I first wrote about my struggle with Health Anxiety and OCD in a blog post back HERE. I want to revisit it today for a few different reasons. First of all, I never want to imply here that my life is perfect or without struggles. I visit blogs to feel empathy and friendship, and I hope that those who read here leave finding the same. I never want anyone to read this little blog and think that I have it all together because Heaven knows, I don't! As a super special person once told me, "Everyone has their own sh**!" Also, I feel very strongly that if sharing my story here can help one person struggling with this or any similar issue, I owe it to that person and to myself to do that. Mental Health concerns should no longer be considered taboo or embarrassing. Nor should they be thought of as a joke, weakness, or character flaw.
If I struggled with Diabetes, for example, I would have no problem discussing my plan of treatment or medications. Why should my OCD and Health Anxiety be any different? My therapist gave me some wonderful advice one time. She reminded me that I have Health Anxiety. I am not Health Anxiety. She encourages me to tell people that I have this thing I'm dealing with. It is anxiety about my health. That's it. Put that way, it somehow seems less daunting and more manageable.
Although I now know I have suffered from Health Anxiety my entire life, I only recently realized and admitted that I needed help. I found that help in my family, a wonderful nurse who listened and didn't judge, then a caring doctor who prescribed medication, two close friends who were there for me, and finally, an amazing therapist who continues to help me acquire and utilize the tools I need to keep my anxiety under control. I am doing better, thank you very much. I will always have OCD and Health Anxiety and I have accepted that. It is my thing.
I am finding that now that I have acknowledged it, my Health Anxiety is improving. I no longer worry that I have a life-threatening disease. At least not as much. I am able to stop the obsession over a spot on my arm much quicker than before due to the tools I have. For example, I am learning to look at the facts. I remind myself that I have shown it to two doctors and they have told me it is nothing. I am able to stop myself from Googling symptoms and falling into the trap of self-diagnosis. And I am able to go to someone and tell them that I am worrying about something. These are all things that I can do because I finally accepted help. I finally admitted that I had something going on that was making me anxious. And that I couldn't do it alone anymore.
I have Health Anxiety. I have OCD. They are part of who I am. And I am not ashamed to say it. If you or someone you love is dealing with a Mental Health issue, I encourage you to seek help. You will realize you are not the only one. You are not alone. Talk to someone. Take medication if you need it. See a therapist. You are worth it. Trust me. I know. Thanks for visiting, my friends.