Hello everyone. You can tell by my post history that as of late I've been suffering from a highly irrational fear of HIV from highly improbable situations (casual contacts, restaurants, dirty restrooms, worried that a health care worker reused a needle or somehow contaminated, etc).
It's been so difficult the past two months, I've never been like this, but now I get this feeling that danger is right around the corner almost 24x7. Just yesterday, I had a burger that was slightly soggy due to the combo of tomato and mayo, and I spent the whole day struggling with the fact that the cook might have let out a big snot or spit on the food while preparing it. I thoroughly inspect a public sink before washing my hands due to fear of left over bodily fluids or blood. These thoughts and the excessive vigilance are just constantly with me, I can't seem to shake them. The fact that I cam down with a bad cold a few weeks after one of these "exposures" is upping my anxiety. I wake up every morning in a panicked and anxious state, fearing the day to come.
I am familiar and educated with the way blood borne pathogens are transmitted, and know that all of the things I worry about are irrational fears, but I just can't stop thinking about it. It's slowly starting to affect my relationships and my work. I am not promiscuous (celibate for 2 years actually) and don't do drugs, and have not received a transfusion - so I really have nothing to worry about, and that's enough for most people, but I still struggle.
I have been working a PsychD to sort these problems out, but we've only just started. I asked her if I should see a psychiatrist too and if perhaps some SSRI meds would help. She encouraged me to stick it out with counseling and treatment for a bit, and we could later gauge if medication should be thrown into the mix later.
Has anyone ever gotten over a similar fear? I feel like I'm at a tipping point, it's so hard to focus at work, and get through the day. I'm just gritting my teeth every day and trying to push through but feel like it's a loosing battle.
oh my i fell the EXACT same way! its a horrible feeling and i feel for you. I feel like there is hiv all around me and that im going to get it. I watch the ground, bathrooms, people all the time and i feel like a crazy person. I recently thought id been pricked by a hiv needle and now have a constant thought about it and its making me sick. no one understand and i feel crazy! i hope you can get some relief from this fear becasue i know how horrible it is!
Yep. Sounds like the same fear to me, and it is horrible.
The funny thing is that about 10 years ago during my first year in college I was struck with the exact same obsession. Not sure what happened... it just kind of went away by itself.
I feel that the only thing that will relieve my anxiety is to take yet another test, but I must resist this compulsion, as it's feeding the OCD beast. I fortunately have a good therapist who has had experience dealing with this exact same phobia.
I hope you can get some help as well. Even though things might seem crazy now, I'm confident that one day we'll wake up from this nightmare :) .
I went through the same thing, only my demon was cancer. For several years every ache, pain, or abnormality had me convinced it was cancer before anything else. Looking at myself from the outside I knew it was irrational, and I felt anyone I tried to confide in had to believe I was completely out of my mind.
The thing you need to tell yourself is that you are having thoughts of HIV, and you need to look at things not from your thoughts but at your thoughts. You have a biased compulsion to believe that you are at high risk for HIV, these are your thoughts, they are not fact, they are not even likely.
When you have these thoughts stop and remind yourself that you are having a THOUGHT of HIV, but that doesn't make it so. Don't buy the thought. Suffering through this constant fear is like having a rotten apple salesman following you around everywhere you go trying to convince you that you need to buy these rotten apples. Wherever you go he's right there, and you have a choice to either buy the rotten apples that you know you don't need, or accept that this salesman is just there and you can choose to go on with your life and ignore him. You don't have to buy the rotten apples and you don't have to buy the thought that you have HIV.
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