It’s normal to have aches and pains in middle-age. The problem with minor aches and pains when you have a fearful and sleep deprived mind is that you start to overthink them until they turn into something terminal, like cancer.
This is health anxiety.
Since my late 30s there has always been a part of my body playing me up. This week it’s neck pain and I’m having another IBS flare up. I’m constipated and there is a niggling pain in my lower bowel region. A few months back I would have Googled my symptoms, come up with bowel cancer and scared the metaphorical crap out of myself.
This is what I now call ‘climbing aboard the crazy train’.
The crazy train is the runaway thoughts train. It’s a scary ride. Scarier than ANYTHING you have ever ridden on in any theme park.
Or ever will.
It’s fulled by your catastrophic thoughts. There is no driver. There are no passengers. There is only YOU.
These are just some of my anxiety symptoms over the past six years.
- Back pain, stiffness
- Breathing problems
- Blanching (pale face)
- Body Aches
- Body Jolts
- Body Zaps
- Body shakes
- Body Tremors
- Blurred vision/sensitivity to light
- Body Temperature (going from very hot to very cold)
- Brain zaps
- Brain fog
- Burning sensation on skin
- Buzzing in hands, arms and feet.
- Chest pain
- Chest tightness
- Craving sugar
- Crazy thoughts
- Difficulty speaking (slow speech)
- Difficulty thinking/concentrating
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry mouth
- Flu-like symptoms
- Fear of dying, of losing control and going crazy
- Feelings of unreality
- Feeling that the tongue is swollen
- Frequent urination
- Hair loss
- Heart palpitations
- Hot flashes
- Loss of appetite
- Mouth (burning tongue and clicking jaw)
- Memory loss
- Muscles (vibrating, tremors, weakness and wastage)
- Nausea (retching and vomiting)
- Neck (shoulder and neck tension and stiffness)
- Nervous stomach
- Night sweats
- Numbness in fingers, feet and arms
- Rapid/irregular heartbeat
- Pulsing sensation
- Sensitivity to foods and medication
- Shortness of breath
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Shooting and stabbing pains
- Skipped heart beats
- Soreness on scalp (like bruising)
- Tinny taste in mouth
- Weak limbs
- Weight loss
To list ALL my symptoms would obliterate my word count but you will see that my anxiety symptoms have affected me literally from my head to my feet and I have multiple symptoms at any one time. In my case, being menopausal and autistic means that there are overlaps but the anxiety makes things profoundly worse. For instance, my Tinnitus isn’t an anxiety symptom per se but it is worsened by the anxiety.
The most comprehensive list of anxiety symptoms I know of is here.
The next time you say, ‘THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NO WAY THIS SYMPTOM CAN BE DUE TO ANXIETY!’
Have another read through the list!
All these symptoms and the ones listed in the above link are symptoms of stress.
Heart symptoms are classic anxiety symptoms but you should ALWAYS get them checked out if they are new for you. I underwent tests on my heart and the doctors concluded that my ticker was doing everything that it should, it was just beating faster than it should because my body constantly thinks it’s in danger.
I have generalized anxiety with health anxiety that is now in ‘remission’ cos I got myself some therapy, innit? I’m also autistic which is where the roots of my life-long anxiety problems lie. A lot of autistic people have mental health issues. Most, I’d say. This is because it’s stressful living in a world that you don’t understand and which doesn’t understand you. I also have OCD with sporadic bouts of depression. Not forgetting the good old menopause which means I am lacking in the hormones which kept me sane (ish) for 30 years – discounting one week out of every month where I went psycho and would have willingly stabbed somebody for their Mars Bar..
Over these past six years, I have been UTTERLY convinced that I have having a heart attack or that one is imminent. Or that I am riddled with cancer or some other insidious disease. Yet, ALL the tests keep coming back clear. The horrors that I have tortured myself exist only in my imagination. Whoever said that autistic people don’t have imagination? I have a fabulous imagination. Ask my GP!
Everybody is different when it comes to anxiety. My symptoms may not be your symptoms but the one thing I have learned about anxiety is that it affects your WHOLE body. Symptoms are transient. They stick around for a few days or a few months but then they go to be replaced by something else. To the exhausted mind – new symptoms equals fear.
‘THIS time, I’m really ill.’
Yes you are, but the illness is mental not physical. Dear.
A few months ago I would have been hyperventilating in my GP’s surgery at the onset of a new symptom but I have been there, done that and the t shirt is a mangled mess. Now, I calmly remind myself to acknowledge the symptom but not to Google it. If it lasts longer than two weeks, I see my GP.
It is important that I don’t CATASTROPHISE.
Yesterday it was neck-pain to the point where I needed painkillers but instead of allowing my mind to start shitting me. CANCER? OMG AM GONNA DIE kind of thing, I thought it through logically..
Last week, I’d been decorating, as in, climbing up ladders and looking up. I was working muscles that I hadn’t used in a while. Plus, I have arthritis. When you look at it rationally it’s easy to see why my neck would be giving me gyp. Simple isn’t it? IBS symptoms? I’ve been back on the beans and onions. To the exhausted mind – ANY pain – fires up the stress response. It has to be an illness, right?
Don’t believe everything you think.
I didn’t allow my thoughts to run away with me. I took painkillers and each time the ‘what if?’ Gremlin wandered into my mind, I acknowledged it for what it was – A THOUGHT – and carried on binge watching Benidorm. Today, there is no pain and I had a decent night’s sleep because I didn’t climb aboard the crazy train.
Way to go, me.
The point of this post is to help you to understand that anxiety affects the entire body. Often there will be no explanation other than stress hormones affecting your body. I wouldn’t have thought that my scalp feeling bruised was an anxiety symptom but it is. Or a clicking jaw. The good news is that your symptoms will start to fade away as your stress levels recede. If you need the reassurance of your GP, by all means go and get your ten minutes worth.
Then ACCEPT it when they tell you it’s anxiety, especially when tests come back clear.
The crazy train will come for you.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO CLIMB ABOARD.