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I've been suffering from a hodgepodge of symptoms for the better part of the last two decades. Most of these symptoms presented themselves not long after getting getting a very nasty bout of food poisoning when I was 12 while the rest didn't present until many years later:

- Arthritis: This tends to be system-wide but shows up most severely in the lower back, hip, knees, shoulders and neck.
- Misc. visual problems inc. flashes of light, blurred vision, after images, auras/visual migraines & visual snow. Oddly enough my actual vision is excellent outside of the problems
- Dry eyes
- Tinnitus
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Random numbness and or pain
- Swollen glands / nodes
- Sleeping issues inc. choking, holding breath, infrequent night terrors & very frequent hypnagogia
- Tiredness, lack of energy
- Poor memory, inability to concentrate and a mild form of dyslexia (reading and writing)
- Asthma (allergic) and all that comes with it
- Allergies, primarily to mold and dust

Needless to say I've been to countless doctors and screened clear of cancers, lupus and the other major autoimmune issues via blood tests. Additionally my MRI was negative for MS and all eye tests have come back free and clear of problems. In fact about the only thing that's ever actually been confirmed was the the allergies and asthma. Though I should mention that two doctors have now and again labeled me with Reiters and Sjogrens without any proper testing to confirm it.

Generally, the prevailing diagnosis consistently seems to be that this is all in my head and the best thing for me is some anti anxiety medication or perhaps anti-depressants. I don't consider myself an overly anxious person, though I will admit that the symptoms themselves do tend to present anxiety. As for depression, I'm by no means depressed whatsoever. In fact outside of the health issues (which I don't linger on nor normally discuss with anyone) I'm very happy. All that said, I am willing to accept it's an anxiety issue or a mental health issue if that seems to make sense. Especially since both of my parents are mentally ill (Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder, respectively).

So here's my question. Excluding the obvious and confirmed symptoms of allergies & asthma, do you think it's possible my symptoms are a product of my imagination or mental state? I suppose I'm just looking for a "virtual" second opinion before I jump on this mental health bandwagon.


It doesn't sound like your depressed at all and some of the things you described sound very real and not in your imagination. You are the only one who can describe to a specialist exactly what your feeling. Migraines are real and so is blurry vision. Dry eyes could be related to your tear ducts, medication will help that. How do you know you have IBS? Has this been diagnosed by a professional? Diarreah/constipation/stomach cramps/bloating could or could not be IBS.
Your lack of energy and lethargy could be associated with your problems during the night. Apnea (holding breath) is a major cause of someone being exhausted during the day. Choking episodes could be swollen tonsils. Your inability to concentrate may go hand in hand with the things that are going on while your trying to get a good nites sleep. If your tired, things have a hard time working.

Don't let any doctor diagnose you with just "i think" without proper testing. Do you have Health Insurance? I suggest that you look for a Specialist and insist on a battery of tests to help determine what is going on. I don't think it's in your head at all.


Thanks for the quick reply. I've actually been to numerous specialists including an ENT, gastro, opthamologist, sleep specialist and a rheumatologist. I've had a fully battery of blood tests as well as an ultrasound, MRI, Barium swallow, colonoscopy, upper GI endoscopy, cardiogram, various x-rays and numerous dilated eye exams . Everything always comes up clean. No traces whatsoever that I have any sort of disorder above and beyond my allergies via a scratch test, my asthma via breath test and sinus tachycardia via a heart monitor (which turns out was probably just related to the asthma or, you guessed it, anxiety). The IBS is a diagnosis by default. Nothing comes up on the tests it's IBS.

The point then is that I've been told time and time again that I'm fine. Heck even my sleep study came back clean (though I only actually slept for a little over 2 hours). With a track record like that I tend to get a lot of eye rolls whenever I visit a doctor or specialist for an issue. Needless to say when I have weeks like this one where I've been seeing flashes of light / lighting since Monday, I have a swollen gland and my left ear is blocked I don't even bother to go to the doctor anymore. I'm pretty sure they think I'm either certifiably insane or I'm doing it for the attention. :-)


Your not insane and to you, this is real and pretty annoying. There fore, i hate to even suggest this but, if every doctor has tested you for a million things and everything comes back ok, maybe you should seek out the advice of a therapist.
I am, in no way, suggesting that this could be in your head, but maybe you would find it helpful if you just talked to someone in that field.
I don't believe that you are doing this for attention at all and this feels real to you.
Is there anything going on in your personnel life, anything that is stuck someplace in your mind, something that you care not to remember or talk about?
I don't mean to pry and you don't have to respond to me at all, but it was just a thought. Maybe something is buried and is starting to mess with you, is this possible?


Well I did have a rough childhood and I'm not on speaking terms with my parents (in all fairness my father lives under a bridge and my mother is far too hot and cold for me) but as for my own life things are really good. I'm a generally happy guy. I love my job which I've had for a decade, I've been happily married (to a woman well out of my league) for quite some time and now we even have a kid on the way. Heck, in 15 years my wife and I have never even had an argument. So I couldn't tell you the last time I felt sad or depressed.

