365 Days of Hypochondria

And other personal happenings.


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The Pointlessness of Waiting-Room Anxiety (Day 7)

I used to think my anxiety was good, because I believed that it would save my life one day,

that one day all the probing and prodding I subject myself to, in the name of ‘health’, would catch a ‘tumor’ or a ‘bug’ right in the nick of time.

When I was young I would sometimes convince my parents to take me to a walk-in clinic or an ER, and they did, and I was always fine. I was just taking up space, stealing time from those with real emergencies.

A couple of weeks ago I found a lump in my breast. It wasn’t imaginary, it was real, and I obviously assumed the worst. That night I kept thinking of what I would do if I actually had cancer- what kind of person I would be. Would I be crippled with fear or would I be strong? I went to the walk-in clinic the next day and then a couple of weeks later I had an ultrasound. Then the clinic called me back. I was fearful in the waiting room but the doctor eventually told me that the lump was just a lymph-node, nothing to really worry about.

I always manage to find something to stress about but most times there’s no point in stressing, even when you find an oddity. If you think you have an illness, there’s nothing your mind can do for you, unless it’s educated in science or medicine, and even then you need the right technology to find the real answers.

I need to learn to live without hypochondria because I don’t need it to save my life. I’m glad that I took care of my health when I found the lump in my breast. But all the waiting-room stress and the sleepless nights I could have done without.

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A List Kind of Day (Day 6)

These are some things I do/things that happen to ease my anxiety, most health-conscious people probably already do them!

1. Take a daily vitamin (gummy vitamins are the best).

2. Use more natural, chemical free beauty products.

3. Drink tea.

4. Consistently explore new hobbies to keep my mind off things (such as photography, letter-writing etc) (I will write a post soon about my plethora of ‘phases’).

5. Add garlic to my food when I feel a cold coming on.

6. Make sure I get enough Vitamin C.

7. Carry Tums with me everywhere (this is a weird one, I guess).

8. Never browse Web MD (It always makes matters worse!).

9. Use all-natural cleaners.

10. Tell myself that what I’m thinking isn’t necessarily real.

On another note, today was a really good day (thoughts wise). xx


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I’m Annoying But So Are You (Day 5)

I do feel bad when I inconvenience my loved ones. Not every family member has patience for an anxiety-ridden hypochondriac. It’s not something you can attempt to work around in a calendar or schedule (Sunday-family dinner, Monday-Osteoperosis scare). My anxiety comes knocking when it wants to (and hey, sometimes family reunions exasperate it). It would be incredibly unreasonable for me to assume that everyone is going to be all-smiles about my cancer-scares. This post is not to condemn any lack of patience (I mean- I annoy myself), but since I posted about reassurance yesterday, I thought that today I would post about discouragement.

So… these are the two most discouraging phrases I hear as a hypochondriac (and why):

1. “stop worrying”

(I’ve basically tuned out this phrase, and for good reason. Telling someone with health anxiety to “stop worrying” is as effective as telling a human to stop breathing. I mean, if I knew how to stop worrying, I would. Also, no one wants to be Wendy-the-worrier . The term is filled a billion negative connotations. And I wouldn’t even call what I do ‘worrying’, a better word would probably be ‘stressing’.  Worse is when people tell me I’ve wasted time worrying. After 12 years with a mental illness I can safely say that I have not wasted any ‘time’. My life might be more stressful than the average person’s, but I deal with that on my own, and I don’t need anyone commenting on the quality of my. own. life. That shit gets personal.)

2. “if you continue to think negatively, you’re going to ‘think’ yourself sick”

(I just don’t even want to comment on this one. It’s pretty self-explanitory. I heard this so many times throughout my childhood.  For a while I believed that I was giving myself all the illnesses I was thinking about. In other words, this phrase is not helpful- at all. I do believe in the power of positive thought but this is something different entirely, in my opinion.)

Again, this post is not to complain about my life (I love my family and the things they put up with). But I think it’s also important for people to understand how to communicate with those ‘worriers’ in their life; good communication is an important part of recovery.


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Reassurance (Day 4)

It’s 3:00am and I arrive home with tequila-induced melancholy. I think about how drunk I am. I think about how I am alone in my house. I think about dying alone. I think about dying alone, in my house, from alcohol poisoning.

I decide to call up one of my only friends who

a)I was positive would be awake at that hour

&

b)wouldn’t think I was a weirdo

The important part of the conversation went something like this:

“I drank a lot of alcohol and I feel like I’m dying”

“What did you drink?”

