I have had issues with anxiety, particularily health anxiety/ hypochondria for most of my life, officially diagnosed in 2008 while in University. My worst fear is not having control over my body. I used to fear falling asleep, and would stay up all night being of afraid of closing my eyes, to me dying and sleep where the same thing. I've come a long way since then of course, but general anesthetics and surgery are my ultimate worst fear. How do I consent to let someone put me asleep, unconscious to whats happening, let them control my breathing, my life, cut me open and not know if I'll wake up with all my organs (they may need to remove my ovary/tubes, I'm 25 yo, no children) or with a scar across my abdomen?
The surgery is inevitable. How in the world do I go through with it? How do I deal with it? I wish there was someway of doing exposure therapy, but aside from getting really drunk and passing out I don't see how...
I feel your pain. I'm the same way. I keep telling everyone that the only way they'll be able to put me under is if I'm brought in by ambulance because I'm already unconscious.
The good news is, that they have medications to help you calm down.
They can put you on something a week or so before surgery and then just ahead of time they give you some potent stuff that makes you almost fall asleep. They also have "magic masks" that they can put over your face...you take a deep breath in...and voila! You're out of it. No anxiety that way.
More good news...most "invasive" surgeries no longer require a big opening...which means that the scar may only be as big as the head of a pin.
There are ways you can go about preparing "mentally"...you can think to yourself that: " I need this surgery...if I don't have it, something very bad could happen". " These doctors are VERY good...they will NOT let anything happen to me, nor will they leave me with big scars."
"Technology has come a long way, nothing bad will happen."
However, your best bet is to find a psychiatrist that can help you to prepare, and take any medications that they suggest to help you through this.
Ask your doctor for a referral, or call mental health in your area, to find a good psychiatrist to help guide you.
As far as exposure therapy goes...perhaps you could convince your local vet to let you watch him/her do one on a dog or something. Explain to him what your problem is, and tell him that it would help you immensely.
Maybe you could get someone at mental health to accompany you, or to call a vet for you.
I would have to agree that if you can, why not go get counseling to help you confront this fear? In my experience with health anxiety, it can be both scary and confusing letting go of the control, but as you said, it is probably necessary, just like sleeping. I had that fear for awhile, but I realized that I really did not have a choice with it. As far as surgery goes, it can cause a lot of anxiousness for people without health anxiety, so it can compound our worries when we have to go through it. In my opinion, I would try to look at the long term...you will be healthier for going through this and the doctors will definitely walk you through this before the surgery. It is scary, but you are going to get through it....keep us posted!
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