Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Health Anxiety, High Cholesterol, Decisions and Curiosity

i drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday to check in about my blood pressure(the meds are working and my numbers are good) and my cholesterol(meh). My bad cholesterol, ldl, is at the borderline high number and I have a couple risk factors for heart disease, so my doctor suggested low dose of a statin drug.

I had a big obsessive compulsive crisis about statin drugs a year or two ago, with fear of side effects and misgivings about the number of drug company funded physicians developing guidelines for when to start statins. One thing that really sucks about health anxiety is that as I get older, things really do go wrong with my health, and navigating this is like having a map but no street signs in order to use it.

I saw Leonard, my therapist, today, and he asked what was important to me in this decision(not what the OCD decrees, ie. absolute omniscient foreknowledge). It's important to me to take care of myself. I don't want to have a heart attack. My desire to avoid making any decision is strong, but I know that this is not a way to take care of myself. There are definitely aspects of my diet that I can work on, which may help, but I'm already a vegetarian. My cholesterol was fabulous when I was vegan, but that was almost 10 years ago, and I maintained veganism through sheer OCD hyperfocus on proving I was a good person.

It still feels odd trusting my own judgment. My husband of his own volition looked at the Mayo Clinic site for me, and it doesn't sound like much has changed since my last desperate search for a definitive answer. I've been having impulses to do my own search(actually, searches. One search is never enough), but I know that leads to suffering. It comes down to a) I can't know right now if diet will be enough b)It's not possible to know in advance if I will have side effects from a statin.

My desire to step outside of history and see the future as to whether statins are indeed the best choice in lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease, and it's a desire that can't be fulfilled. Leonard said to look at what is reality and what is fantasy. My fantasy is that I could start eating perfectly, and avoid all the turbulent anxieties about side effects and drug company dealings. Realistically, there are things I know I can do to improve my eating, but not perfection, and combining diet changes and medicine could work.

I've noticed a glimmer of curiosity about the medicine, rather than just anxiety. I've noticed I can get a lot more done when I'm curious, and willing to try things, and see how they turn out, rather than trying to predict the future. The anxiety still sucks, but the curiosity gives me hope. Leonard said if my OCD gets active during this process of dealing with my cholesterol, that we will work on it together, and that I don't have to let the OCD decide for me.


  1. Hi. I don't think I've ever commented before, but I appreciate your blog! Thanks for sharing your story and your life. Just wanted to let you know that I take a low dose statin and haven't had any side effects, and I'm very sensitive to medication. Of course, everyone responds differently, but that's been my experience. I have moderate ocd/anxiety, type 1 diabetes, PCOS, retinopathy, and a heart valve issue.

  2. I'm so afraid of being sick that I won't even go to a doctor b/c I'd rather not know. This was well and good until I got a kidney infection. It took several days before I went to the ER, and only did b/c I had started vomiting and was afraid the infection would go into my blood.
    "What did you learn from this?" my therapist asked.....Iwas supposed to say to have a doctor, but nah, if I had it to do again I'd have done the exact same thing.



  3. Anon--Thanks for commenting! I am so encouraged to hear from readers of my blog. I hope you keep commenting.

    ocdbloggergirl--OC is such a shapeshifter. My last real ocd meltdown came from being afraid I had a kidney infection and going to many doctors and taking meds--and your ocd takes you in a different direction with the same basic symptoms.