Doctor, doctor

Mental health

One thing worse than being a hypochondriac is being a hypochondriac who has been diagnosed with a major health problem.

I don’t know that meditation helps with this, so I’m not going to talk about being plugged into the universe or finding peace within yourself. I’m going to talk about how bloody annoying it is. Hypochondria is another of the litany of mental health disorders I have, and sometimes it gets so bad I feel that I am on the verge of death. My brain frequently flashes forward to me being diagnosed with whatever I have too late, and dying.

Today, I’m worried that the fluttering in my heart is a sign that I have a serious heart problem. Last week, I went to see a skin specialist after months of wrestling the fear that the ‘lesion’ on my back was skin cancer. I have ‘sticky blood’ so I worry about getting a clot, even though a specialist has told me that my crazy leg growth, made up of a giant network of tangled blood vessels, will ‘unlikely’ leech a clot into my arterial system, instead continually clotting within itself. I worry, that somewhere inside me, cancer is growing. That I am blanking out a lot because I have early onset Alzheimer’s. That my gallbladder issues are going to shorten my life. That the giant hemangioma on my liver is not innocuous, as a liver consultant assured me, but something far more sinister.

After all of the births of my sons, this health anxiety worsened. There are lists upon lists on my iPhone, things like ‘ask about darkened patches at top of leg’ or ‘ask about stabbing pain in stomach – is it an infection’ or ‘ask about bouts of breathlessness’. There are actual, real health diagnosis and then there is a plethora of thoughts about them, with embellishments. Right now, the thoughts feel more harmful to my health than the diagnosis themselves.

You battle mental illness on all fronts. You need to be like a ninja, constantly brandishing different weapons and strategies just to survive the day – just to survive your life. One mental disorder goes hand in hand with another. You don’t just get the gift of depression, you’ll get a sideshow of anxiety or a good nip of OCD to go with it. You’ll have hypochondria, and its playmate will be panic.

There are solutions to the shitshow inside your head. I am committed to finding them. We are here to master our minds, not the other way around.

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