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. :)