A Glimpse into Hypochondria

A Glimpse into Hypochondria

Colleen Burke, Opinion Editor

Hypochondria is defined as “an excessive preoccupation with one’s health, usually focusing on some particular symptom” or “excessive worry or talk about one’s health.” Truthfully, it transcends that definition. It is an emotional and psychological thing, one can be born with it or one can acquire it through a traumatic event – either way it’s difficult to ignore. It is also different for various people, how one person perceives it or how it makes that one person feel might not be a duplicate of a different person. The disease itself can be obvious in someone or subdued. It is hard to place why you have it, and you can’t find a way to stop it no matter how hard you try – which is something that makes the issue even worse.

To say someone is “plagued” with this “disease” seems incorrect, but it is how I feel at times. It is something that no one but the person who has it can understand, so many things are going on inside that are hard to stop. A friend can tell you, “it’s just your imagination, you know it isn’t true, you know you’re perfectly healthy.” But would they believe it? No matter how hard one tries to convince themselves that they are, in fact, healthy, it is still hard to trust. It’s like they are obdurate, but on an extremely high level.

The emotional toll it can take on someone is immense, often the only time one believes they are healthy is once they are tested for whatever they are convinced they have. They find a bump somewhere, their mind can jump to cancer. Chronic headaches? It must be something neurological. Extreme fatigue: anemic. A desire to be alone… depression.

I regularly feel as though I’m  not in control; I feel helpless and scared. What’s worse is I wish I didn’t feel this way, I wish I could be normal and not think every sniffle or ache is a death sentence. And me with all these emotions swelling and buzzing throughout my body convince me even more that something is wrong. Maybe the reason for all these thoughts are that I am sick or depressed. But to get help? That’s weak.

But I know it isn’t actually weak to get help, it is actually quite brave and powerful. It’s complex to write down the string of thoughts that can take me from being tired that day to thinking that it means I have some rare disease and I might not live much longer. Although this is a morbid thought and, from the outside, seems over dramatic, I can’t stop myself from thinking that way.

Some may say it’s crazy to think like that, without boundaries and without sense. It’s crazy to have a life filled with worry and fear, and only the occasional security. The honest truth is, that when those happy, fun, secure, normal moments come along, they seem so amazing, and all I can do is grasp them and enjoy them and embrace all that they have to offer. So that when I wake up with a mosquito bite and I think I’m going to get the West Nile Virus, I can hold on to those meaningful and jubilant times and get through it all. I can remember is the fact that I am still young, I can have fun and live my life. I mean, we are all going to die anyway. Unless of course you are Tuck Everlasting and manage to discover a pond at the base of a tree with magical water… But unfortunately that’s not very likely. And, if just for a moment I can forget my jumbled insecurities and hypochondriac moments, that’s when I can truly live.