Health anxiety vs genuinely something wrong with you

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Hey everyone, first time poster but long time reader. I want to tell you a bit about how my anxiety started. I'm male, 28, engaged, from Newcastle, UK and I play drums in three bands.

Back in the beginning of March I accidentally discovered a lump on my inner thigh, right leg. And I didn't think too much of it at the time but this was to trigger a series of events which were completely out of my control. At first I didn't think to attribute these things to anxiety but it turns out it was just the beginning.

Immediately my sleep was interrupted, I would wake up at 3/4 in the morning and lie awake for hours unable to sleep even though this wasn't playing on my mind at all at this point. The day after I discovered the lump, I went to the doctor and she booked me in for a soft tissue scan. I was pleased but I had to wait 6 weeks for this. This time was unbearable for me for a number of reasons, my sleeping was so bad that I was constantly exhausted, I had the classic falling asleep and 'jumping' in my sleep which would scare me and wake me up. One day I woke up feeling not myself at all, my head was fuzzy, strange like a dizziness and nothing felt real around me. It was like I was 5 steps behind myself and everything around me seemed to be moving even though it wasn't. I had trouble waking up, a constant feeling of heaviness in my head and a pressure build up in my nose and my whole head. After some research I came to discover this was a combination of derealisation and stress, probably the most frightening thing I've ever experienced as you feel like something is extremely wrong with you and you don't know how to describe it to people.

Thus began my downward spiral into the grim world of depression and severe health anxiety. I visited doctors, went to the opticians etc as I thought there was something wrong with my eyes, I experienced grainy vision, so many floaters, ringing ears and everything was changing. It was terrifying. All my bloodwork came back normal but it was no reassurance at all to me as I needed to know what this lump was. I had several nervous breakdowns before the scan as I was reading on Google every single day about what it could be and before you know it I was diagnosing myself with lymphoma, cancer of various sorts and tapping in to how long I had to live. I would speak to my mother every single day and I would break down and be unable to stop crying because I was terrified that I was dying. I had thoroughly convinced myself and made myself so unwell.

The day of the scan came very slowly! But I went in very nervous and was told by a very funny and charming doctor that I had a cyst and it was nothing serious. I felt elated and it was amazing, I thought all my worry was for nothing and all my symptoms would lift after a couple of days. Well, they didn't. In fact things are now worse than ever. A couple of weeks after my hospital visit, I came down with a nasty stomach bug which didn't make me sick but give me terrible stomach cramps, diarrhoea and IBS while I had it. Straight away I knew that wasn't a symptom of anxiety but it cleared after a week although it left me severely dehydrated and I constantly had to drink water to feel better.

Shortly after, I decided to give Sertraline a go as I heard from various people that it worked wonders for their depression and anxiety and I thought I had nothing to lose. So I stepped into the unknown. The side affects at first were hard to live with, I experienced the worst night sweats of my life (10 x worse than any anxiety sweating) I experienced orgasm failure and unable to achieve an erection which wasn't good for my relationship. But I thought they were minor things if I could potentially get better in my head. For the first week I felt as if I was getting better everyday but I think this could have been a placebo effect as I started to slip back in the second week and feel worse.

This brings me to the present day. I sit typing this fearing that at any moment I will drop dead as I'm convinced I have a DVT in my right leg. I had experienced muscle weakness in my legs anyway during the bout of my anxiety and it would be hard to walk up the stairs but I remember one night about 6 weeks ago, I went to play a gig with my band and I sweat a lot as we wear masks, suits and wigs and I remember my calf cramping at the end of the set. It hurt but I thought nothing of it as I had lost a lot of water. Well ever since that night I have had intermittent pain in my foot and calf every single day. The majority of the time I feel no pain but then it will come out of nowhere for a couple of minutes and then disappear again sometimes for over an hour. It doesn't hurt to walk on it, if anything the pain arises more when I lie down or sit at a desk, I can function when the pain is present as I would rate it a 4/10 at it's worst but it's there and it gets no better and no worse. It's just a horrible little reminder that something is there and I believe I have something terribly wrong.

Also since then, my right knee and foot will turn purple, blue and red now and then, and my foot especially feels ice cold even when my left foot is warm. I've been to the Doctor who examined me and told me there's no sign of anything serious and thought it could be a minor calf strain and give me some stretches to do, however none of this helped at all. So I visited another doctor about the colour discolouration in my leg and foot and she has referred me to a vascular specialist so now I'm waiting on the letter for that. But I don't want to be waiting for weeks!

