. The drug I'd been taking, Klonopin, had depleted my appetite and I'd lost a ton of weight. My heart was weak and I was so sick and yet the problems I worried about were rare things like Lymphoma and ALS. I felt like I had completely lost touch with reality. Once I got out of the hospital, an intensive outpatient program helped me make a lot of progress, but health-related fears still weighed me down much of the time.

Now it's been a year and I'm so frustrated because I feel like I'm back to where I started. I have this terrible recurring stomach pain that I'm convinced it pancreatic cancer. Once again, I feel completely hopeless and thoughts of suicide have started creeping up on me again. I'm in therapy, I'm on meds, I feel like I've been taught every coping mechanism in the book, but I still feel like I have no control over theses episodes when they happen. Now I'm almost 20 and about to go to college after taking a year off from schooling altogether and I'm going to be expected to live independently. I'm so excited for college but I'm so scared that I plummet back to that terrible limbo state where I'm in despair, alone and immobile in my bed. I can't do this anymore. I feel like I'm out of options.
flannelskin flannelskin
22-25, F
2 Responses Aug 20, 2014

Do you know whats the main problem.. ? "Knowledge" by that I mean googling stuff & feeding our sub concious with only the negative side effects so when ever we feel any of those symptoms mentioned on some random google hit our brain automatically reacts triggering an alert, this is when panic hits and all the goodies that come along with a panic attack making the situation worst, making you believe you got some serious disease. I've been dealing with this for 3 years now, am 25 its getting worst. Doctors wanted to put me on cipralex and valium but I refused to take any chemicals because of the side effects. Sometimes ignorance is a bliss. I believe that I've brought this upon myself. Constsntly reading about diseases and thier symptoms.

Don't worry, you will make it, am kinda working on my own solutiom to this testing alot of things herbal remedies and meditation.. I know that we were the ones who programmed our brains to react to these symptoms as a threat, so am pretty sure that we could undo the programming or re-adjust the way of our thinking through meditation and CBT. If you need to talk about it just hmu

I am currently struggling with hypochondria as well. I am a 24 year old woman with 2 little boys. Every day it's something new. I obsessively check symptoms that I think I'm having online and conclude with the worst possible self diagnosis. It's aweful. It's taking over my whole life.. I can't sleep very well anymore. My stomach ALWAYS hurts, bowel issues, ect. I have a crippling sense of impending doom every time I have the slightest symptom of anything. You're not alone. *hugs*