My hypochondria is a tick, like Tourette’s episode. My conscious mind knows I’m probably overreacting to a sensation, but by this point, I’ve become hyper-aware and the army of fight or flight soldiers in my brain have been summoned and they can’t be recalled. It’s like an infection my brain creates and my body responds by sending the battalions of white blood cells. I ignite and put out fires in my head all day long.
My sunglasses feel tight on the sides of my head and this is all I can focus on. Is my head swollen? Is my brain swollen? Is there a tumor causing pressure? Is it an aneurysm seconds before it pops? It’s probably nothing. I can feel pain almost anywhere if I concentrate long and hard enough, focusing on a particular area of my body.
One of my frequent flyers: “Am I getting enough air?” I’m not sure why I would suddenly not have enough air. I have zero previous [real] symptoms or history of breathing problems nor do I have any physical problems which would cause a sudden constriction of air. No one is choking me. Or is my brain guilty of asphyxiation?
I can hypothesize dozens of reasons for any symptom. Lack of air? Lung cancer or a lung aneurysm are front runners. I recently watched a Dr. Oz episode where they tried to provide anxiety coping techniques. An expert said imagining worst case scenarios often causes anxiety (you think?). As a way to counter these thoughts, (freaking out over a worst case scenario) one should recognize what is happening and refocus the thinking to the polar opposite. The expert’s premise hopes to enlighten panic attack sufferers that the likelihood of something extremely bad happening is just as possible as something exceptionally good.
The problem with the expert’s suggestion is when in an anxious/panic state of mind, the bridge between rational and irrational thought is flooded with endorphins. For me, my hypochondria often leads to panic attacks. When I’m worried about dying, the opposite is “I’m alive and well” and I don’t alive and well during an attack. During a panic attack, my mind is bombarded with little H-bombs of “what if’s.”
Plagued by a perpetual fear of death, it’s no wonder I give myself panic attack symptoms to subconsciously prepare myself for what it feels like to die. Realizing I have no control over the serendipitous future makes me hold on tighter. I need to let go. I need to relax.
“These are your years to be healthy. Stop looking so much. You’re going to will it to come.” My husband has played both good cop and bad cop to my mental health challenges. He tries hard to bring me down (or up). He wants to put his arms around me and kiss my boo-boo like he does for my daughter, but so far his embrace has not shielded me from my downward spiral.
It surprises me how I can have strong will power towards something like dieting, or writing every day; I can yield power of mind over temptations and addiction tendencies and yet I am an apprentice in the mastery of my mind.