Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hi, my name is Sandy, and I'm a Hypochondriac

A partial list of conditions -- just the ones I can think of at the moment -- that at one time or another I have been convinced or terrified I might have:

acid reflux
anxiety/panic disorder
attention deficit disorder
Barrett's esophagus
bipolar disorder
blood clot
brain tumor
cancer: brain, cervical, esophageal, ovarian, skin
chronic depression
chronic fatigue syndrome
deep vein thrombosis
heart attack
irritable bowel syndrome
Lyme disease
metabolic syndrome
multiple sclerosis
Parkinson's Disease

Of those, I actually have had:
acid reflux
pregnancy (No, not currently.)

So does this make me a hypochondriac? It does, doesn't it! Oh, my, God.

It's funny, but it also isn't. There's a low-level background anxiety (disorder? is it? IS IT???) to all this that I wish would just go away. Humor helps. If I have a bad headache, Mr. Sandy might ask if the brain tumor is acting up again, and the out loud ridiculousness of the question dispels any silly subconscious worry. Same when I tell him I can't sleep because the esophageal cancer is keeping me awake. I know I don't have these things. The possibility still pops into my head sometimes. Knowing it ain't so doesn't help.

And some of it isn't silly. Hypertension is in my family, and I got it. Just the cards I was dealt. So on some level I'm waiting for diabetes and glaucoma and colitis to follow, and I'm scared! These conditions do happen to people, and some of them (the conditions, not necessarily the people) are awful.

And there's the whole self-fulfilling prophesy factor to consider. If you dwell on something, mightn't it come true? Huh? HUH? Isn't there a whole school (maybe "school" is putting it kindly) of thought (maybe "thought" is putting it super-kindly) that says you can make yourself seriously ill by thinking like this?

When I'm feeling fine, I'm quite reasonable. Here's what I think: That the simplest explanation is almost always the likeliest; that yes, there are conditions to watch for and do my best to prevent, but that worrying doesn't help.

In the middle of the night, with a new ache or pain -- that's a different story.

Gaaah. I don't want to be such a worrier! It's not really me, y'know?
Unless I DO have anxiety disorder.

I'd better go update my will, or something.


  1. I don't mean to be laughing at you...but your lists! The loooong imagined one and the oh-so-short real one. Too funny. is awful to work yourself into a frenzy about something you KNOW is illogical, but you still can't help. I understand what you mean...not necessarily about medical conditions, but other life situations where I've been known to do the same.

    I don't think you can make yourself get these illnesses, but you can impact your quality of life if you spend too much time worrying about them. And that's important, too.

    Not sure what the answer is -- but laughing at yourself is a good start. Keep that up!

    Heidi :)

  2. Check out

    One of her posts is about her hypochondria and it is very funny!

  3. Laugh away, Heidi! Someone should :).

    sc, I just read her "blood clot" post. Good stuff.

  4. OMG - I have or have had 10 - TEN - of the things on your list. I thought I was a hypochondriac, until I found out I really was sick! Now I never think I have stuff, even when the doctors say "Um, yes, you do have _____." I'm always sure they're wrong. LOL. I almost lost my left eye a few years ago because I kept insisting it was fine, just a little pink eye. When my whole eye was red and pulpy and the skin around my eye was purple, I finally went to the dr. It was a antibiotic resistant staph infection. Med students came to look at my eye.

    So while hypochondria is bad, the opposite (total denial) isn't so great either.

  5. I'm pretty sure it can't be hypochondria unless you insist it isn't hypochondria.

  6. Bunny, your eye! Wow. I guess the trick is to find a healthy middle ground between denial and frantic worry.

    And Catherine's right -- good point. Hm. I can now add "hypochondria" to the list of conditions I've thought or feared myself to be suffering from...

    ... and declare myself a garden-variety obsessive worrier.

    I blame my children. I was never like this before they arrived.

  7. YES. The self fulfilling prophecy one kills me. I am always sure that THIS time is the big one for me and then I sit there and chastise myself for not being more stoic and such a scaredy cat.

    I think. too, when you come from an illness prone family like mine, you tend to expect the worst.

    For now, I am just hoping that my lung cancer, I mean, my bronchitis, clears up soon.