Phases of Obsessional Fears

I've always been a worrier as a child, but as I got older it became much worse and I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. One of the most distressing thing to deal with is the phases of strong obsessional fears. It seems that I'm always getting stuck on a specific fear, obsess over it for a period of time (usually a few months), the fear fades, and a new one takes it place. It's been like this for several years. Sometimes old fears resurface for a few days on top of the new current fear. I'll give you some insight on my past fears:

My first fear wasn't really a fear but more of an obsession. This was 7 years ago. I became aware of the process of blinking and would think about blinking all the time. As a result, it felt that blinking was no longer automatic and I had to "make myself blink." I ended up blinking alot more because I was trying to control it. I became very self concious as people pointed out that I was blinking strangely. I grew out of it.

Next (about a year later) was my obsession with swallowing. I became so fixed on this automatic process that it became un-automatic and I thought I "forgot" how to swallow. Eating was a struggle because I was scared to swallow and felt that I would choke. This also eventually passed but took longer than the blinking phase.

Then was a breathing phase. I started to obsess with the also automatic process of breathing and felt that if I stopped focusing on it, I would stop breathing. My chest always felt heavy, my throat tight, and I kept taking benadryl in fear it was an allergic reaction and using vick's vapo rub as I felt it helped me breathe better. This also passed.

I was okay for about a year (obsession free) until I developed a fear that something was stuck in my throat. This was definetly more severe than the last few fears. It took over my life. There was not a second in the day where I didn't think about it. I talked about it 24/7 constantly seeking reassurance from everyone. I went to several doctors, made trips to the ER, and they all told me it was in my mind. I didn't believe anyone and was CONVINCED there was something stuck in my throat. This is when I developed panic attacks. I felt like I was suffocating 24 hours a day. I was afraid to go out in fear that I would stop breathing. I stopped eating solid foods for about 2 months and lost about 10 pounds in that time. I googled my symptoms for hours a day. I was sure there was something stuck in my throat and no x ray or test could convince me otherwise. This lasted about 2-3ish months and stopped suddenly rather than gradually like my past fears.

I was then okay for a little while until I developed the fear that I was going crazy. I convinced myself that I was. It was mostly due to the fact that I experienced severe depersonalization/derealization. I spent atleast 6 hours a day online (googling and on forumd). I took MANY trips to the ER, had full blown panic attacks atleast 8-10 times a day (minimum), cried every hour each day for about a month, and couldn't leave the house. I stopped attending school, I almost stopped eating/sleeping altogether. Everyone (including psychiatrists, therapists) tried to tell me it was anxiety and that I was not going crazy. I would be reassured and believe it for about an hour and then doubting it and convinced I was losing it again. This continued for an entire year (the depersonalization/derealization was CONSTANT the whole year and I didn't get a minute of relief). I truly felt I'd hit rock bottom and thought my life was over. I gradually came out of it. It still affects me every now and then and I dont think I'm completely recovered from this one.

Next was emetephobia, my fear of being sick (or v*, I still can't even type the word as it scares me too much). I still have this one, just not as severely as I used to. This one has been going on for about a year. My symptom was constant nausea for months on end that I couldn't get relief of. I feared v* so intensely that I stopped eating for a period of time and took prescription nausea medication 3 times a day to ensure I wouldn't v*. I began obsessing over cleanliness and had repeated panic attacks if I was exposed to someone with the stomach flu. I said many times that I would rather die than v*. Throughout this, I never v* once thankfully. This fear gradually lost strength but it's still there and I still panic and refuse to eat for a week after I've been exposed to someone with the stomach flu.

All the fears I talked about above, I have addressed to my therapist and I've been getting a bit better at dealing with them. However, there is one fear that has been ongoing that I haven't addressed to anyone in fear that they'll get the wrong idea. This fear hit he hard about a month ago, and this week it has been getting worse. It's the fear being/becoming gay, known as HOCD. I get intrusive thoughts/fears about liking someone of the same sex. I was always a girly girl when I was little, playing with barbies, princesses, and doing normal "girl" things. I still am, and looove things like makeup, fashion, baking,etc... I've always had crushes on boys, but I was always very very shy and too scared to talk to them. I think one thing that contributes to this fear is the fact that I have an older brother. Therefore, I played video games as a child and still enjoy videogames. This scares me, since video games are primarily a "boy" hobby. Plus I've never had a boyfriend. I think it's because I'm severely shy, self concious, and awkward but the intrusive part of my mind tells me that it's because I don't like boys. Then I begin to panic. The thought of being with a girl grosses me out. I've always wanted to get married, have a husband and kids. These obsessive thoughts about being gay are killing me. I also feel very depressed from these thoughts. I can say with 100% confidence that I would rather die than be gay. I'm afraid to express this fear to anyone incase they don't understand and think that I am in denial or something. Sometimes I feel 100% straight and say "why did I ever question this?" while other times I start obsessing and think "but what if I am?" I also google and seek reassurance in the stories of others. Does this fear seem to follow the pattern of my past fears? I really hope it does, and that a FEAR is all that it is. I remember it started after my friend expressed to me that she had this fear 5 years ago. It got worse when another friend told me that she was gay. I felt very uncomfortable. Also, my parents have a strained relationship and I have negative relationships/trauma associated with most of the males in my life as of now. Maybe the fear stems from these things??

