Last week was the yuckiest week, it was half term and it started off with one sick child then the next day a sick hubby, the day after that a sick son and then finally me! All week we hid away with buckets and the washing machine was on overtime. Not nice at all, but especially when you struggle with anxiety around feeling and being sick. Normally when I’m ill and I can be in the bathroom and its in the middle of the night, the last few times its happened I have been in that much of a state I have had total irrational thoughts like “Im going to throw myself out the window” I really mean it as well at the time. I want to die in that very moment but then be alive in 24 hours time when Im well. Being ill and feeling ill terrifies me. I know where it comes from and why I feel like that but that doesn’t make it any better, now I just know why I am obsessional over it. People think you need to know where the problem has come from but I don’t, the problem is there so its about facing it and just doing it.
Health anxiety comes in all shapes and forms. But one of the most common symptoms of health anxiety is “body scanning”. The person will scan their body for symptoms, it can be anything from a stiff neck or a toothache to an unpleasant tummy and a terrible headache. It can be anything in the body that you aren’t happy with and presents a threat. This scanning business I believe is wanting to find something to worry about but then not wanting to find something. If I find something, I’ll think “I knew I was right” and I will obsess over looking after myself, then the “What ifs” come into play. Body-Scanning can be done whenever and wherever you want. So you can imagine for some people it can be utter torture, life consuming and can ruin relationships.
So what do you do when your fears happen? Well, nothing. You just have to do it, go with it and be rational. The difference with health anxiety and any other anxiety, is health is out of our control. Yes you can look after yourself by eating well and keeping fit but at the end of the day if you are going to get ill then you are going to get ill. And you have to face it. But if you have a fear with spiders, dogs, certain images and anything else, you can avoid them as much as you can, within reason. But health is out of our control. But I was shocked last week, I didn’t panic once whilst we where all throwing up which is a first for me. I couldn’t, I just didn’t have time. I was washing bedding, looking after little ones and just staring into space. It was after the sickness had stopped, my mind started to work again with the “what ifs”. What if it comes back, what if the germs are still in the house and what if I have damaged my insides. It all sounds so stupid I know! but its real for me and others.
Ever heard of Exposure therapy? Its a form of cognitive therapy and its about exposing yourself to what is giving you anxiety but in very small steps. For example, if your fear is spiders, we would start really small and just put the word spider up on the wall, touch the word and talk about how you feel, then move on to a picture, hold the picture and so on. There is a lot more to it obviously and it takes a while but by exposing yourself to the fear and realising that you survived, you are ok, nobody was hurt and it starts to slightly reduce the fear and tell your brain it isn’t such a threat. By continuing to do this your anxiety will reduce every time.
So well done me for not dying!!! and well done you for surviving another week!
Don’t die this week!
Love me xxxx