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HIV Anxiety - Help Nursegirl
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HIV Anxiety - Help Nursegirl

Hi,

Nursegirl, I know you have experience with this and that is why I am asking you. I also do not want to restrict others from offering suggestions too. Nursegirl, I do not know what to do. As you can see from http://www.medhelp.org/posts/HIV-Prevention/In-Need-of-Help/show/1855102 with a response from Dr. Hook included in that, I have just not been able to shake my fear and get over this. The symptoms still persist and I have had help from everyone but my fear from my symptoms are making me worse. I have suffered from anxiety for some time now and I understand that my lingering symptoms could definitely be that of anxiety, right? What can I do to get over this (other than keep it in my pants until I'm with my wife - which I will do from now on)?
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Anyone like to offer suggestions?
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3147776_tn?1349200103
I don't have the kind of experience that nursegirl has, but I will offer a few thoughts -
First, congratulations on recognizing that your issue is anxiety rather than any real risk.  That seems like a positive step.
Second, if we knew the answer to stopping HIV anxiety, we could prevent almost all of the repetitive, anxiety-driven questions in the HIV forum.  I certainly don't have THE answer.

If you're spending a lot of time on the internet looking up info about HIV and HIV risk, then stopping that activity will surely help you.  Since you did not have a risk, you are only feeding your anxiety if this is something you're doing.

It also sounds like (in my non-professional opinion) that a lot of your anxiety is driven by feelings of guilt over the incident.  If it is an option for you, professional counseling can help.
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Thank you, Kirstie,

I do appreciate your answer and your help. I truly am very sorry for what I did and symptoms that I have been experiencing (quite compelling) have been adding fuel to the fire. About looking on the Internet, funny thing is that I have been spending a lot of time on this forum and others reading threads that people have written. All forums with the exception of one has been absolutely consistent in answers to situations similar to the one in which I placed myself. It just seems as though with the combination of compelling symptoms (which continue to some degree) and guilt, I feel as though I'm going off the deep end, literally. While I try to mask the mood that I have caused myself due to fear, it isn't working. I've had numerous people ask me what is wrong...that I don't seem myself. I'm in a very bad place right now and I can't seem to find my way out.
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480448_tn?1403547723
Hello there.  Sorry for not replying sooner....had to get the XMas decorations up!

I'm sure you've read through our HIV Prevention forum a good bit.  I'd say probably close to 80-90% of the questions we get in the forum are fueled soley by anxiety.  Very rarely do people have an ACTUAL HIV risk.  WHY?  Because there's only TWO ways an adult can even be exposed, and that is through unprotected vaginal or anal sex...or by sharing HIV drugs.  That's IT!

That doesn't keep people from relating every sensation, continuing to post on the forum...more and more convinced every day that they are infected.  Even the people we tell over and over they didn't have a risk to begin with.

The clear reason HIV anxiety is so common is because the general population who aren't educated about HIV (or who have had the standard fear-based education so common is schools) have VERY overinflated views about the ease of transmission, and what constitutes a risk.  They will also search the internet like mad...until their anxiety is through the roof.

Kirstie has some great suggestions for you...I agree that most likely, a lot of your anxiety is fueled by guilt.  That's another common aspect of HIV anxiety.  Guilt over an indiscretion.  

The bottom line is...regardless of what the trigger is for the anxiety...anxiety is anxiety, and if it's out of control and consuming your life, you must seek professional help to address it.  It doesn't matter if your anxiety is related to a real life stress, whether you are new to panic attacks, or whether you have social anxiety...or like in your case, anxiety over HIV...anxiety left untreated sometimes only gets worse.

Reach out to your doc, ask for a referral to a psychiatrist, who can get the ball rolling.  You MUST stop searching the internet.  There is a lot of inaccurate and scary info out there..not to mention, pretty much any terms you put in a google search is going to yield some scary results, whether it be HIV, or meningitis, or a stroke.  You see?  So, you MUST have self control if you want to start moving past this.  If you're going to spend time online, start learning about anxiety, and different things you can do to cope with it.  Redirect your energy to anxiety, rather than HIV.  With HIV, you're just needlessly chasing your tail.

Anxiety is manageable, with time, patience, and some help.  You have to help yourself too, though.  VERY important!

