Featured, Mental Health, Physical Health

Health Anxiety After Illness

Until last year, I was the epitome of good physical health.

I’d never so much as spent a night in hospital and the scariest procedure I’d ever experienced was a mere filling at the dentist.

Fast forward 18 months and this simpler time just feels like a distant memory.

I’ve had spinal surgery, a cardiac ablation, suffered multiple blood clots and I’m currently under a cardiologist, gynaecologist and endocrinologist – to name a few.

I take two types of lifelong medication and should probably ask about some loyalty points reward scheme at the doctors and hospital, because I seem to spend half of my life there for one reason or another.

Until recently, I held a misconception that health anxiety was being constantly worried about catching different illnesses/dying.

While this doesn’t apply to me, I realise now that I am still suffering with heightened anxiety due to my ill health.

The difficulty is that when I did suffer with blood clots, I was reluctant to visit A & E because I thought it was just a panic attack. Had my mum not dragged me there, I wouldn’t have gone, out of fear of being a nuisance.

Once I did arrive and receive the diagnosis I was told the frightening truth that if left untreated, it could have likely been fatal.

This made me realise that you can never be too careful, but for me this is difficult.

Anxiety can often have physical effects and leave me with aches, pains, nausea and hypersensitivity to any sensations in my body. While before, I could rationalise and tell myself these feelings were ‘just anxiety’ – I can’t do that anymore, because it nearly cost me big time.

In the last two weeks I’ve attended the out of hours doctor as well as A & E with chest pains, both times to be told I’m okay (thankfully).

But how can I differentiate between physical symptoms of anxiety and more serious medical conditions, when I was seriously ill and mistook the symptoms for a panic attack?

I’m more worried about my health now than before and I worry about the same health conditions recurring, even though I’m on medication that minimises the chances. I’m overly cautious not to miss any major warning signs like I did before.

Of course, I’m relieved and thankful when I realise that everything’s okay but I feel stupid for constantly worrying about it.

There is more talk now about how mental health affects you physically, but still little about how physical health impacts you mentally.

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