Confessions of A Hypochondriac
Hi, my name is Tony and I am a Hypochondriac, but I prefer to label myself as having health anxiety. And I only prefer to use that term because the word hypochondriac is just too long of a word. Now I know many people say they are a hypochondriac, but I have seriously struggled with it. This was especially true in my twenties when I would go to the doctor for blood work on almost a weekly basis. I was also sure that I had every terminal illness known to mankind during those years.
In my thirties and forties I began to manage the anxiety somewhat, but if I got the least little bit sick then I would assume it was cancer. I should have said that already...cancer has been my largest anxiety causing disease.
So you can only imagine how I have felt the last couple of years as my wife has had to deal with Melanoma, other forms of skin caner, and then recently my dermatologist found a precancerous spot on my lip. Yes these things would cause anyone to have anxiety, but when your entire adult life has been focused on the fear of the "C Word" then when it actually happens it rattles your anxious body all the way to the bone. And it definitely throws a psychological wrench into how you deal with the anxiety.
One of the reasons this is embarrassing for me to admit is because I am a licensed counselor so you would think that I could have cured myself, but that isn't the way it works. So I have turned to some friends, gotten my own counselor, and started doing some research. Below I have copied and pasted something from Dr. Alice Boyes' blog that I hope will help you if you are struggle with health anxiety. It is something that I hope has caused much of my anxiety and it is called catastrophizing.
When someone struggles with health anxiety they tend to believe every illness or symptom will be catastrophic. In other words every symptom, illness, or perceived illness will lead to death, disfigurement, or all the above. Even as I type this it makes me anxious to discuss. Where does all the fear develop? Well I'll talk more about that in upcoming blogs. And I will share some techniques that should help us reduce anxiety...some of which I'm trying for the first time in my life.