Good luck, keep us updated!
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Thank you so much for replying. Not a problem on any delay...Kirstie helped tremendously too. I appreciate your comments. I am going to see my doctor. I am on an anti-anxiety medication (Wellbutrin) and have been on it for a long time. I do not think it is as effective as I need it to be any longer. I cannot thank you all enough for taking your time to help not just me but everyone else who writes in paralyzed by fear. That goes to all those in the HIV forum too and the doctors there.

I know I'm going to get past this. I just have to try harder now. Ladies, your comments have been wonderful and I appreciate your help. Thank you.
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480448_tn?1403547723
Glad we could help.  That positive attitude will go far in tackling the anxiety!  Good for you!
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Kirstie and Nursegirl,

Thank you for your help. I have been doing much better with my anxiety of this indiscretion. I did get a jolt this past weekend. My doctor diagnosed me with low testosterone. Of course, I go to the Internet to gain some more information on the condition and begin seeing that HIV infection can be a cause of low testosterone. I've been trying to get a handle on my concern again and I feel as though I'm in better control this time but still a little shaken. I've also read that depression can cause testosterone to drop as well and I have been trying to attribute my drop to anxiety. Do either of you have some insight into this? I have a lot of confidence in you both and appreciate you being so nice to me.
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480448_tn?1403547723
Keep working on the anxiety...you have a way to go, obviously.

Pretty much ANYTHING you search on the web is going to circle back to HIV in some way...has nothing to do with YOU.You have no worries about HIV.  

When your doc diagnosed you with low testosterone, I'm assuming he did some testing?  Don't go backwards and reignite your HIV fears after oine google search.  Remember, fear is not FACT...say it over and over to yourself.
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Yes ma'am. I do have a ways to go. Yes, she did do testing. Actually, she took blood samples to do testing for testosterone, PSA, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid, blood count, and is now testing for diabetes. Thyroid, blood count, and PSA all came back normal. I had low vitamin D and calcium. She also said my testosterone was "extremely low." I don't know what in all the testing entails.

You're right...I actually was relieved in some sad way that I may have the answer to why I have been feeling so blue. Then, I wanted to educate myself better on the condition and searched for information when I ran into that. I will continue to work on this. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you for your help.
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Hi ladies,

Thank you for all of your help. I do feel as though I am getting better with this. As I was thinking the other day, something sort of jumped out at me. My blood counts all came back normal. Trying to make myself think logically about this, I thought that had I contracted HIV, my blood counts would not be normal. I still have a way to go but I am feeling much better about this now.

I'm a little nervous about some symptoms I am having. Trying not to allow myself to go down the road of "what if this is some other deadly disease?" My continual gastric sounds, achy and weak legs, and occasional numbness in my left foot all make me nervous. I'm sure these are symptoms of anxiety but it is amazing how the mind still dismisses logical causes.

I feel like I've done myself a lot of mental damage by my actions that have led me to irrational anxieties. I don't know...just feel very silly for my worries but at the same time can't stop them. No one knows I'm going through this and I'm afraid to seek out psychiatric or therapeutic help because I don't want the obligatory "what's wrong" questions. Yes, I've even managed to keep this fairly well hidden from my wife even though I have been getting statements like "you don't seem the same," "you don't look well," etc.

Sorry for the post...it just helps to express this.
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Did you have an HIV test negative but can't accept it, or have you not had any test? I am not recommending one, just asking.
All those symptoms you listed in your last post are really just your anxious mind making you over-analyze every body movement you make to the point that if something doesn't feel right you think it is a deadly signal. Achy legs and weak legs are not HIV signals and although I don't know you I wonder if they really did get weak or you just imagined it. Same with numbness and gastric sounds. Here is a good example of a guy who thought he had 3 diseases but now realizes he has nothing.
http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Anxiety/2-month-hiv--std-anxiety/show/1873534?personal_page_id=890501
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Hi birdie,

Thank you for your comments. Yes, I am moving past the fear of HIV pretty well. I've realized that I had a blood count done in my blood testing for testosterone and everything came back normal. I believe that if I had HIV, my blood counts would certainly not be normal. See...I'm trying to think more logically! :-)

To answer your question, no, I have not been for testing. I am deathly afraid I will have a false positive and then I would be an absolute train wreck. I have also been trying to fight this. I feel as though if I go and test, I would be giving in to my anxiety and that at the levels of anxiety for which I have been experiencing, a test would probably not allay my fears. Knowing me, I would probably question the results and end up being one of those who goes for expensive HIV tests every other day.

