365 Days of Hypochondria

And other personal happenings.

When I’m Not Me: What An Episode Feels Like (Day 239)

7 Comments

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.

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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.

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Questions? Ask them.

7 thoughts on “When I’m Not Me: What An Episode Feels Like (Day 239)

  1. Great post! ok questions :)
    -What do you think is the one most helpful thing someone could do for you if you were to indicate you were in any kind of secret-panicked state?

    and (this ones a bit blunt,but if your willing I’d love to hear an honest answer :) )

    -Why do you think it is you do not share the answer to the above with your close friends and family; so that were any sort of event to occur, or feelings to arise, you could indicate and then complete a reassuring activity that you would be comfortable with?

    • Thank you! Good questions. The best thing someone could do if there is an indication that I’m having an episode would be to reassure me or bring up something else to get my mind off things. But most of the time I am alone when these things happen. Sometimes when I feel this way around others, I do try and steer any conversation away from diseases (as this is usually what makes me have an episode when other people are in the room). Since a lot of people don’t understand the concept of triggers or being proactive about steering clear of potential triggers, I will usually just tell people when what they are saying is triggering and hope that the conversation moves in a different direction. Even if the convo ends, I still might be triggered if my mind is extra imaginative that day so I will keep it to myself because a) I know I just have to wait it out and b) I wouldn’t want my mental health to impact the mood everyone else is in. But the worst reaction I’ve received is ignorance to the fact that certain conversations can be really negative experiences for me. And sometimes it’s hurtful when people don’t want to acknowledge a trigger, even after I’ve pointed it out to them. But yes, I mostly just keep things to myself because that’s what I’ve always had to do. I guess I don’t know another way. :) I hope that answered things!

  2. Good morning, and Happy Friday! (I almost thought this one wasn’t going to come)

    The reason I asked those 2 questions specifically is, while I do not have hypochondria, I felt when you defined it as having 2 forms depending on your situation, is very similar to how my anxiety and other issues affect me. And I also find it very hard to be open about my needs with friends and family; becuase when I do try to share or broach topics such as triggers, it either doesnt stick and I find myself repeating things that (to me) are pretty logical, and I find I get very hurt when friends/family forget them. I also find that it opens the door for some pretty hurtful/ignorant assumptions to land on me. Such that if I show any kind of emotion to a situation, people automatically assume I’m having an “episode”, or that I’m “just panicking”. Rather than letting me be a fully rounded human that can have all ranges of feelings.. AND can sometimes get panicky about some of those feelings.

    All of which lead me to want to hide my anxieties, and make me feel ‘less-than’; which of course exacerbates chronic pain, and stress, and fear.

    I’ve started just being brutally honest with those that did not get my hints/requests to stop prying to my medical life, as well as those that like to bring up triggers around me, even though I have directly asked them to not participate in those types of conversations around me.

    I now no longer give whatever fake-ass response that normally comes out to diffuse the situation, or all me to swallow my uncomfortableness; now I straight up answer with honesty and without any shame. A co-worker came up to me yesterday and was like “oh so hows your back?” I looked right at her and said, “It’s the same it’s been every week you ask me that question for the entire time I’ve worked here, and the entire 10 years before that. My central nervouse system is constantly on high-alert, and right now I have a a migrain that could cut through steel. My day is going ok though, and myself as a person was doing pretty ok until you completely disregarded the conversation we had last week that was remarkably similar to the one we are having right now, about how I’m not comfortable talking about my state of health with you, and I shared the information in the past becasue I had hoped it would allow me to have a day less filled with intrusions into my personal life, and that it would shed some light on my limitations.”

    Sadly.. even that doesn’t work with moms……haha

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    • I’m glad that our situations relate, that really affirms the way I experience anxiety, and I definitely do also see crossovers with the way I experience hypochondria and the way I experience my other anxieties. I totally understand and I am sorry you have to experience that situation with triggers as well. It’s definitely hard to try and explain your emotions to people, especially because people are quick to make their own assumptions about what an experience is like without asking first. I get that too, and the fact that some people feel like they need to walk on eggshells around me sometimes is concerning because anxiety is not an experience that works on a constant continuum, and people don’t understand that. And no one likes to be the person that people are “afraid” of. Hiding mental illness definitely IS a trend among people living with it. It’s what we really need to fight back against so you should feel no shame in being honest with people and I commend you for doing so. People need to realize when they’re approaching a situation is a harmful way.

      Some individuals ignore me or write me off when I point out a trigger (even though it is something I do very rarely) and if their response doesn’t change when I confront them, I try to avoid them. Lately though, I’ve realized that avoidance doesn’t really solve the issue. I’m definitely going to take some tips from you and I’m going to shamelessly start trying to educate people. Thank you for sharing as well. Here’s to hoping that people get a little better at putting themselves in other people’s shoes. All we can do is keep powering through. <3 Have a great rest of your day!

  3. Hi there. A fellow hypochondriac from England here. I found your blog through the wonders of google and thought I’d have a quick read, and stumbled upon this post. I think you’ve completely nailed it, this post is almost exactly how I would describe the feelings of an episode. Sometimes I think it’s good to know that you share experiences like this with other people. So thankyou!

    • Ah- thank you so much for your kind comment! I am so glad you liked the post :). I agree- it’s really affirming to know that you aren’t the only one feeling things, and it makes my entire day to know that I helped you in some way. <3 I hope things are well with you :).

  4. Pingback: Coping Tips for Hypochondriacs (Day 280) | 365 Days of Hypochondria

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