What Are You Dying From This Time?
It is seven o clock in the evening and you are getting ready for a night out. Your hair and makeup are complete, and you are in your favorite dress. You feel great! You feel excited, adrenalized and content with how your night is going.
That is until you feel a slight pain radiating from your chest into your back…
Many of you may be wondering why a small pain would cause such turmoil. Or why I have a picture of myself crying.
I am here to tell you why.
In my twenty-three years of living, I have been battling a disease called Hypochondria, otherwise known as Health or Illness Anxiety, or more currently, Somatic Symptom Disorder.
“Some people have excessive and unrealistic worries about their health. They are very worried about getting a disease or are certain they have a disease, even after medical tests show they do not. And these people often misinterpret minor health problems or normal body functions as symptoms of a serious disease”.
Hypochondriacs take the slightest ache or occurrence and believe they are terminally ill or dying. Many times, we don’t even believe medical proof stating we are okay. We also tend to google what we are feeling in an attempt to find a reason not to worry. This rarely happens, as the internet is full of reasons to believe something is terribly wrong.
Take a headache for example. Most would believe that when your head hurts, you simply have a headache. Someone with Hypochondria will believe the pain is caused by a brain tumor. That no test or examination will 100 percent guarantee they are just fine. What if they missed something? What if it is too soon to detect the issue? These thoughts play on repeat in our minds.
What if they missed something? What if it is too soon to detect the issue? These thoughts play on repeat in our minds.
What if it is too soon to detect the issue? These thoughts play on repeat in our minds.
These thoughts play on repeat in our minds.
Having this disease is debilitating, depressing and exhausting and can become very costly, as constant visits to the doctor create excessive amounts of medical bills.
The first picture of me was taken before I went out one night. The second was that same night after allowing myself to succumb to a bout of agonizing worries.
I sat in my room trying my hardest not to pick up my phone. To type “chest pain” into Google and see what could be causing it. I tried my hardest to remember I have done this many times before and the illnesses I believe I once had did not exist. So instead of making the situation worse, I picked my phone up and snapped a picture. A picture I could use to get this message out there. To show what Hypochondria does to a person, to show that it isn’t pretty.
I felt lost and alone.
Many people take the constant worrying and the need of periodic reassurance as a joke, but I can assure you that it is far from a joke or something to be entertained by. Many have taken their lives from this disease, as they can not continue on with the constant worrying or fear that they are terminally ill. It is unfortunate that the fear of death can be the cause of someone’s death.
While there is no cure for Hypochondria, support from others provides those affected with a sense of relief and security.
“There is no known way to prevent somatic symptom disorder. However, providing the person with an understanding and supportive environment helps decrease the severity of the symptoms and help him or her better cope with the disorder”.
“What are you dying from this time” is one of the worst things you could say to a Hypochondriac. Sadly, I have been asked numerous times. While everyone laughs at the ignorant “joke” I walk away yearning for the understanding from others to comprehend that I can not help this is who I am. That I hate that this is how I live my life.
If there were one thing I could change about myself, this would be it.
I don’t remember an exact time in my life in which my Hypochondria was first triggered.
Maybe it was the time I saw a man walk out of Cracker Barrel without a leg when I was eight. I believed I too would lose a leg. Maybe it was in seventh grade when I saw a girl pass out in chorus due to locking her knees. It arouses a sense of dread that I would also pass out if I didn’t bend my knees to the point I looked as if I shrunk a foot. But sadly, I also do not remember a time in which I did not worry about every small health matter.
There never really seems to be a logical explanation for what is actually going on in my body. But I am learning to cope with the idea that I really am okay. My family, close friends and boyfriend hear about my worries every day and haven’t disowned me yet, so they are some pretty awesome people.
If you suffer from Hypochondria, I encourage you to not only focus on what makes you happy (I know it is extremely hard), but to think back on how many times you thought you wouldn’t live to see the next day, but did. Delete WebMD from your browser, laugh a lot and overcome any negative mental state. It may seem impossible; even as I type this it seems so for me. But, I know I am not alone in this, that there are others going through it also. And just knowing that I am not alone makes the biggest difference.