This is an important post because a lot of people don’t understand how my hypochondria works. Some people try to understand it (to that, I say- thank you!) but a lot of people never will. This is a post about what my mind experiences on a day-to-day basis and what an episode feels like.
I didn’t want to blog about it at the time but I had a nightmare at the beginning of the week. Normally, I feel ambivalent towards nightmares, because like any kind of dream, I’m fascinated by them. This dream however, was very triggering and I woke up in a panicked state. It was 8:00am and I couldn’t get my mind to stop racing. I tried squishing my head with my pillow (as if that would halt my thoughts) but when I tried to calm myself down, my mind simply refused. Like all of my episodes, I experienced a lack of control.
For me, hypochondria exists in two forms:
Form #1: Daily Awareness (When I’m Me)
This isn’t necessarily hypochondria. It’s what life is like for any “healthy” brain except that I experience a daily over-awareness of chemicals and things. This symptom of hypochondria is tolerable and it doesn’t consume my mind all the time. (I do often think about things like school and work and cats and cute girls okay?) It just means that I like to consciously use all natural cleaners and that I’m somewhat aware of intentionally making myself sick. This isn’t really anxiety, it’s simply me being overly aware of my environment.
Some people think I have hypochondria on my brain 24/7. This is not the case. I’m not scared of sick people unless you’re a complete stranger and you’re breathing your contagious illness a millimetre from my face. I really could care less if my friends or family make me sick. If they don’t have an extremely debilitating, contagious fatal illness, I like their germs, in a friendship kind of way. I only ever freaked out once when I thought my friend gave me Mono. This is laughable now.
Sometimes general awareness of my environment triggers me into an episode, but only sometimes. For example, this once happened when I accidentally sat on a couch covered in bleach. But that’s another story.
Form #2: Episode (When I’m Not Me)
This form of hypochondria is rarer than the first. It usually exists during moments of stress or after experiences of death. This is also the form of hypochondria that exists inside my brain when I am triggered (I am most often triggered by discussions around serious/fatal illnesses). It’s a state of panic. When I’m in this state I am NOT rational like I am in my daily mindset.
The good part about this state is that few people have ever witnessed it. I like to keep it deep inside of me and a lot of the time, it happens when I’m alone. With that being said, I do have episodes around people sometimes so I’ve mastered the secretly-panicked-inside-but-normal-outside way of living. Just the other day I had an episode with three of my friends in the room but no one noticed because I’m an artist at containing my emotions. Maybe four or five people have seen me panic (and those are my immediate family members). Hey mom, remember that time in high school when I made you drive me to the ER? Yeah…sorry about that.
Sometimes this state is induced by alcohol but only on rare occasions. When I’m in this panicked mind frame, life sort of blurs and my thinking is very negative. I call this mindset an “episode” because after it’s over I come back to my “normal self”, and anything I had thought during the episode becomes distant. Only after an episode do I recognize my own irrationality. When I view my irrationality from a retrospective point of view, I feel like I’m remembering a dream.
So that’s that. Those are the two ways in which I have experienced my hypochondria for the past thirteen years. If you think this makes me a fear-mongering psycho, please read this post.
Questions? Ask them.