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.)