Last week I felt the pain in my calf and I slightly tensed it and I gave myself a Charley Horse and it was horrific, the pain was the worst I've experienced and I couldn't move my leg at all. My partner was really concerned and got me to A&E immediately. They got me in straight away and took my blood to test for d dimer, which came back negative, the Doctor told me he was 99% sure it wasn't DVT as it doesn't present the way I had described. So they diagnosed me with a torn calf muscle and gave me crutches. You'd think I'd believe two people people telling me I have a torn calf muscle but it doesn't wash with me, I don't believe it. I still believe I have a DVT despite my bloodwork coming back negative. D dimer is present in newly formed clots but this has been going on for weeks, what happens if it's been there for a while and the test hasn't picked it up?

So I've took their advice and been using crutches for nearly two weeks, I'm not drumming, walking, lifting or any other strenuous exercises that may make it worse but it's still getting to better and no worse, just always the same. I'm at my wit's end and I don't know what to do anymore. I'm obsessed with reading symptoms on Google and everything I read points to DVT but because my bloodwork came back negative, everyone's getting frustrated because I won't believe what they're telling me and now I don't know what to do.

I guess I just posted here because I need to get it off my chest and talk to people who I don't know and get some outside perspective on it. What would you guys do if it were you? Would you trust your gut or believe what you're told? I don't know know who to turn to anymore and it sucks big time.

Note: I also came off the Sertraline cold turkey and this is a week and a half later, my head feels so much better ironically.

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    you know what the best would be for you?

    get checked privately! you can get more tests done and straight away..

    that will put your mind at ease.. well should..if you can afford it..

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    • Posted

      Hey Stephanie thanks for reading and replying, sometimes I think I write too much!

      I would love nothing more than to o private but like you said it's expensive and although I don't do too badly financially, I think sometimes it helps to say no and wait for what you're given. I know my anxiety is bad but at the same time I'm fuelling it and letting it beat me by running off to have tests done.

      Either way if I'm not referred soon, I will be going to ER with 'slightly' exacerbated symptoms. It's terrible we are forced into pretending to find out what's really wrong.

      Thanks for the advice.


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  • Posted

    What happened with the cyst?? I would make more appointments so later i wouldnt have a long wait. could you be hitting yourself during drumming or sitting in an awkward position. Could the loud soundsbe affecting you. How do you feelin a quiet room.
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    • Posted

      Hey G, thanks for reading and responding. It turns out the cyst isn't causing any problems (as they know of) and so I've been told to keep an eye on it and see my DR if it gets any larger but it's safe to leave as it is for now.

      To be honest I do hurt myself when I drum on a regular basis, by technique is far from perfect but sometimes I hit myself in the foot with my pedal beaters and that hurts like a bitch when it happens especially cause they're metal with the screw sticking out the back. I have often thought maybe it's damaging blood vessels or veins in my foot so it's a possibility and I will mention it at physio. As for sound, that doesn't bother me too much but if you are on about my ears ringing, I do suffer with mild tinnitus anyway but this ear ringing is definitely anxiety related, you just know these things.

      Thanks for the points to consider.

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  • Posted

    Your really going through it...

    Private seems like the best option for ur own sanity. I think its a joke, the uk health system is a joke, I'm from Ireland had cervical cancer cells and had to wait 6 months to have them burned away!

    I hope u get the answers ur looking for but if u do go private and ur told the same as the other 2 docters then I think ul have to accept it and try to move on from this.

    I wish u all the luck in the world.

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    • Posted

      Hi Nichola

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to respond.

      I agree, the UK health system can be a joke at times but I honestly understand how thin it is stretched especially with our current government and money shouldn't be an issue but it really is. It doesn't help us anxiety-ridden folk any though does it!

      I'm sorry to hear you waited so long to have cancer cells dealt with, that is shocking. You'd think it would be classed as a medical emergency!

      Thanks again.

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  • Posted

    Make sure you have good nutrition. And loose clothes and roomy shoes.make sure theres no skin openings where infection can occur
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    • Posted

      Thanks G, I am doing my best to keep my nutrition well balanced but I have been slipping lately I won't lie. I often inflict wounds on my toes from drumming and I'm trying to alter my technique to stop that happening.
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  • Posted

    Hi JT,

    I hope that you can do what Stephanie suggests and "go private".

