Health Anxiety is the fear of having some incurable disease. And it’s not uncommon.
Of the patients I’ve seen with health anxiety, this fear has started with a close family member being ill, after a period of stress, or a big shock.
This is Lisa’s story. I have sought full permission to share her story her name and some details have been changed to protect her identity.
I meet Lisa for the first time. She is warm, friendly and funny and has me chortling away several times during the first consultation and each time I see her.
But it turns out she’s desperate. Desperate to feel like herself again. She tells me she is consumed by obsessive thoughts about having MS. She is plagued by strange physical sensations that started after she had a minor medical procedure.
Crawling sensations, sensations of a feather brushing over her skin, water dripping on her, butterflies in her stomach and pins and needles. These sensations are exhausting and lead her to believe she has MS. They make Lisa’s mind race every day. She has almost constant headaches and nausea and takes pain killers.
She has sought several medical opinions, had tests done and been given the all clear.
She asks me ‘Do you think I have MS ?’ more than once and is visibly distressed.
‘Do you think I will ever feel normal again ?’
‘Am I curable ?’
She is cancelling plans with friends, avoids going out and can’t face busy places.
Lisa's world is getting smaller.
We start to do some EFT on the sensations that cause her the most anxiety. EFT involves tapping on the meridian points in different parts of the body gently. We do some work around her beliefs about her symptoms. Some times I tap on the client and some people prefer to tap on themselves whilst I talk them through it. It’s comparable to emotional acupuncture without the needles and is easily learnt by the client. The client can then support the work we do at home in between our sessions.
During our tapping I sense Lisa’s anxiety lessen and I prescribe a homeopathic remedy called Arsenicum. Three tablets to be taken over 2 days. Arsenicum suits busy, driven people who worry about themselves and others until they are exhausted.
I see Lisa 4 weeks later.
She is less anxious but still experiencing the same symptoms. Not as often and she has had some good days too.
We do some more EFT on the sensations that are causing Lisa the most distress. Exploring these sensations it transpires that Lisa feels overwhelming responsibility for everyone she loves. If they are not OK she feels guilty. I give her 2 remedies that match those feelings. These remedies increase ones self awareness. It’s a challenging month for Lisa as she becomes aware of changes she needs to make to improve her well being.
As the sensations started after a medical procedure the next time I see Lisa we do EFT on the memory of this traumatic experience. The idea being to draw out the emotions of this memory and turn them off again and I give Lisa a homeopathic remedy for shock.
When I see Lisa again she explains she is having more good days. Going out more and coming home when she is ready instead of being chased home by anxiety. No longer crippled by anxiety, she has booked a holiday and is excited about it.
She tells me she now believes her hormones have a big impact on her emotional state as she mainly experiences these physical sensations at particular times in her menstrual cycle. Either when she is ovulating or the week before her period. At this point I feel confident we are getting closer to a full recovery from anxiety and I prescribe a remedy that is sometimes described as homeopathic oestrogen. It balances our hormones and reduces intense symptoms experienced during our menstrual cycle. Particularly during ovulation.
Today I saw Lisa and she tells me she hasn’t thought about her anxiety and symptoms for 2 weeks and believes she is getting better. She no longer experiences daily nausea, only a headache the day before her period, and hardly any strange sensations that send her mind racing. Such is the improvement, she is considering training to be an EFT practitioner. She’ll be great and I wish her every success. We say good bye and as I close the door I do a little happy dance because I believe her world is about to get bigger again.