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.