It’s just one of those days where my mind insists no matter how hard I try to ignore it that there must be something wrong with me. That some disease or illness is lurking beneath my skin. Hypochondriac thoughts, begone!
I think the problem with being told to worry less and appreciate life more, is that appreciating life more makes me even more scared that I will lose it all! SIGH.
Come on, I CAN DO THIS.
(I did not update my journal about it, but last week I woke up at 7.30am with a badly twitching upper eyelid. When to the doctor and was talked down to in such a condescending tone that it was completely harmless. She could have told me the same thing without being so rude. Good thing was, it went away in another hour or so. No idea why it happened.)
While meditation is great at relieving stress, and mindfulness is good to inculcate into your lifestyle, they are not able to help plug the anxiety during an anxiety attack. So I came across this article which provides a few short steps to calm yourself down during an anxiety attack. Similar to mindfulness techniques, just simplified into 30seconds-1minute to just calm you down during an anxiety/panic attack. I have not tried it myself yet, and I suppose that’s a good thing because my anxiety attacks have stopped for now!
The Mindful Pause
It’s also not uncommon to feel like crying before, during, or after an anxiety attack. Anxiety attacks are single moments of overwhelming fear. Many people feel impending doom, as though they are about to die. As a result, they respond by crying, because that’s a natural response to a feeling of intense dread.
After an anxiety attack is over, others may find themselves stuck with these intense emotions, often about the helplessness they felt during the attack. Panic attacks are so intense, that when they’re over a feeling of needing to cry is natural and expected. Not everyone cries after anxiety attacks, but the intensity makes it natural to feel like crying.
Taken from: Calm Clinic
It makes me feel better to know that this is an anxiety attack, because many people have anxiety attacks and that also means many people cope with it. Therefore, I can cope with it.
Be strong. Be strong.
The worst part of hypochondria is hitting me right now. Had a bit of gastric this afternoon and couldn’t really breathe properly. I was watching a movie at the time. It was nothing I had not felt before and, as I predicted, it went away once I finally began to burp the gas out of my stomach.
However, on the train ride home, I began to suddenly have those worst worst hypochondriac thoughts where you think something is wrong with you – what if you have a disease, what if you have an illness, what if you lose your sight.
It was all I could do to not cry on the train. Once I alighted and came up to ground, I walked into the sign of a field and trees, to the sound of a crying child and singing birds. Idyllic, and it made me feel better, yet it also made me want to cry at the same time.
Held myself together while I bought dinner, walked home so I could soak in nature a bit, but began crying on the way back nonetheless. Now I’m just in my room, being a mess and crying for absolutely no reason.
I just want to be normal. Normal people don’t cry for no reason. Normal people don’t get anxiety attacks. I tried my mindfulness thoughts – I really did. But right now I just want someone to talk to. I have a ton of people I could contact right now but what do I say? “Hi I’m crying for no reason.”
This is terribly written post. But now that I’ve vomited all of that out…I feel a teeny bit better.
I WILL BE STRONG. I WILL FIGHT.
I went to see aerial displays at the national airshow today. Turning my eyes to the white, bright, cloudy sky was difficult. Not only did my eyes begin to hurt after a few minutes, but my floaters came on in full force and I began to see lots of bright stars too (the usually blue-field entoptic ones, except made worse because it was so damn bright).
I felt myself beginning to panic. All “mindfulness” tactics went out the window, but I did try to focus on the planes instead of the floaters/stars. It kind of failed when I deliberately tried to do it, but funnily enough, when it got to the really beautiful Korean “Black Eagles” display, I pretty much forgot about both without even trying! I was just staring at the formations eagerly and cheering.
Goes to show your brain really can block these out if it is distracted. After that, I forgot about them again as I went around to see the planes/helicopters. Makes me feel a lot better, in hindsight. :)
You discover a new symptom:
- Try to ignore symptom.
- Go through a few hours/days of ignoring symptom.
