When Doctors Dismiss Your Health Concerns as 'Hypochondria'

Recently while going through my disability process, I had to sort through a ton of paperwork, all regarding my health, doctor’s notes and test results. The process was long and hard but I ended up learning more about myself and my doctors. Misinformation that didn’t get to me, which now I’m very happy to know.

Though it was mostly easy sailing through the paperwork, it was hard not to read my own doctor’s disbelief in my illness, symptoms or questions and concerns I might have had.

In one instance while reading over my doctor’s summary note, I found this exact statement about me, “She is always worrying about her health. She spends a lot of time online looking for an alternative diagnosis to explain her symptoms.”

However true the statement above, it does not explain everything. I will be the first to admit that when you’re in physical pain and doctors aren’t helping you, it can turn you to Google to try and figure out what is causing the pain. Yes, this process is stressful. Yes, it leads to a lot of dead ends. Yes, just because you have symptoms of an illness does not mean that you have it. A lot of diseases share mutual symptoms, therefore, making it difficult to diagnose.

But that does not mean I haven’t been diagnosed with three different chronic illnesses so far, and have reason to worry. Not just in my mind, but on paper and test results.

Yes, to the outside world, it may look like I’m a hypochondriac, but when doctors aren’t helping you figure out what’s wrong with you and you aren’t getting answers or have a medical professional who is willing to go the extra mile and review your whole history, you can feel tremendously anxious about your health and with good reason: you aren’t getting the proper medical care you need.

The “hypochondria” in my instance doesn’t stem so much from myself, but from doctors who dismiss me as healthy or as normal. After going to those failed appointments and spending money I don’t have to get answers I’ll most likely never find because Dr. so-and-so tested my reflexes and glanced at one of many MRIs and declared no further need for an investigation as to what is causing the pain, I usually go home and for the first couple of days go through my records and see if I or someone else missed something. And yes, Google symptoms. If I met doctors who were willing to work for me instead of against me, I would not have to go home and exhaust every option and opinion on the internet.

Point being – I am not searching for answers so that I can be validated, I am looking for the root cause of my pain so that I can hopefully get better treatment for said pain and live a better, fuller life because of it. Most Ehlers-Danlos syndrome patients have multiple other diseases. This has been proven in my case with a postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome diagnosis and an endometriosis/adenomyosis diagnosis.

There could be many other said illnesses that step into the light throughout my life, I am not anxious about that. I am worried that in my EDS, POTS and endo diagnoses, I had to bring my suspicions up again and again until finally the proper physical exams and tests were done.

My goal in the future is to have a doctor bring up a concern to me about my symptoms instead of me having to bring up my symptoms to doctors and beg them for help. Plead with them to take my physical symptoms and health history seriously.

Getty Image by 6okean

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

college student wearing a red jacket and backpack and walking on campus

To the Chronically Ill College Student Feeling the Pressure

There are a lot of things about being a full-time student with chronic illness/disability that other college students don’t understand, but one of the things I personally think goes the most easily overlooked is the unrelenting pressure to do well. A lot of people will argue that all college students live with this, and they [...]
woman wearing a brown jacket and red beanie sitting outside at a cafe by herself

The Problem With Saying, 'The More You Do, the More You'll Be Able to Do!'

Obviously, limits are not the same for everyone, and even within the same diagnosis, the same illness, they differ. It’s even different within a same person! I was never really healthy, but was kinda normal until I hit a (health) wall in 2003. I was working full-time, balancing a regular job to pay the bills [...]
husband hugging and holding his wife while standing outside

Why I'm No Longer Offering My Husband an 'Out' Because of My Illness

I didn’t realize I was hurting my husband by giving him an “out.” My husband and I have been through a lot together. We’ve gone through endometriosis, infertility, a high risk pregnancy, a terrifying NICU stay, fibromyalgia, mental illness, myofascial pain syndrome and hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. There’s been a recurring theme in my marriage every [...]
timberland boot, tieks flat and chacos sandal

23 Shoe Brands People With Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Recommend

As a disorder of the connective tissue that results in joint instability, hypermobility and chronic pain, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome absolutely requires quality, supportive footwear. People with EDS may have challenges like unstable ankles, overly flexible feet, a low arch, flat feet, frequent injuries and pain in their feet and lower limbs. All of these issues mean [...]