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Hi folks. I was not a member of HealthBoards. I was randomly looking for something else and I came across this thread. I joined so that I could post a reply. A number of those posting here are younger, some in their teens. I am not. I'm in my 50s. I spent many years struggling with the kind of issues you've described here. Sometimes I still do. My purpose in posting is really to tell you one thing: it can get better - much better. And a disclaimer first - I am not a therapist, a doctor, or a trained expert - I am a victim of this, like you all are.

First, babrap apte, in all likelihood you don't have brain tumor. That is a very long list of symptoms, only some of which would apply. It's long enough that any number of diseases could fit in there nicely, which I think you have sort of acknowledged. Unfortunately, my wife died from a brain tumor and I am very familiar with them. That isn't how they manifest. I'm not going to go into detail about how they do, because that would be like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. But believe me.

More important, to many of the posters here, I speak to you as someone who has long personal experience with this stuff. I was an anxious kid and I had a few traumas in my childhood that contributed to it. My father died a few months after I was born, my mother was an anxious person and my older brother had some problems on the autism scale. When I was 5, I was hospitalized with a kidney infection. I had just had chicken pox and I noticed that my urine was dark. I told my mother who told my pediatrician who told her to take me right in to his office. I was in the hospital later that night. My doctor told us "he could have died if he hadn't noticed that." That really set the stage for what I can only describe as a lifetime of hyper-vigilance. The message stock - constantly scan for problems before it's too late. While I had a variety of anxiety symptoms and panic attacks as an early teen, it was when I was in college that I got hit with the full force of this stuff. As a few of you have described it, I felt like I was on another planet half the time, I was so anxious. I took a taxi from college to the nearest hospital once because i was convinced I was dying. Dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitations, rashes, weakness, fatigue, nightmares, numbness, tingling, stomach problems, headaches - you name it. I think the worst thing, though, was the way my worry about these things and my general anxiety made me feel like there was a wall between me and everyone else - a glass wall that I could see through but that I couldn't break through.

So here's the good news and then the bad news and then more good news. The good news is that, in all likelihood, none of you are dying of anything based on the symptoms you describe! The bad news is that the kind of thing you are struggling with does not go away overnight, or by taking a pill. But the other piece of good news is that you don't have to kill yourself or live a life of diminished expectations or constant fear an anxiety. I am not trying to hold myself up as some kind of paragon, but I hold several advanced degrees, have a good job, got married and had kids who are not suffering from this problem!

So what is this problem? Well, it isn't just one problem and of course for each of you there are differences. But most of us are suffering from some kind of hypochondriasis (I don't want to say we're "hypochondriacs" because that has a very bad connotation) which is about being obsessive about symptoms and illness. What we are often doing is taking sensations or things that other people would ignore or write off and amplifying them immensely. They become so big that we can see hardly anything else. And when something becomes that big, you can be damned sure you won't ignore it! Your obsession with it will only grow! Sometimes the amount of worry and anxiety we invest in this stuff is so intense that we do create real physical problems (psychosomatic illnesses). And some of us may find that, because of things that happened to us when we were very young, we may not be able to express certain feelings any other way except through pain and illnesses in our body.

Doesn't sound so great does it? Well, it's not, but we are not alone. When first had this stuff there WAS no internet. There was no way to share these kind of experiences really. The sense of isolation was stronger (but, on the other hand, symptoms had to be looked up in hard copy, which is much slower, lol). So what is to be done? First and foremost, if you are not seeing a therapist, you need to be. To really address this, you need to attack it root, branch and leaf. The root is the issue or issues that drove you down this path and there is usually no simple answer to what that is. A good therapist will help you with that. Do not settle for anyone. Find someone you feel comfortable with. Some of you may say you don't have the money, you don't have insurance, you don't have anyone near by... Find a way. Your future happiness depends on it. I can't stress this enough. The branch is dealing with obsessive behavior, which is the mechanism that makes this stuff work. People have mentioned Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and that, or something like it, is a good way to go with obsessions because it teaches you ways to counteract it. It's very practical. Finally, there's the leaf - the anxiety symptoms that your dealing with now. There are medications that can take the edge off but be warned - they will not cure your problem! They make it easier to deal with. If you look to medications to just make it all go away, you will be disappointed and, moreover, you will probably end up with lots of meds and lots of side effects you don't want!

You can't solve this problem overnight, but you you can address it. And if you approach it as something that you need to attack root, branch and leaf, you will find that, despite set backs, which will happen, you will make progress and your life will become more and more rich. If you can find a good therapist who can become a real partner to you in this, and some good support structures, you will be able to deal with the set backs when they happen.

If someone had said this to me 30 or so years ago, I would have had a better time of it.

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