I’ve been suffering from a disease for quite some time now. Denial has kept me from acknowledging in, but after much research and soul-searching I’ve finally come to terms with this infliction.
I suffer from hypochondria.
It’s an exhausting ailment that takes a great deal out of me. A large portion of my mental energy is exerted while imagining diseases I could be dying from. There has been the “side cancer” I thought I was battling for the past two months (kidney infection), the blood clot in my arm (pulled muscle), the brain tumor (sinus headaches) and a plethora of other aches and pains that I assume must be life-threatening. If I didn’t have shitty-ass insurance, I’d probably be at the doctor every time my appetite is low (must be scurvy!) or am sleepy (thyroid cancer!). All the little stories I’ve heard and accumulated through the years- the friend of a friend of a friend who didn’t know he had diabetes and almost went into a coma, the film business acquaintance who didn’t know she had a heart defect and died while running, the numerous people who’ve developed blood clots from birth control, my cousin who broke her rib walking a dog and later found out she was in the final stages of lung cancer though she never smoked- sit on the ledge of my mind dangling their feet, waiting to play on a daily basis.
It’s impossible for me not to go there, and as I get older it’s only gotten worse. Aren’t I supposed to mellow out more with age? I’m almost 30- aren’t I supposed to become a yoga teacher with a self-diagnosed gluten-intolerance and practice Buddhism-lite? Aren’t I supposed to only wear all-natural cotton fibers and have a weird shit-eating grin on my face at all times and tell people that I’m the reincarnation of Anne Frank, that we’re all the reincarnation of Anne Frank and death is not scary because in the next life we will all be flowers?
And the fear isn’t reserved just for me. If my boyfriend, who is also a hypochondriac, has a 101 fever, then I’m convinced he’s going to die. He’s also convinced he’s going to die and we lay there, defeated, thinking about all the things we still want to accomplish in life. If I can’t handle the melodrama that comes with his 101 fever, how the friggin’ hell am I ever going to have a child, huh? I’ll will be hovering over the kid’s bed watching it breathe like a goddamn creep. The kid will wake up and say, “Mommy? Why are you staring at me?” and wild-eyed I’ll responded with, “We’re all dying, my child.”
I am a byproduct of alarmists- people who don’t think that they’re dying but that everyone they love is dying- and I guess it’s a only a natural progression for me to believe that me, you and everyone we know is on the brink of developing leprosy and we’ll be forced onto an island of our own (that actually doesn’t sound half-bad). “Alarmist” is a word I just learned from the Woody Allen article on hypochondria in the New York Times. It’s worth a read! It made me laugh out loud several time…and curl up into a ball and cry.
I’m also a byproduct of extremely solid genes. I’m superstitious so I don’t want to rattle off what ailments we haven’t suffered from, but my chances of living a long life are pretty good. Of course, I think I’m the exception. Maybe some (some being my mother) would say, “Lauren, for the love of GOD! It’s not all about you!” but I can’t help but feel I’ll be the 1 of 3,000 people who develop bacterial meningitis this year or 1 of 100 people who have Progeria. Never mind that Progeria is developed in the womb- I’d be the only person on the planet EVER to develop it at 30. And damn you X-files for teaching me what Progeria is!
Lastly, I’m a byproduct of Jews. Something makes me think that Jews are more prone to hypochondria than others, but my boyfriend isn’t Jewish (though he can put the guilt trip on as well as my mother). A Google search of “Jewish hypochondria” brings a flood of results including “Hypochondriacs are We!” from the Jewish Journal and the Wikipedia page “Jewish Humour“. We Jews worry a lot and we suffer a lot, so this logic isn’t far off.
Eh, I hope one day I can stop worrying, but in the meantime, I’m going to get this hypochondria checked out.
Do you suffer from Hypochondria?