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Sorry, this post may be lacking in structure, but I have so much to get off my chest!! Dx

I'm a 21 year old female. Over the past winter I had gotten over a mild case of pneumonia that lasted for about a month and a half, and ever since I'd gotten over it I felt fine aside from the fact that I've had a preoccupation with my breathing (which I was just told I also have sensorimotor OCD, as I also have ruminations with other things that will take too long to explain) and now I have absolutely no idea if my mind is simply catastrophizing the situation and making it much worse than it actually is or if I'm actually getting sick again. This isn't really new for me, but I sometimes can't help thinking that my predictions must be true. I am beginning to despise AND fear living inside of my mind because regardless of how I am able to get over one thing, a new thought introduces itself and creates room for more ruminations, therefore causing a panic attack to occur. I just wish I knew if my symptoms were psychosomatic and not actually real. I've been so focused on breathing that I think I am overdoing it and causing my back to go sore, and each time I feel one small difference in the way I breathe my heart starts to pound and I panic. That just makes me think, gee, if I have problems breathing then it must be serious... I always worry that an illness will attack my lungs and prevent me from living my life the way I want to (I would love to travel, sight see and pursue music).

I absolutely hate it and just need a little bit of support in the mean time....thanks in advance :3

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This can be a tough cycle to break, but I assure you it is possible to break it. It just takes a lot of hard work, determination, and sometimes an external push in the right direction (e.g. therapy and/or medication). I used to overthink many normal bodily sensations and functions, including breathing. I used to do a lot of "manual breathing", and that triggered more anxiety/panic, because I was preventing my body from breathing as much as it needed to. That, in turn, leads to chest tightness, dyspnea (shortness of breath), etc. And those things then trigger a panic attack.

Believe it or not, we all know when something is truly wrong versus something that is caused by anxiety. We just don't seem to comprehend that fact when anxiety has its hold on us, and that makes sense to me. The difference between a genuine health issues and a perceived illness is that one (a genuine issue) triggers natural survival instincts and signals the brain properly, while the other (anxiety) perceives a threat that is not really there, thus the natural survival instincts and signals are never triggered. Yes, anxiety itself is also a natural response to a threat, and is a survival mechanism, but it's experienced and interpreted differently when there is no apparent reason to be anxious.

I'd recommend practicing acceptance. Accept that you are well, and that your body is possibly still healing from the bout of pneumonia. Accept that you are human, and the body does all sorts of weird things in the course of a lifetime - aches, pains, etc. Accept that you are young and your body is fully capable of fighting off these routine illnesses, and trust your body to alert you when something is genuinely threatening your health.

Acceptance is not something you can achieve overnight, but, as they say: practice makes perfect. Although, it may still not be "perfect." I've been able to significantly reduce the frequency of my own irrational thoughts, anxiety attacks, etc. But lately is has become apparent that I do still need a bit of extra help, so I'm starting therapy in a couple weeks.

Feel well soon.

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