Health Anxiety. Hypochondria. Call it what you will, it sucks!
It’s all a bit of a joke to anyone that’s never experienced the gut wrenching, palm sweating, heart-stopping feeling of thinking you have something seriously wrong with you.
‘Are you ill AGAIN’? (Tuts loudly)
‘For God’s sake, there’s nothing wrong with you’ (Rolls eyes)
‘You’re such a hypochondriac’ (Sarcastic smile)
Until very recently I thought I was the only one in the world who suffered from these extreme emotions (My particular brand of health anxiety is/was cancer-phobia which is a bit ironic really. Alanis Morrisette didn’t think of that scenario did she)? But it turns out there are quite a few of us out there.
And so for all us Dr Google devotees, this is for you:
- When we ask you to check a mole/lump/blemish/area of perfectly normal skin, we need you to at least pretend to take us seriously. It doesn’t matter if it’s the twenty seventh time we’ve asked you that day, please just check and calmly reassure us. (And reassurance does not mean quickly prodding the area whilst saying ‘well if you’re worried then go to the doctors’ – this will make us feel worse)
- Dr Google is our very best friend and worst bitch of an enemy all at the same time. We can’t help but Google any and every symptom we suffer from (usually on an hourly basis). We’re looking for answers but hate the fact the top 5 results are always cancer or some other life threatening illness. Damn you Dr Google. Damn you.
- Reading the health section of the Daily Mail is the equivalent of watching 80’s porn, or Murder She Wrote – It’s really bad and we know we shouldn’t be looking, but we just can’t help ourselves. We’ll then spend the rest of the day researching the health effects of too much sugar/salt/deodorant/white bread/oxygen or whatever other scaremonger tale the paper is touting that day
- After furiously researching random symptoms we will change our entire eating/washing/breathing habits according to the advice we have gained – no matter how ridiculous it seems. If a website called ‘Debbie Beat Dementia’ tells us to whack ourselves repeatedly with sharp sticks whilst eating chalk and showering in freezing water, then that’s what we’ll do, religiously – at least for a couple of days.
- There’s absolutely no point telling us not to worry
- We will repeatedly check the same area of our body at the rate of approximately 60 times an hour. We’re not doing this to annoy you, our internal dialogue goes something like this: Checks self ‘Oh my God I felt something bad’ Checks self again: ‘Oops, silly me, it feels perfectly normal, no need to worry’…One minute later ‘I’d better check again just in case it WAS something that I missed’ Checks self ‘Oh my God I felt something’ – And so the cycle will continue…
- When we think we’ve found something seriously wrong, our bodies and minds go into panic mode. Panicky symptoms could include: Cold sweats, dizzy, dry mouth, racing heart, stomach pains, limb pains, back pains. We will then Google these symptoms which will confirm we DEFINITLEY have the illness we were worried about initially. It’s a vicious circle.
- We find it very difficult to relax and enjoy ourselves as we’re always worrying that something bad will happen imminently
- If and when we have children we will not only worry about ourselves, but our offspring too – probably even more so (My GP had to ask me to stop ringing him every night after I had my eldest, Georgia. More about that in another post)
- 4am is the most unutterably evil hour ever invented. It’s the time we’re most likely to be lying awake overthinking the pain in our right toe/finger/head (insert body part here). There’ll be no-one else awake to reassure us (see point 1) which only leaves the comfort of our finely honed Google skills – and we all know where that one leads us!
So there you have it.
Having health anxiety is a bit of a nightmare really!
Go easy on all of us permanently scared types please.