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I am a 37 year old female who has a history of high anxiety as far back as I can remember, and who has been diagnosed with panic attacks since age 30.

I'm posting here because I've developed a fear of either being poisoned or drugged since age 17. This appears to have been triggered upon hearing in the news that someone had tampered with some Tylenol medication. However, I also have a strong fear of having an allergic reaction to anything I eat or drink, so that also impacts me.

** In my younger years (around 15), I developed a fear of choking - I have never choked to the point where I couldn't breathe), so I would eat certain foods (like salad and meat) and then spit it in napkins rather than swallow it. That has since gone away, EVEN THOUGH I do still have a sensation on occasion of not being able to swallow properly, which scares me a lot. I have seen a doctor for this, but nothing medical was found. Has anyone else ever felt like they had a swallowing problem like this - my toungue sometimes feel too big or too small for my mouth. I have pressure underneath my toungue that comes and goes, and feels like my tounge is swelling although I can breathe fine. Very scary to me. I would appreciate any reassurance on this swallowing sensation. I wanted to read other posts on swallowing, but I fear that it will only make me more nervous. **

Although I know I have this poisoning/tampering food phobia and that most of the foods I waste are because of my thoughts, not because there is something truly wrong with the food, my phobia is very real to me. It dictates everything as far as eating and my feelings about eating.

I am not undernourished, because there are some foods that I will eat that are in my comfort zone, meaning I can eat them brand new without too much anxiety. And I have a healthy appetitie despite this phobia.

I am highly anxious when it comes to eating/trying unopened (new) foods, drinking something new, or taking medications. This usually causes me high anxiety where I do begin to have my usual panic attack symptoms. I used to think that I was having a reaction to the foods, but I have now come to the conclusion that my reactions stem more from anxiety over just having put something in my body that I am not sure about.

I usually give myself "an hour" to wait after I've put something in my body to see if I'll be okay. So, I usually monitor myself and worry for an hour. Pretty sad.

Most times:

I will not eat anything that has been sitting out (this includes donuts in a bakery, someone else's candy, salt/condiments that are out on the restaurant tables, or leftovers froma work picnic that people out out).

I will not eat anything that I accidentally leave unattended: like if I walk away from desk at work and leave my can of pop sitting on my desk.

I will not eat anything that looks funny, like if I open a tv dinner and I find something that may not look like part of the dinner, I will toss the whole thing in the garbage.

I will not eat candy because I've heard stories about tampering so much.

I will not try new foods because I am afraid of allergic reations.

I feel very sorry for myself regarding this situation, because although I have developed coping mechanisms, I just feel bad that I have to go through everything I go through in order to make me feel more comfortable:

I have a padlock on my briefcase at work so I can put my food/drink in there during the say so if I walk away from my desk, I know someone willhave a harder time getting to my stuff. Then I lock my desk as double-security.

When I go out to eat and say I want ketchup on my french fries, I will wait to see if someone else at my table uses the ketchup bottle first, and only then will I use it.

At home, I will let my juice sit in the fridge for days until someone else at home openes it first, only then will I drink it.

I carry Benedryl around with me wherever I go for fear of an allergic reaction to foods.

Even though I have no known food allergies that have caused me to become very sick (apart from sometimes getting a few hives), I will read every label at the store before I buy something, and I stay away from things like peanuts and honey because I've heard that certain foods (like these) can make someone suddenly ill from an allergic reaction. Although I have eaten peanuts in the past with no problem. I avoid seafood for the same reasons.

No-one outside of my family knows about my phobia. It's very easy to hide it. But sometimes eating foods that I normally eat cause me anxiety anyway and that's not fun for me especially when I'm out trying to relax and enjoy myself, and all I can think about it what I just put in my body.

I will take medications (even though I am afraid to do this) if I really need to, however usually this sets of high anxiety and panic for me, and I will feel a little out of control as I wait for that hour to see if I will be alright.

When I was looking for an apartment recently (I live at home), one of my main concerns was knowing that when I would be out of my apartment, my landlord could come in with his key at any time and do stuff to my food.

I have seen therapists for my anxiety in the past, and this phobia has been discussed, but one of the suggestions was to just push ahead and eat new foods. The desire to brek free of this is there, but honestly, my phobia is stronger than that, and I don't think I can do that. I have gotten far in other areas of dealing with my panic, but this is just so deep, and so ingrained, that I don't see how I can overcome it like that. Having been in therapy, I understand how important it is to face my fears, but jumping in to eat new foods isn't baby steps to me, and I feel overwhelmed at thr thought of doing that.

Now some days are better than others, and some days I WILL grab something unopened from the kitchen and just chow down. When that happens, I feel great and "normal", although I will silently think about what I just did and maybe even worry about it for a while until I relax.

But somedays my phobic feeling is so strong that I will stand infront of the kitchen cubboards and fridge trying to find something to eat that doesn't overwhelm my anxiety. Literally, I keep walking into the kitchen and then back out again in frustration. Blah.

To look at me and to talk with me, no-one would ever know how scared and fearful I am on the inside. And I think people who know me outside of my family would be taken back to know how far my anxieties go.

I have given other people advice on their fears, etc. But I rarely reach out to get reassurance myself. Is anyone else dealing with the same kinds of phobia?

I am doing okay, and I do have the option of seeing a therapist again. I'm not feeling out of control. I just wanted to talk to other people who may be in the same boat. Not talking about this phobia means that I don't know if anyone else is talking about it. I know I can't be the only one.

I'm a smart cookie despite my anxiety and fears. I just can't seem to get over this personal hurdle. Thank you. :)

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