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Re: I am new :)
Jul 21, 2006
Dear Binleh,
I read your story and I really feel for you because I have suffered like you are now, but the reason I wanted to respond was because I am recovered and have been a recovered hypochondriac and have been this way for 3 years. I thought perhaps I would share my story with you.

I am cutting and pasting it from a paper I wrote for my disability studies class.

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder at the age of 22, but the diagnosis should have been made earlier because I exhibited the symptoms of both disorders since I was a small child. My symptoms did not become severe I reached my early 20’s. The summer of 2002 I was working as an admissions clerk at Cedar Point, one day I noticed that my appetite was not quite normal, but wrote it off as stress and high humidity. When I came home from work on a summer night in July, I had a slight headache and decided to go to bed. I woke up an hour later and was shivering and burning up with fever. I was extremely sick to my stomach and had to rush in the bathroom where I was overcome with vomiting and diarrhea. I had had “stomach bugs” before, so I figured I would be fine in the morning. However, I had proceeded to “get sick” many times throughout the night. I realized that I was in no shape to go to work after taking my temperature and found it to be 102 degrees. I assured my boss that I had a virus and would be back the next day. My condition continued to worsen to the point to where I had to run to the restroom every half hour sometimes sooner. I could not even hold down liquid. Something didn’t feel right; this was no ordinary “flu”. I was somewhat of a hypochondriac at the time, so I asked my boyfriend to take me to the emergency room. When I arrived there, the triage nurse was quite rude to me. I was so weak and dehydrated from consistently vomiting for hours on end and could barely walk. I was so sick that I vomited all over the desk in triage and the nurse yelled at me. When the doctor saw me, he just said I had the flu and to go home. I did not appear to get any better; I was still getting sick every half hour and was growing weaker.
When I woke up the next morning I was still very ill and started having very severe stomach cramps. During one of my episodes in the restroom, I made a frightening discovery, blood. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. My temperature was now 103 degrees and my vision was starting to fade in and out. My boyfriend took me back to the emergency room, where I was treated quite badly. I was seen as a hypochondriac. I was scared because I had never felt this sick before. The physician still did not really take me seriously until he took blood and urine samples. When the results came back, it was discovered that my potassium level was dangerously low and I was immediately placed on intravenous potassium to rehydrate me. I had to return for a follow up the next day and I was informed that one of the cultures I had taken revealed that I had what is called campylobaceriosis, which is an infection you can catch from eating contaminated chicken. I was placed on potent antibiotics to combat the infection. It took me about two weeks to regain all my strength back. My mother shared my experience with her physician who told her that if I had not been taken seriously and gotten my potassium level at a normal level, I could have suffered a cardiac arrhythmia and possibly died. That experience set off a tremendous amount of anxiety in regards to my health. I constantly worried that I would become seriously ill and medical personnel would not listen to me and I would die as a result.

That summer my anxiety in regards to my health grew dramatically worse. I began to suffer from severe headaches that made me weak along with numbness and tingling sensations. I began to insist that my symptoms were the result of a brain tumor so I would go from emergency room to emergency room and despite the doctor’s reassurance, I seriously believed that I was going to die. One night, when my headache was quite severe, I began to grow seriously concerned. My boyfriend, who was sympathetic, but at the same time annoyed, agreed to take me to the emergency room in the middle of the night, where I demanded a CAT Scan at 3am. The doctor assured me I didn’t have a brain tumor, but knew that he was not going to get me to leave him alone without agreeing to the scan. While waiting for the results, I was in tears telling my boyfriend that I was going to die of brain cancer. After hearing that I did not have a tumor, I still did not quite believe the doctor.

My headaches continued to grow worse as did my neurological symptoms (i.e. numbness, tingling sensations) and this led to me attempting to find a new family doctor since my previous one had retired. The doctor that I saw was actually very nice, though he attributed my symptoms to anxiety; he was polite about it. He prescribed me Paxil. I began to take the Paxil, but experienced a lot of nausea. My doctor then tried me on Effexor, which resulted in my heart racing to over 100 beats per minute, so that was stopped as well. After those two medications did not work out, I tried Zoloft, which caused severe headaches. I stopped taking the medication and decided not to go back to my doctor because these pills he was giving me were making me feel worse no better. My brain tumor anxiety was alleviated after I visited a neurologist who ordered and MRI of my brain, which was negative. However, I still had my anxiety in terms of other illnesses I thought I had. One day I remember my boyfriend walking in my bedroom and found me sobbing with the Merck Medical Manual sprawled out on the floor with the pages turned to a section on Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Despite any reassurance, I seriously believed for a few days that I was dying of that horrible disease. My anxiety waxed and waned throughout the next few months and in January it took a turn for the worse.

In January of 2003, I began to develop obsessive thoughts about dying in my sleep. I was terrified to go to sleep and began to resort to some pretty crazy measures in order to stay awake. I would drink a lot of caffeine throughout the day, but at night my intake would dramatically increase. I would drink around a twelve pack of Coke per day in order to avoid going to sleep. I would stay awake each night until I literally passed out from exhaustion around 4 or 5am. I was surviving on 3 or 4 hours sleep each night, which made my anxiety skyrocket. The massive amount of caffeine and exhaustion was making me jittery and unstable. My boyfriend was beginning to really suspect something was wrong and one night he came into the living room to find me watching television and drinking can after can of Coke. He grabbed the can away and told me that I had to stop because I was hurting myself. I think I finally realized that I was in serious need of professional help. I made an appointment with my doctor and also scheduled an appointment at the University Counseling Center. I finally told my doctor everything I was feeling and said I really needed help and was ready for it because I just couldn’t live this way anymore. My doctor was very sympathetic and said there was one more medication he wanted to try with me. It was a newer medication called Lexapro. He also gave me a prescription for Xanax, a sedative, which, I could take to help me in a panic attack. The Lexapro and counseling together began to help me work through my anxiety and soon I was able to sleep when I needed to and also my hypochondria seemed to get better. My recovery from mental illness does not end when this story, since then I have experienced periods where my anxiety has been severe to having no anxiety at all. For me to get better, I had to admit that I had a problem and also acknowledge that I could not make myself better.

I just wanted you to understand you are NOT alone in this and please post again if you want any more info.

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