I've just turned into a worry wart. I didn't used to be this way. I feel as though I've caused myself a lot of mental problems and now I'm being a hypochodriac. See, I know all of this but at the same time, I can't stop my mind from thinking I have a deadly disease of some sort. Gosh...I am Bob from the movie "What About Bob?" I know I would benefit from counseling but I'm afraid that if I searched it out, that would spark questions and I just don't want to deal with questions. So, I'm trying to manage it on my own. It is agonizing at times because I worry so much.

Prior to my incident where I became sick 5 days later (apparently with the flu ro a bad sinus infection), I was walking a mile everyday. I stopped it when I got sick. Later, I began stair climbing exercises. Since then, I've stopped. I'm trying to attribute the leg aches to lactic acid build up from being too sedentary. I also realize that anxiety can cause leg aches. Low testosterone probably does too.

I know this forum is not the equivalent of a psychiatrist's couch and I'll not turn it into one for my benefit but it does help to hear from such wonderful people like yourself and Nursegirl and Kirstie. It is truly a help.
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I looked up your link post. This is the crux of the matter in your words, "Guys, I know you're going to tell me that I had no risk and that the virus cannot maintain infectiousness outside the human host and cannot reproduce outside the human host. I understand and appreciate that"

Read this book or at least the online free portion if you still can't accept that a doctor knows how to diagnose and you don't. Your body is comprised of 10 trillion cells but is host to 100 trillion bacterial cells so REAL LIVE bacteria is everywhere in your body. You are worrying about every speck of HIV bacteria out in the world (that isn't even in your body) being on an attack mission for your body, which is focusing on the wrong probabilities. Your body has lived all these years full of bacteria and it hasn't been consumed with disease, so why focus on something that isn't even inside it?
http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0684856484/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=485327511&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0684852802&pf_rd_m=A3DWYIK6Y9EEQB&pf_rd_r=0DXXVYZDDQ0BQE02R7JB
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Sorry, I should have mentioned it is a black humour book called Hypochondriac's Guide to Life and Death, so you won't have to read boring technical details. Just lists lots of diseases people can wake up with and makes the point that there are so many low probability shots out there that you can't keep track of all of them so stop trying.
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Thank you, birdie. I will look at this. Yes, as you can tell, I can be aware of every logical thought and reason but still think illogically. There has to be an underlying cause to all of this and I'll just have to come to terms with it. I know with the HIV phobia it was guilt but as I said, I feel as though I'm coming to terms with this.
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Avatar_f_tn
You can always go for counselling, but since you already know the answer is to accept there is no disease, you have a good chance of working this out on your own.
Lots of anxiety people have pains in their chest and head to the ER, which is what I did after weeks of sweats, aches, chills etc., which in reality was my mind over-analyzing and creating a problem that didn't exist. The doc said if I had a heart problem that severe I would have been dead long before I went to ER. That was very comforting.Once they gave me the all clear I dropped the worries and the "heart disorder" disappeared. It can be that simple for you too, since you don't have a history of chronic anxiety, just guilt and an over-active imagination that can be better used on other subjects.
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I know what you mean. I've been in the ER a few times before thinking I was having a heart attack - hard breathing, chest pains, rapid heart rate, etc. The last time I was there, a wonderful male nurse pulled me into the office and got face-to-face with me, looked me in the eye and said, "you are not having a heart attack." Then he proceeded to give me logical medical reasoning why I was not having a heart attack. They gave me fluids and I got better. I've not had that kind of panic attack since then. I wish I had someone again to sit me down and look me in the eye and get through to me the same way. For some reason, he resonated with me and it has cured my fear of having a heart attack.
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You know, birdie...maybe I just need to go get an HIV test and get it over with. I do feel better that I don't have it but maybe a test would just clear my mind completely. It might even help with my new fears of having another deadly disease. Should I test or should I not give in?
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Avatar_f_tn
"I wish I had someone again to sit me down and look me in the eye and get through to me the same way. "
Why bother testing? You already know the answer and where does it end if you have to go to see a doctor every time you know you don't have something? Perhaps it will escalate and you will become obsessive compulsive about other things too, but I sure can't judge that from here and don't mean to frighten you, however facts are facts my friend and you need to accept them somehow so if a face to face is the right way then go ahead. I think I have finished here, so will move on. Good luck.
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Thank you. You've been great.
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