I'm Done With Minimizing My Hypochondria
Hypochondrism seems to be widely downplayed in society compared to other mental illnesses. People throw around the term like it’s a new age fad.
“Oh, I’m such a hypochondriac. I think I have this disease or that disease.”
It has made it pretty easy for someone like myself, who actually has hypochondrism, to be part of the elite social club where you are not looked at too strangely. It allows me to laugh at myself and joke around.
When you tell someone you have generalized anxiety (GAD), it is often misunderstood and judged harshly. When you tell someone you have hypochondrism, it’s brushed off and minimized. This is my experience. It has allowed me to not give too much thought to the fact that it truly is a problem in my life, a problem that sometimes mentally consumes me.
I am consumed daily with thoughts of illness and diseases I might have for every little thing I feel physically. I self-diagnose constantly, and I joke about it at times with my coworkers. In reality, it can be overwhelming at times. Having Google to help me self-diagnose every little symptom into a worse case scenario causes me constant worry that I am dying.
I have had carcinoma in situ twice in my life. I have had surgeries go wrong and lost a third of my blood. I have had my share of medical realities. I am not sure if this has perpetuated my hypochondrism, but it certainly feeds off my GAD.
I can take a simple symptom I am having, like a second of vertigo, and I will convince myself I have a brain tumor. I can feel tingling in my legs and am sure I have multiple sclerosis. The list goes on and on.
I don’t run to the doctor for my every little self-diagnosed complaint, like others might with hypochondrism, only because I am well aware it’s probably just in my head. I’m also so embarrassed. I depend on my husband to gauge my overreaction and normal reactions as to see if I should seek medical attention because I can be irrational.
With that being said, we spent hours in the emergency department last week when I kept getting stabbing pain in my leg and my husband just really wasn’t sure why. Although he has a medical background, he isn’t my personal doctor. He wouldn’t want to tell me not to go and then it turns out to be a blood clot. It puts a lot of pressure on him to be my personal medical adviser.
I decide to go to the doctor myself if the obsessive thoughts on a particular symptom do not pass, and my anxiety is peaking as a result. I really just need the reassurance I am not dying of X , Y or Z. This is the first time I am writing about my hypochondrism. It is something I usually joke about and minimize. It is a real issue and people do struggle because of it. It’s not a joke.
So if anyone has done the same as me and fluffs it off and giggles when they talk about it, I totally get it. Sometimes it helps to not be so serious all the time and to laugh at ourselves. Yet, when it is interfering with the enjoyment of daily living it might be a good idea to be honest about it. The truth shall set you free.
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