Is it really just a phobia/anxiety ?

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New Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 7/3/2008 2:50 AM (GMT -6)   
I am posting the same post I did in the HIV forum so you know the whole story ...
Married to the most wonderful woman on the earth. Before we were together for the first time, some 3 years ago, we were both tested for HIV outside of any window period. All negative.
We have been trying for a baby since last year.
At the beginning of May 2008, since starting my new job, I was notified that a HIV test would be done for work insurance purposes.
A normal person would not stress about this since they know they are negative ... I, however, suffer from paranoia about HIV having always believed it would happen to me when I am happiest.
I managed to, barely, keep my thoughts under control for a while, during which time I suffered from tension headaches and was unhappy all the time.
I relented to my irrational thoughts on 27th May and went for a rapid test at a local clinic. (I live in South Africa).
The test was of course negative but this turned out to only fuel my fears.
My mind first led me to phone the clinic the next day and question whether new lancets etc were used. They assured me (the same lady that did my test having already seen how paranoid I was during the test) that everything was 100% okay and I am absolutely fine.
However, now my paranoia screamed that I was at risk just after the test, and subsequently going shopping, because I did not put a band-aid on my finger where the prick for the test was made (open wound).
The finger was bleeding shortly after the test because I made marks on the receipt when I completed payment for the test. This was done while I waited for the results (10 minutes).
I had stopped when I left the clinic and I remember throwing the tissue paper in the bin leaving the clinic. My finger took about a week and a half to completely heal.
After this, at the beginning of June, I went for another HIV test (Elisa) along with sperm analysis for fertility reasons since we were battling to conceive.
This was of course also negative but my mind screamed 'Window Period' since my 'Rapid Test Exposure' :-(. 
We have since discovered that my wife is pregnant and I should be ecstatic but I cannot be as happy as I should be because of my 'guilt' at having put myself and my family in danger by not putting on a band aid.
I don't know when the work insurance HIV test is going to be done (waiting for the insurance nurse to visit the offices to do the medicals) and I get petrified just thinking about it.
We have been trying to have a family for so long and this should be the happiest time in my life ..... In my irrational nightmares HIV happens when I am happiest ...
I have spoken to the wife, who thinks my thinking is pure craziness, and even posted my questions on WebMD, MedHelp and where all the forum users and HIV Experts have told me in no uncertain terms 'NO RISK'.
I have been having intermittent sweating (twice this week and once last week) at night and when I wake up I cannot get back to sleep (logic points to anxiety doesn't it ?).
During this week I fixated on lymph nodes (ARS symptom) and have been digging in my neck for the past two days where I was able to find two lymph nodes, small and hard. They are definetely no larger than a pea/bean but I found myself constantly checking since nowhere on the internet does it stipulate exactly what enlargened lymph nodes would be like. Noticeable to be naked eye ?.
I have always had a 'fat' face so to find the lymph nodes in my neck I had to literally push my thumbs into my neck and then trap the lymph nodes against my jaw to feel them.
They are definetely not noticeable at all to the eye and are hard and small, not tender or sore at all.
I cannot find any other lymph nodes anywhere else on my body, despite searching extensively.
I am so tired of all this, what everyone else says is irrational worry, and just want to let go of my fear.
Of course, my paranoia tells me that if I let go of the fear then that is when it will happen.
I feel so stupid for having gone for the rapid test and not using a bandaid which has now fueled my irrational fear.
Quiet times, even now, are the worst, because that is when I constantly worry which leads to horrible headaches and tension in my shoulders.
I have stopped myself from checking my neck today though ... a small victory.
If I allow myself to worry before bed then I have nightmares and wake up sweating, get up and then cannot get back to sleep meaning I am tired all the time.
I could never live with myself if I have put my wife or our unborn child at any risk at all.
I would appreciate the advice of HIV experts and forum experts in assessing my risk and whether I can, without any doubt at all, let go of this fear and be there 100% for my wife and soon to be child.
That was my post on the HIV forum.
Of course the replies were that I am being totally irrational and what I imagine would never happen since it is impossible.
I feel like I should be ecstatic about us having our first child but how can I possibly do that when my mind is screaming that I may of destroyed all of our lives ?.
By testing (rapid test) I really thought I could just put it behind me and any subsequent tests would prove no worry since I know I am fine but it has done the opposite and now I cannot look at family or friends (especially my wife) without being terrified and terribly ashamed.
Can anxiety or a phobia like this be so real to me yet so totally implausible ?.
Can I really let go of this fear and live my life ?.
Can I do this by myself ?.
I do have moments when I let go of the fear and then my headaches etc disappear but my anxiety/phobia keeps telling me not to let go because then it will happen.
This is exhausting and not fair to my wife, who I love so very much, and I need advice on what to do.
I appreciate any replies and your time.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 7/3/2008 8:13 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello and welcome to the A & P forum.  I don't think you fall into the paranoia category:
A) A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by at least four of the following:

(A1) Suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her.

