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Overcoming Health Anxiety - Realistically

"DON'T GOOGLE YOUR SYMPTOMS, DON'T GOOGLE YOUR SYMPTOMS"... click. *Insert into Google search bar* "Covid complications".

This was me, not more than 2 months ago. I was able to successfully dodge getting Covid for almost three years to be struck by it a couple of months ago. Not only did I get it, my 82 year old Grandmother visiting me from out of state got it along with my husband and two boys. So here we are, five people in a house, with Covid, all with different symptoms. Why couldn't I be like my oldest son? He literally had zero symptoms and went on about his life until he tested negative. Or how about even my youngest? He was congested and had a fever, but overall, a very happy baby.

No, it had to hit me like a ton of bricks. Now, I'm not trying to belittle those who had severe Covid requiring hospitalization, thankfully none of us had it that bad, however, for a hypochondriac, I might as well have gone to the ER the same day I tested positive. (Which I almost convinced myself of doing) What stopped me? Allowing my mind to rationalize the actual situation I was in, rather than spinning out of control thinking about what could happen or might happen.

To be quite honest, it was actually very helpful to have had my Grandmother with me. I was so busy taking extra good care of her, I stopped fixating on myself. However, there were multiple times Grammy had to pump my brakes and tell me I didn't need to take her blood pressure for the 16th time today or her temperature for the 567,568,746th time. It's amazing how a rational human going through the same exact experience as you can ground you, if you let them.

Some of my symptoms included a severe migraine, (the biggest symptoms nagging me to go to the hospital because I swore about 7x that I was experiencing stroke like symptoms) congestion, inability to smell or taste (I think due to the congestion more than anything), extreme fatigue, and low-grade fever. I didn't even really have a cough. Now the most frustrating part about the whole thing is that 4 days after I tested positive and the worst of my symptoms subsided, I was STILL testing positive. This was especially frustrating because the CDC stated how most people test negative 4-5 days later and you can go back to normal life. It took me 2 full weeks from the day I tested positive to finally test negative.

The testing became an obsession. I looked up reddit posts on other people's experiences and wondered if this was normal and how much more damage this virus was doing to my body being in me for so long. I wondered if I'd ever test negative and if testing positive for so long meant that I had a weakened immune system. I wondered and wondered and wondered until I literally exhausted myself mentally and had to take a nap. When I woke up I realized, all of these questions, even if I had the answer, wouldn't change a thing about how I recover or how fast (or slow) it would take for me to test negative. So each time I had the "urge" to buy another Covid test or read another forum post, I thought about that and refrained. I eventually did what was recommended and would test a full 24-48hrs after my last positive test, and only once.

In case anyone didn't know where this would end, I did eventually test negative. I did eventually get better. I did eventually let go. This may not sound like a successful example of how to deal with health anxiety, especially given the admissions of obsessive testing and review of symptoms, but had this been me even one year ago, I would've gone to the ER, if not once, multiple times for a doctor's reassurance. I'm proud of how far I've come. Anxiety is so so difficult to overcome, so any amount of progress should be celebrated. I've also seen the more you celebrate the little victories, the less often anxiety comes to visit. You may not handle everything perfectly, but be proud of what you do right. Your mind needs the praise in order to keep exercising that muscle to rationalize instead of react.

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