    The problem will be if after this episode another "illness" may follow.

    Maybe therapy might help, just as you said to be able to talk to someone who doesn't know you.

    Stopping the sertaline cold turkey wasn't such a good idea but you don't seem to be having withdrawal side effects.

    You sound like a good guy, drummer in three bands must be very exhausting but sounds great.

    I hope you get things back on track,

    take care


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    • Posted

      Hey S, thank you for the kind words and for your opinions.

      That's what everyone keeps telling me, if I get the reassurance or don't get it, something else will very likely come along or I'll be left wondering what else could be causing this.

      I have called 'Talking Matters' and I have an appointment scheduled on the 20th of this month to talk for now just on the phone. Hopefully it will help me as I'm coming to the end of the road on dealing with this my own way, which isn't effective at all!

      I agree that stopping wasn't the wisest of moves or the most sensible thing to do but luckily I'm not suffering with any withdrawal and I do feel better than I did when taking it!

      Three bands is manageable believe it or not but I've been careful in how I do it, it can be tiring but it's very rewarding, everyone else thinks I do way too much!

      Thanks again!

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  • Posted

    This is me exactly. And going to doctors doesn't help. I just find something else wrong. My body is constantly sore from me poking and prodding it looking for problems. I decided to start a healthy regime as this is helping. No amount of tablets of doctors eased my mind.
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    • Posted

      Hey Tara, thanks for commenting.

      Constant Doctor reassurance and visits are a pain and not believing them is a curse I think we all have. I try to convince myself that every visit is for something legitimate but I very nearly fell into the trap of going for every little thing when I was suffering with depersonalisation. The trick really is too accept that it's anxiety and nothing wrong with you even if it goes against everything in your head, I suffered with terrible constant derealisation for around 3 months and it was hell but it does go away slowly but surely if you can ignore it and live your life. Easier said than done.

      I can offer one peace of advice, hang out with friends, do things you enjoy and get outdoors, treat as if you're getting over a break up and you will feel much better smile

      Thanks again.

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  • Posted

    Hi JT, your story sounds very familiar fear of different illnesses though but how you sea did not believing the doctors is exactly how I feel!

    Mine started off with really bad dizziness and headaches and after months of tests and doctors telling me it was migraines, a visit to a&e and an echo on the heart with 24hr Holter it was only till I paid to have a private mri did I actually believe what they said! It's very hard for someone with health anxiety to believe what the doctors tell them, since then i have had a hole host of other things happen, found a lump in my neck and thought uh oh lymphoma because dr Google told me it was, turns out it's just a reactive node but do I believe what they say....! Nope not in the slightest luckily though I have a lovely doctor who knows what I am going through so does the tests for me for peace of mind! I'm now really stressed as found a small lump in my boob (to much info but hey) which I'm convinced it's the worst as again dr Google has told me it's cancer, I have a scan on Thursday for it but only had to wait a week for app which is fab but know I'm closer to knowing my fate!!

    I to am taking sertraline and propanranol but have been asked to wean off it as they don't feel it's helping and they want to treat my headaches!

    Have you tried therapy? It's not for everyone but some say it helps!

    Other than that I'd go back to your doctor and be blatantly honest and tell them you are scared and unless they run a better test you'll keep coming back because your convinced xx

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    • Posted

      Hi Emma

      Thanks for reading and responding.

      Don't feel bad about going to the Doctors about lumps, they're nothing to shun away from! My anxiety started with an unexplained lump and everyone I told said not to feel bad as it was a genuine health concern which was nice to hear. Most lumps turn out to be lymph nodes reacting to viral infections or cysts and I thought mine in my thigh was a lymph node but it didn't go away and that's why I was convinced it was cancer, silly me.

      I think you'd be pleasantly surprised with the statistics especially on breast lumps as the majority of them turn out to be benign. I keep my fingers crossed that yours is too.

      It's funny because when I was younger I discovered a lump under my chin which was very prominent and my mam took me to the Docs to have it looked at and they told me it was a lymph node reacting to my cold that I had at the time and it went down after a few weeks. But we aren't doctors and we aren't meant to know these things!

      I'm waiting on a call from CBT so I can be assessed and hopefully it will be worth while for me.

      Good luck with your scan, be sure to let us know how it goes!


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