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Topic: Asbestos anxiety

7 posts, 0 answered
  1. AntoniaM
    AntoniaM avatar
    3 posts
    11 May 2017

    Hi everyone.

    I'm new to these forums. After an asbestos scare that turned out to be OK a while ago, I think I have developed quite bad asbestos anxiety. I've always been a bit of a worrier in general but nothing like now and I have have never suffered from it before, unlike now.

    My current worry is this: last weekend my family and I went to a birthday party in a community hall. Many of the children who were there were playing on the floor and many adults including myself joined them, sitting on the floor. As we were leaving I noticed a pile of white powdery stuff under one of the doors right next to where we were sitting on the floor. The door was old and looked like it could be a fire door and I know that these often contain asbestos cores and if damaged asbestos fibres can be released. I tried not to think about it and tried to suppress any asbestos fears, but now, a few days later I'm just overtaken with worry. Plus I feel silly and ridiculous for worrying as clearly no one else at the party noticed or worried about it, so it's like I'm first of all worrying about the potential asbestos but also worry about feeling so silly.

    I worry that, if this was asbestos, as we sat on the floor right next to that pile, we would have got asbestos fibres on our clothes. Then we sat in the car, so it might now be on our car seats, our clothes and so on. I'm trying to think rationally but my I'm just getting overcome with fear and worry. It feels paralysing. My husband thinks I'm silly and paranoid and that there's nothing to worry about. He's the type of person who very rarely or never worries about anything. I so wish I was more like that at this moment.

    I've even emailed the community hall to ask if the door contains asbestos and if there's a risk it could be damaged but I haven't heard back from them. I just feel so silly and worried at the same time. I've got an appointment with my GP so will bring this anxiety up with him.

    Thanks to anyone who has read my long and probably silly post. Has anyone else had asbestos anxiety and would you have any tips on how to deal with this all?

    Thank you.

    2 people found this helpful
  2. JessF
    JessF avatar
    1548 posts
    11 May 2017 in reply to AntoniaM

    Hello Antonia, this kind of anxious reaction is commonly discussed here. In this case, it involves asbestos, but it can be any kind of event that has left a traumatic scar or caused panic.

    The way I like to think of it is, imagine you are trying to catch a ball and it misses and hits you on the arm. You feel the initial sting, but then for days afterwards you're going to have a bruise. It's a reminder of what has happened, and it still hurts, even though the event that caused it has passed.

    I'm guessing that the asbestos scare you mention in the post has shaken you up quite a bit, and left a bit of a mental bruise to the point where your mind is being extra vigilant to try and protect you from what it sees as being similar threats.

    Can you tell us a bit more about the original scare and how it happened, how it made you feel?

    3 people found this helpful
  3. AntoniaM
    AntoniaM avatar
    3 posts
    12 May 2017 in reply to JessF

    Hello JessF, thank you so much for your helpful reply. Your description of how it feels is so spot on. I really feel like I am now very much hyper vigilant to any potential asbestos threat out there. And I feel so silly about it.

    The original scare involved a locksmith carrying out work and drilling into a fire door, whilst my family was right next to it, as in my children were playing literally right next to it, within a meter, in the house of a member of our extended family. There was a lot of dust and white matter from the core of the door coming out. After the locksmith had left, the possibility of asbestos occurred to me and I started googling, realising that older fire doors often have an asbestos core and that work on them can release a lot of fibres. Our relative had the fire door core tested, and it turned out to not be asbestos, luckily, but I was quite worried during the couple of days it took to get the test results back. This was more than six months ago and I've been on hyper alert since then. It can be better for a while, even for a couple of months or so, but then there's some new event that makes me worry again, like the white powder under the community hall door that I mentioned in my original post.

    The worry seems a bit paralysing and I keep thinking obsessing over it and thinking of what can be contaminated, if we touched that pile of white stuff in the community hall, what the possibility of it actually being asbestos is, and so on. It's like the mind is racing. I really do need to see a counsellor, I think.

    Thanks again so much for your helpful reply.

  4. Fear Is A Part of Us
    Fear Is A Part of Us avatar
    4 posts
    15 May 2017 in reply to AntoniaM
    Hi Antonia,

    To give you some reassurance, it generally takes years of high-exposure to develop damage to your lungs to due asbestos. While science can't deny that low-exposure could damage your lungs, they indicate it his highly, highly unlikely. Like one a million unlikely.

    You need to understand and refute the anxiety claims that your body has been harmed. There is no evidence of such damage. All evidence points toward you being unaffected. I myself have dealt with asbestos, throwing it in dump tips (oops) and have definitely inhaled it on multiple occasions. But I acknowledge that the chances of me being harmed by this activity are extremely slim, around the same chances that I have cancer and I don't know about it, or the same chance that i'm going to have a heart attack when I wake up.

    You need to acknowledge the irrationality of your fear, and remind yourself that everything is OK. On a daily basis, you encounter far more dangerous activities just by living. Don't succumb to the irrationality, challenge it and stand strong on your conviction.

    Identify that this is anxiety talking, and not a real threat. Tomorrow you may fear something completely different, but you must treat it with the same rationality that you will treat your fear of asbestos.
    4 people found this helpful
  5. geoff
    Life Member
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    geoff avatar
    13475 posts
    15 May 2017 in reply to AntoniaM
    Morning Antonia, my eldest son has always has exactly the same fear and often rings me up for advice or whether it could be possible, because I was a builder/handyman, however he too, like myself suffer from OCD so it's always a worry for him everywhere he goes, and is very conscious, not only for himself but his two small girls.
    I won't be able to stop him thinking this way, because with OCD that can't happen, he can only be reassured to ease his fear, but if however he does know that there could be asbestos, then I say to him, 'don't go near it' or alternatively tell him to dress up with safety gear as well as wear gloves, but he would prefer not to go.
    I would be getting in contact with the council rather the hall, because I'm not sure they would know, but the council should be asked and if there is any asbestos, then the hall will be closed and it will be removed by professional asbestos removalists. Geoff.
    1 person found this helpful
  6. Mariela
    Mariela avatar
    1 posts
    12 September 2018 in reply to Fear Is A Part of Us
    I too have an irrational fear of asbestos and become anxious too. Lately I have been concerned about my garage which is made of asbestos fibro sheets. The inside has never been painted and i'm anxious that the kids having grown up with it and playing in the garage may have inhaled fibres.
  7. Ez94
    Ez94 avatar
    4 posts
    16 June 2020 in reply to AntoniaM
    I have this fear as well! It has been consuming my mind for so long! I am scared it is following me everywhere not and that everything is contaminated! How did you deal with it, in the end? :)

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