- Fail to ignore symptom.
- Struggle for a few hours/days against googling the symptom.
- Google the symptom.
- Trawl through the pages until your brain settles on a sufficiently serious disease.
- Tell self that there is no way you have the disease.
- Fail at reassuring self.
- Try to ignore the disease for a few hours/days.
- Fail to ignore the disease.
I’m trying hard to ensure the cycle doesn’t start again. For anyone that goes through the same thing, know that you are not alone. :) I will come up with more useful posts in the future about how to get over hypochondria, but right now, I’m still on the battlefield.
A itchy red insect bite appeared on my leg.
Cue whispered thought:
what if it’s a rare tumour?
Stop it, brain, you are tired.
I discussed being a hypochondriac with my mom and sister today, one of the rare times I talk openly about the issue. My sister had brought the topic up because her husband happens to be a hypochondriac too. He will obsess over little issues like a fast heart rate like me, and even had numerous tests done with a cardiologist to make sure everything was okay. He has had a few health problems, but nothing serious I would say. I started with the issue of floaters because my eyes have been the main thing on my mind recently, and found out both my sis and bro-in-law have floaters too! My sister thought it was fun to have them because she would try to follow them around or count them – what I would do to treat them with the same lightheartedness.
I could tell my brother-in-law was relieved to hear me describe the obsessiveness and panic that accompanies me whenever I find something “wrong” with myself. My sister has encouraged me before to talk about such things in front of him because it puts him at ease. I felt much better too! It was nice to find someone who understood exactly how I felt, without being made to feel silly. My family was around too to make sure we didn’t talk ourselves into a disease either. Overall, it lifted a bit of the weight on my shoulders.
I have googled for some hypochondriac forums before because I thought it would be good to talk to others about it. However, most of the places I find seem to be an abyss of doom – just hypochondriacs chatting with others about symptoms that they’ve been suffering and their fears. It made me scared because the last thing I want now is to be bombarded with symptoms and diseases. And being online, it would be oh-so-easy to search for the disease and set myself off again.
Talking with someone I know, on the other hand, doesn’t quite have the same gloom and doom about it. In real life, it’s a lot harder to panic over a symptom when talking with someone. It’s like when I say it out, it doesn’t seem so bad. What had been a mountain in my mind seems like a little molehill when I say it out loud, especially when my friends react with nonchalance. This can be both a good or a bad thing. On one hand, they could help me shake off the anxiety and march on with my life. Others don’t think it is serious, or others have experienced it too. I’ll be okay! But more often than not, it means that I can never really assuage my fears completely because people just don’t know how worried I am. If I think I am losing my vision, a simple “Oh it’ll go away!” won’t help me.
Talking with a fellow hypochondriac in real life strikes the right balance. I treat the issue with a little distance, and yet I know the other person understands all the complex thoughts swirling in my head. The fact that my family was around probably helped a lot – they were the “grounding points” to ensure we didn’t drive each other into another bout of anxiety. My sister even told me that my hypochondria is fairly mild because my parents are doctors and they have reigned me in most of the time when my fears get out of hand. My brother-in-law is worse because his mom tends to worry a lot too.
I have always thought my parents were half the reason I developed hypochondria, but I am very grateful for their presence. When I am worried about something, they are simply a phone call away. (My siblings and I live overseas.) It’s good to have that sort of support. :)
Sharing this article on Business Insider (link at end of the post) about a strategy to help you stop worrying. Hypochondria is, at the end of the day, “in our heads”. I know I said the symptoms are real, but what we want to target is the worry that comes along with it. The anxiety that mushrooms the symptoms into large monsters. The fear that may even cause you to fall sick because your mind goes into over-drive.
Next time you’re worrying, remember that your thoughts aren’t real. Life is real.
So turn your attention to your senses. To the world around you. (No, not to your smartphone.)
How does that cup of coffee smell? Did you even notice the people nearby?
Continue reading “Mindfulness – a strategy”