As for anxiety I do get quite anxious about my symptoms but some are quite a bit hard to ignore. I get "optical migraines" which start with a peripheral loss of vision and progress into total vision loss (like someone is repeatedly snapping photos in my face). This persists for 45 minutes at a time and the only way to get them to stop is to lay down in the dark. I'm not anxious before they happen but I certainly am during the migraine, I can't see. As for the arthritis, it's persistent so I tend to ignore it. A few Aleve a day keep it in check. Allergies and Asthma are also fairly manageable. Just about all the other symptoms (IBS, tinnitus, etc.) are simply annoyances.

All that said while I'm not so inclined to think it's psychosomatic, I do realize that if there's no evidence it's a physical problem then that doesn't leave a wide variety of alternatives. To that effect, I do see the reasoning of the docs, I suppose it's just a bitter pill to swallow. That's why I thought I'd post about it online first. Seeking mental help is sort of a last resort for me because the last thing I want is rely on drugs or medication for happiness especially when I'm pretty happy to begin with. :-)


None of want to admit that there could be a little something going on, nothing that can't be fixed with a little one on one with a trained professional. I have a lot of "stuff" that i try to "stuff" if you will, and i know it's not a healthy thing to do. I am not depressed either, at least i don't feel it, but there is plenty of things that make there way front and center on several occasions, when these thoughts "pop" up, i do get down and quiet and a bit short tempered.
My childhood was nothing to write home about, and being that i am the only child, or at least i'm told that but know otherwise, i would catch the brunt of every single misfortune that came up.
My mom passed away March 6th of this year and we had not spoken to each other in 5 years prior to her death. The day she died was the first time in all those 5 years that i saw her, and that was after she died. My kids are still up in arms over that one and they are still a little angry with me because i did not at least make the attempt to see her on her death bed. They wanted me to help her go in peace, i didn't want to, i did not care then and i still don't now.
When the world seems like it's crashing down on me, i do feel like something hurts or aches, and i can almost talk myself into not feeling well. I get headaches and achey bones, all of a sudden my stomach hurts and i have to make a quick get away to the bathroom. This is real, i think, but i can work myself up into getting sick.
I used to have horrible panic attacks, but i was tought how to get them in control, breathing into a brown paper bag really helps, i thought this was a bunch of hooey, who knew??
When i get really worked up, i feel it start from the bottome up. I start to get shakey and then sick at my stomach, then the headache will slowly enter. I realize that i am bringing this on myself, but i don't know why. I could be in a wonderful mood, then i'm not!!
I do notice when i get feeling like this, my childhood pops into my head, i don't know why. I get really angry thoughts of my mother and i start to think of stupid stuff like things that went wrong as far back a 5 years old.
I have a very good friend whose wife is a counselor and i have spoken to her at times. We haven't gotten to the turning point yet, but soon enough i'll be able to get a handle on stuff.
So bottom line is, don't fear talking it out to someone. It is not degrading or humiliating at all. It's trying to figure out why things happen when they do and what sub conscious thing popped into my grey matter to set me off, i was perfectly fine a minute ago.

You sound like a nice guy, you just maybe have some bits of baggage that you need to get rid of, even if your not really sure. It feels good and cleansing when you start to open up to someone, when i do i feel a little lighter some how.
I am positive that you want to be the best husband and dad that you can possibly be and it sounds like you already are. But you may need to focus on "you" for a minute. Empty the garbage, you may be surprised at the difference it could make for your physical well being. I thought it was a waste of time, there is nothing wrong with me, i'm pretty happy, wrong.
So it wouldn't hurt you to check it out. Keep me posted, just log on and i'll find you :-D


Thanks for the feedback. I try to keep an open mind about this so I'm certainly open to any avenue of support that might help. As I stated, many of my symptoms amount to nothing more than annoyances but the visual problems really get to me. I'm a designer by trade and spend a lot of time on the computer so flashes of light, visual migraines and so on significantly impact my workflow.

The good news is, I've upped my dosage of Naproxen Sodium and it seems to have really helped with the flashes of light / lightning. However the moment I lower the dose, it comes back. I'd call my opthamologist regarding this but his final recommendation was anti anxiety / anti depressants as well so perhaps that the only viable route.

Thanks again.


Hi Nathan. I have the same symptoms and more. I have GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) with panic attacks. It sounds like you may have had a couple symtpoms initially, but worrying over them increased the anxiety and symptoms. You mentioned in your last post that your parents struggle with mental illness. It's been my experience through anxiety and research that people will often take a fear of "mental illness" when they experience something unpleasant and unexplained, and whether they realize it or not, they obsess over that fear and increase their own symptoms. This often then leads to the individual restricting their life. Firstly, what you need to know about anxiety is that regardless of what you might hear, it IS NOT a mental illness. Anxiety disorders are a learned behavior burried in the brain. It can mess up your brain chemicals and neurotransmitters, but when the anxiety is addressed and removed the brain goes back to normal. I personally was placed on many many antidepressants for many years and was shoved around from Dr to Dr. What I would recommend for you would be to first do some research on anxiety, and if possible do it today. There are some great tools out there for understanding anxiety and the physical manifestations that go along with it. I can think of a couple resources that may be particularly helpful to you. has a self quiz. For your particular case, a specific book came to my mind: Self-Coaching by Joseph Luciani, which I believe would help you and your situation a lot. The Linden Method by Charles Linden may also be worth a look at if you want a more program oriented approach, although it is rather expensive.

I hope this helps you.

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