You can feel anxious about all sorts of things… your finances, relationships, climate change, exams or your health. It’s normal to notice changes in your body. For instance a sore throat may be a sign you have caught a head cold, and you need to take it easy for a day or so. A headache could be due to not drinking enough fluids, and prompt you to drink a glass of water. However, if you are someone who suffers from health anxiety, your thoughts jump immediately to the worst-case scenario… that sore throat is a certain sign of throat cancer. And the headache? Proof positive of a brain tumour.
The Mouse Wheel
No matter how unlikely the probability, and how much someone may try to point out the most likely (and reasonable) explanation for the symptom, like a mouse on a wheel, the thoughts of a person with health anxiety will inevitably loop back to the least likely, catastrophic diagnosis.
Health anxiety is exasperating for relatives and friends close to the person, frustrating for practitioners trying to help, but most of all, health anxiety is a hellish, frightening and exhausting condition for the sufferer. Because whatever the symptom, it FEELS real.
If the symptom you are feeling, has not been experienced before, do check it out with a health professional. Do your due diligence. Here are the rules. Do not check with Dr. Google first. Do not seek advice from a FaceBook group. Instead, put yourself in the hands of the relevant health expert such as GP, specialist or a physiotherapist. You need to trust their opinion. This is their expertise. If they consider further tests, examinations, or procedures are required, by all means get them done. If the result is negative, ie your fears are unfounded, then your symptom is a symptom of anxiety. You must take this on board. Repeat. Do not Google. Do not seek advice from a FaceBook group. Do not double guess your expert. It WILL end in tears. Yours.
The process of trusting that your symptom, however real it feels, is ‘only’ anxiety is difficult. But necessary. Now is the time to pull out your trusty toolkit… and get to work to break this vicious, debilitating pattern. Your tools should be well honed and practiced often. Practice makes permanent. Remember, you have a variety of tools in your toolkit including the foundations of the right diet, supplements, herbs and exercise, together with those tools specifically for the creation of new calming brain pathways which are affirmations and breath work.
Look out for Mim's course on Anxiety later in 2020