My last and final fear as of now is gaining weight. I've started to obsess over my weight and I have been meal planning, counting calories, eating a strict diet, ect.. And when I have the occasional binge, I feel very guilty and ashamed and hate myself. I've also obsessed over my appearance for a long time and think I'm extremely ugly and sometimes am embarassed to be in public because I hate the way I look so much, even though people (even strangers) often come up to me and tell me I'm pretty.

I have a hard time believing evidence in all my fears (like doctors and tests) and I realized that many of the fears centre around the theme of control/loss of control (such as fear of going crazy and fear of v*).

If you made it to the end of this post, congrats. Sorry it was so long. I just felt the need to get this all off my chest. What do these fears signal to you? Anxiety? OCD? Or am I going crazy? Should I address the HOCD to my therapist? Will these fears ever stop appearing? I'm only 17 and have dealt with so many debilitating fears that make it hard for me to live my life and be a "normal" teen. I'm in desperate need of advice/reassurance....

(Ps. Forgive me for the terrible writting/grammar. I kind of just rambled. Sorry if much of it doesn't make any sense.)

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  • Hi. I made it through the post! 😊

    Fears come and go and I know what you mean. But I think the real question is why do we fear them or why do we associate feeling with those fears? If you feel something odd and fixate on it you develop a fear. The best way I have come to getting over it is just to accept the feeling because I know it will pass. After it passes so does the fear.

    Have you spoken to anyone (professionally) about this? It would help I think. They understand and have very good techniques to cope.

    Here's something. I'm sitting in the barber shop right now as I'm writing this. I have a fear of certain health conditions and I feel every symptom. I know it is my fear trying to pop up but I'm going tonocccupy my mind with other things. And I eventually get over it. Baby steps but it works.

  • Thank you for your kind reply, and for reading my whole post!😊

  • Hi Tat122, I read every word of your post and was shocked to hear you are only 17. I'm glad you do have a therapist but unless you can open up to her completely, she won't be able to help you. One thing that you are hiding from her can hinge on another fear. You were open and honest to us and I don't think there would be one person in this forum who would look down on you or condemn you for feeling the way you do.

    It does sound like OCD which I'm surprised the therapist hasn't brought up. Your post makes a lot of sense, you weren't rambling, you just have so much pain going on. I really hope you decide to tell your therapist everything you think and feel. They can help you become that normal teen who can look forward to living a full life. I wish you well. x

  • Thank you for taking the time to read my post, I really appreciate it. I know it's important to be honest with my therapist and you may have given me the little push needed to do that. Thank you :)

  • I am almost 60 and I have been like you most of my life though like it was suggested before you area classic case of OCD and gad and as well, I believe it is bringing on depression. I am surprised you are not on any kind of medication. I can tell you one thing, as long as you worry about a disease or a social issue, you won't die from it. What is the issue is addressing the anxiety and that it does not eat away enjoying your life on a daily basis. You need to know that there are ways to help you deal with your minute per second racing thoughts, (that's what it is). I know! I have them.

    1- there are excellent working book to work on your OCD behavior. You will see in it that they mention some of your specific thought and fears.

    2- you can also address with your doctor to participate in an MBSR program. They are run all over the world and were created by John Kabat Zinn.

    3- you can also try CBT technique though I can tell you, most psychologist or psychiatrists will tell you that in your case, you will need to start some type of medication to help you regain control on your thought process.

    4- people like you or me cannot drink any kind of alcohol, too much caffeine, need to make refine sugar the exception.

    5- people like you or me cannot be around people who are negative or toxic.

    BUT mostly : you are not alone! I so see myself reading your post and no, you won't die from this and you have better days ahead of you.

    You can learn techniques to deal with your patterns. You need to understand that nobody knows why some people like you and I are wired differently. The difference between me and someone with no anxiety is like this :

    Let say person A has a headache that last for more than 24 hours, well, person A will take more medication the next day and keep going without giving it much thought. Now you or me : same scenario : well next day : what's wrong with me? Check the Internet! Worry starts, muscles tense up, headache becomes a migraine, shoulders hurt, neck hurt, can't swallow anymore... Panic sets in, more to worry abut then the racing thoughts start.. And so on... Until the issue resolves and then the brain starts to find another source of worrying.

    Bottom line, anxious people are usually very healthy people they just don't know how to control their negative thoughts and let their mind control their body.

    I would recommend that you ask your doctor how to start a therapy for OCD, it might take over a year. You might consider an AD specifically addressing both issue of GAD and OCD or not. There is a big debate over them. You are also very young to be put in an AD but it is not for me to talk about

    But mainly, please, do understand that what you are going through is not abnormal and you need to congratulate yourself for having the courage to address them now and not wait like me until I was almost 50 to do something about it.

    Also, your post is very articulate and you sound like a very brave and smart young person. Best of luck to you and if you need more info about CBT therapy or OCD book, let me know though I am sure some other posts will mention that too

    Take care.

  • Thank you so much! It's reassuring to know that other people suffer from this as well. It makes me feel less alone. Thank you :)

  • I've seriously have had everyone of those obsessions. I'm currently struggling with swallowing food have been for the last month. I just wanna feel normal 😢

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