(A2) Is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates.

(A3) Is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her.

(A4) Reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events.

(A5) Persistently bears grudges, ie. unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights.

(A6) Perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or counterattack.

(A7) Has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner.
IMHO you are obsessing about the HIV and have Health Anxiety about this one disease. 

There is good clinical support for the efficacy of behavior treatment, especially when combined with medication for the treatment of both of these disorders.  I am not a professional but IMHO I think you would benefit greatly by seeing a physician and tell him how you feel.

I understand how uncomfortable this is making your feel and seeking professional help is the best way to get started in dealing with any of the phobias or anxiety disorders.

Take care and congratulations on the new baby.  I wish you much happiness.




Kitt, Moderator: Anxiety, Panic & Depression 
*~* *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 2446
   Posted 7/3/2008 8:24 AM (GMT -6)   
It's a lot of paranoia but more anxiety (fear) about getting an illness.

HIV is SO hard to contract unless you have sex with an infected person. I think you need to read up on the facts about HIV to lessen your fears.
You're being irrational. Being irrational is brought on by fear.

There is a zen belief that says "what we fear will find us" so your thinking that if you let go of the fear it will happen, Change your thought prcoess on this and say maybe if you keep the fear it will happen. Though HIV is not a random illness like cancer.

My advice, let this go, The chances of you winning a billion $ lottery are greater than contracting HIV.

Breathe my friend


The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong in the broken places

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 1952
   Posted 7/3/2008 10:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi, Worried! Your fears sound much like how my health anxiety feels when it's in full force: not able to convince myself to let go of the negative health thoughts even though all the experts reassure me that there's no problem.

One thing I do to try calming myself is replay my doctor's instructions over and over again in my head. You may feel better able to let go of this particular fear if you talk about your fears with your doctor or revisit the nurse who conducted the rapid test and spoke with you about the lancets after. Focus on what they say to reassure you, and ask them to repeat it several times, if you need to. It may be a little embarrassing in the moment, but if it saves you from weeks of fretting and feeling miserable and guilty, it's worth it.

Good luck.

PS - I was lucky enough to visit SA several years back and loved it! What a beautiful, dynamic, and welcoming country you live in!

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 88
   Posted 7/4/2008 9:15 PM (GMT -6)   
I agree with the above posters, paranoia is something else entirely.

You sound a lot like me when my OCD is left untreated. My brain does a loop, and getting out of that loop proves most difficult.

Irrational yes. Psychotic or severely disturbed no.

"Can anxiety or a phobia like this be so real to me yet so totally implausible ?.
Can I really let go of this fear and live my life ?.
Can I do this by myself ?."

Maybe (you may need therapy meds or a combination of the two preferably) but Yes with treatment.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 167
   Posted 7/4/2008 11:17 PM (GMT -6)   
Hiya OCD,

I want you to check out this book... it's called ""It's Not All In Your Head, How Worrying about Your Health Could Be Making You Sick" by Asmundson and Taylor.

They are PHD's who deal primarily with health anxiety. There are many useful tools to teach yourself how not to obsess over your health. Trust me I am just like you and have made myself nuts like this for years!!! Please check out the book, I think it will really help you!

And remember... when you are 90 years old you are going to look back on this and say to yourself... God, why did I waste so much time worrying about something that was never going to happen!!! The whatif's can make you crazy - and stop messing with those lymph nodes before you hurt yourself... lol. Take care, you are fine and will continue to be fine!!

God Bless,


Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2721
   Posted 7/5/2008 2:22 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello and welcome, I am sorry these fears are plaugueing you. (spelling?!!) I am familiar with paranoia, it sounds like it really has you hooked. In these times I write doen my fears and way them against what really is. That helps me to realise some of my thinking is distorted. You have been given so much great advice, and I extend my support. I hope this can ease your mind a little. Please let us know how you are going.

Co-moderator Anxiety/Panic
Panic Attack Survivor
Weekend Warrior Princess

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