“Tequilaaaaa”

“Tequila is death”

“My heart’s beating really fast, just tell me I’m not going to die”

“You’re going to be okay”.

I’ve had similar versions of this conversation with multiple people; drunk and sober. Not everyone knows what to say, but a few people do, and I remember those moments.

There are two phrases that reassure me:

“You are going to be okay”  &   “You’re fine”.

I don’t need to hear medical terms or logic, I just need that reassurance. I don’t even need to hear it from a medical professional. If a friend, a family member, or even a stranger were to tell me I’m fine, then I believe them for that moment and those worries are temporarily gone. Sometimes I will even just simply tell a person what’s up and ask them (myself) to tell me I’m going to be okay. And they do, and then miraculously-

I am.


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Relapses (Day 3)

I’ve realized over time that the intensity of my hypochondria directly correlates with the stress I experience. Not necessarily everyday stress, but larger stressful events.

I was so close to getting over my hypochondria during my first year of university. During that year, I tried all sorts of techniques to curb my anxiety, for example, I started wearing an elastic around my wrist and I would snap it every time I felt an unwanted thought; it actually started to work. I felt pretty excited about the thought that I was curing myself.

What may seem absent from one’s conscious however, may really just be hiding out in the subconscious part of one’s brain.

In the spring of that year a close family member passed away. It was a very sudden and unexpected death and I was incredibly close to that person. Among all the grief, I seemed to ‘relapse’ back into my health anxiety. This family member passed away due to Type 1 Diabetes. Frustratingly enough, having that condition became another one of my main fears.

We can try to control our own brains (as difficult as it is to do this) but it’s the uncontrollable outside factors that make recovering from anxiety difficult.  At least in my opinion.

Anxiety is really just our brain’s way of coping. Some people cope with life physically, through aggression. Some people (like me) seem to cope with things mentally. It’s really just an unlucky draw when you realize you have to learn to ‘cope’ with your coping mechanism. Isn’t it?


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Cancer (Day 2)

Cancer. The word itself is somewhat ugly. The way the two c’s sound as they phonetically contradict each other. In astrology, Cancer’s are supposed to be harmonious, yet emotional. My mother is a Cancer. I was always glad to be a creative Aquarius.

The first disease that I ever obsessed over was cancer. So I guess it’s only natural that the idea of it still haunts me. I can remember my very first burst of hypochondria incredibly clearly; the entire image is solidified into my brain. I was stacking chairs in my fourth grade classroom when my mind wandered to focus on the hairs that were naturally falling out of my scalp. I was only eight, so I didn’t know that this was normal. What I did know was that I had previously watched a movie where a girl was bullied for having “cancer” after she went bald. So I assumed that’s what I had.

My babysitter later informed me that cancer patients turn bald due to their treatments, not the illness itself. This gave me some temporary relief.

Later on, throughout the years, I have thought myself to have breast cancer, eye cancer, blood cancer, bone cancer, brain cancer, ovarian cancer, skin cancer, stomach cancer, lung cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, leg cancer, cervical cancer, cancer, cancer, cancer. It always comes back to cancer.

I hated cancer when it killed my grandmother, I hate that cancer is a sun sign, I hate the word, I hate the illness, I hate the thought of it. And I’m always thinking of it.


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Why (Day 1)

In grade school we are all taught a few basic question words. But the one word that I could never grasp was ‘why’. For example, my fourth grade teacher would give the class hypothetical questions to answer using ‘why’:

Hypothetical Question # 1: Why did Sally stay inside on a rainy day?

My Hypothetical Answer: How does one even answer such a question? If I don’t know Sally personally, how can I know why she prefers the indoors on rainy days? Maybe she has an extreme phobia of water, or maybe she just hates rain.  Why would someone hate the rain?

All the ‘why’ questions that seem like they could have logical answers are never really understood by someone on the outside. It’s hard to even understand the ‘why’s’ relating to ourselves.

Let’s fast forward twelve years to present day (I am now twenty years old). I have a secret. And this is what I know about it:

How: Trauma involving  a ‘scary movie’.

When: 8 years old.

Where: My birthday party.

What: Anxiety. 

Why: ??????

What I am trying to tell you is that for twelve years I have been a hypochondriac. It all started when I was celebrating my birthday. I had gone to the store with my dad to buy some movies for the big night. He picked out ‘Lake Placid’ and ‘The Craft’. The latter altered my brain chemistry.

And I still just can’t seem to understand why.

So for 365 days I am going to document my hypochondria like never before. And I am going to actually try to get over this thing. Because after 12 fucking years, I’ve had enough.