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how to "treat" yourself
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how to "treat" yourself

Hello.  I will start by saying that I do not have health insurance and I do not want to be on medication, I want to try and overcome this on my own.  Since I was about 7 or so, I have had hypochondria.  Thought I had aids, thought i had a carrot in my lung, cancer, brain tumor, heart attack (very common one), stroke, etc.  Thing is i am almost fully aware that I am making it up in my head and yet everytime i say to myself "this time its real, i am going to die."  I get so nervous sometimes that my body actually feels like it is about to shut down.  I worry my life away, about my own health, my son's, and now my unborn baby growing in me.  I am going nuts and driving everyone around me nuts too.  I convince myself that if i say that I am really sick with whatever it is that day enough, it will go away.  weird huh?  I just need some help overcoming this...it is really screwing up my life and I also think that the mind can create real problems, and if that is the case I am totally screwed.  thanks for reading all this
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As a "recovered hypochondriac," I can relate to your problem easily. Getting control over this disorder takes real work and effort on your part, but you CAN do it. It's too bad you don't have insurance as my first bit of advice would have been to go in for a really complete physical to rule out any REAL issues. Lacking that, I will trust that you are receiving pre-natal care during your current pregnancy. Talk to the doctor there about this issue and he/she should be able to recommend some options for you.
Something must have happened when you were 7 that scared you so badly, you began your journey into hypochondria. Can you take yourself back to that time and try to remember what it was. That would be a giant step in understanding how you got to this point. Normally I would recommend some therapy to help you understand the root cause, but without insurance, that is out of the question. I'm not a huge fan of "self-help" books, but there are some that actually can help people. Search the Net for "Help for hypochonriacs," and see what you can find. There are many very reputable sites out there that address this problem, so stay with sites that are linked to places like the Mayo Clinic or other well known sources. Avoid the "snake oil" pitches about "magic elixars," of which there are none.
And please stay off the damn "symptoms" sites! If you believe you have a brain tumor, you WILL eventually find a site that describes every symptom you "believe" you have, or if you don't already have that symptom, you soon will.  You said it yourself and the words speak an incredible truth........"I am almost fully aware that I'm making it up in my head......"  As with all us hypochondriacs, we are incredibly hyper-vigilant about what our bodies are doing. Every little twitch or pain turns into something horrible and our minds then run totally amok. This is the first hurdle you need to get control over.
Hypochondria can ruin your life, and I think you are realizing that. The fact you've come to us tells me you do want to change your thinking and that is the first major step in taking your life back. There are many folks on this forum dealing with hypochondria and you should be receiving a great deal of advice and ideas on how to deal with it.
I again urge you to go back in your life and try to pinpoint an event, or series of events that lead you to become overly concerned with your health. My guess is that you will find something there. Mine came about when my sister died of leukemia and my mother was so terribly freaked out that I would die too, she took me to the doctor for everything. After the doctor gave me a quick looking over, he'd send me out of the room and he'd talk with my mother. Many, many years later I realized he was no doubt telling my mother that she had to stop doing this, but what I got out of it was that I was being sent out of the room so they could discuss MY impending death. THAT is what began YEARS of hypochondria for me. When my vision blurred at school and I had almost daily headaches, I knew, without a doubt I had a brain tumor. A  very wise teacher finally sent me to the school nurse who did a quick eye exame and told me I just needed glasses. I finally told my parents and a week later I was sporting some very cool glasses! Magically, my brain tumor had vanished. Long way around telling you that while many of your "symptoms" may be very real, their causes are almost 99.9% benign. You can pull or injure a chest wall muscle without even knowing it, but it will cause you to have chest pain which is, of course, in YOUR mind, a heart attack. As a young, pregnant mother, your body is going through some incredible changes with many "odd" sensations. Add in the care of your other son, all the stress that is part and parcel of someone in your position and condition, then top it off with your hypocondria and that well earned "stress headache from hell" has now become that brain tumor you fear!
Some GGOD research, understanding this condition and your desire to end this horrid cycle will go a very long way in getting you over this hurdle. And you have us, now. And we are WONDERFUL!  
Do some home work, get pro-active in your own "recovery" and I believe that you will beat this. I did, so I know it can be done.
Write anytime you need to, we're here to help you carry this load.
Peace
Greenlydia        
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Thank you so much.  It feels so nice to know that someone understands and that I am not alone.  I will take your advice.  thank you again for taking the time to write to me.
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Don't be afraid of medication.  I actually took medication for depression while I was pregnant with my last child (mom of 3) and of all of them she's the best tempered.

I think you express just in your statements there that you know you have a problem.  There are a lot of chain stores offering medication right now at discounted rates (hit me up with an email and I might be able to help you find something locally for you) and most towns have a community mental health agency that can help you to see a psychiatrist for a great discount.  Look into that.

Don't think that you can solve this yourself, because that just isn't always the case.  I love the comparison of mental disorders to diabetes.  You wouldn't look at a diabetic and tell them, "You know, don't use insulin, you can get through this with the right outlook."  That just doesn't work.  Even thought people have their thoughts about mental illness and those of us who suffer, there are a LOT of us out there who have been there and are now leading productive lives, myself DEFINITELY included!

Bekah
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I understand all too well! I have 5 kids. And I think the worst and obsess daily-even hourly. I also am not on meds and don't have insurance. My last physical was 3 yrs ago but it wouldn't matter it if I had one every day, I'd still obsess and worry. I'm also terrified of the doctor or dentist, so I don't go anymore. Just know you are so not alone.
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Also, there are some homeopathic anxiety meds you might could try, that are supposedly safe, all natural, with no side effects. I've never got the guts to try them yet though.
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There are a lot of natural remedies for anxiety.  There's a good book called Natural Highs by Hyla Cass that will explain how to dose them; she's a psychiatrist at UCLA.  But you really should do therapy no matter what you do.  Medication should be a last resort, since it has its own problems and can always be taken down the road if other things don't work.  You might try looking for community mental health centers that cater to people without insurance.  And to tell you the truth, insurance isn't very good for mental health anyway -- the psychiatrists are mostly hacks who know little about the drugs they prescribe and spend 15 minutes with you every three months.  There are also few good therapists who work with health insurance; as soon as they can they leave the plan because insurance pays so little and has so many restrictions.  It's not a very good system out there.  That's why drugs are pushed so hard -- they're much cheaper for insurance companies than therapy, which can take a lot of visits.
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You are not alone. Significantly stressful events can spur this into action, and, while you are probably thrilled, the "unknowns" of pregnancy can tap into the stress angle. I usually manage mine with humor these days, so when my husband asks about my headache, I laugh and say "you know, the brain tumor is just fine right now, thanks" and then I have been able to verbalize what worries me and he can acknowledge without the paternalistic "yeah, you so do NOT have a brain tumor" dialogue. Empowerment can help a lot, too. Don't dwell on stuff, just journal. Journaling, getting it down, whether in an electronic format or old fashioned pen and paper can create a record of what's going on. You can then go back and read what you were thinking and relate it to what was going on at the time. Remember this: worry is a prayer for what you don't want. It's true. And it doesn't help your health at all. So believe in yourself and let go a little. You're going to be a mom and it's going to be great (and so are you!)!
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