Surviving The Highs And Lows Of Being A Hypochondriac

Surviving The Highs And Lows Of Being A Hypochondriac

Yes, I'm the kid that cried wolf...56 times to be exact.

"Mom, I took my contacts out today because they were bugging me and now they're all swollen and red. Can I go to the eye doctor? What if when I get there they tell me it's an overgrowth of bacteria from my contacts. WHAT IF THIS BACTERIA IS THE ONE THAT MAKES YOU GO BLIND. I need to see a doctor, my eyes are itching now too! It's possible I may be blind when I wake up tomorrow."

These are the exact words that came flying out of my mouth the other night to my parents. My father just stared at me in confusion as I was interrupting his new favorite show and my mother simply looked at me and said one word... "hypochondriac."

My names Joelle and I am a hypochondriac (well, an undiagnosed hypochondriac). I am the friend who will constantly call you to tell you she's dying. I'm also the girl who has a thermometer on her nightstand because she has to check her temperature every night before bed. These are thoughts that pop into my head about every 10-20 minutes *no this is not an exaggeration.* I am in the constant belief that I have a slight fever and it will turn into a plague the following morning.

I have an anxious mind when it comes to my health. I have lost a significant amount of family members to cancer as well as other diseases so it's no surprise I am a health freak. Almost two years ago I was diagnosed with a stomach disorder that when left untreated, can lead to esophageal cancer. Knowing me, you could understand that the second the doctors told me this I was ready to eat protein shakes for the rest of my life.

My everyday life is a constant job in itself. I am either researching newly found outbreaks or insisting that the birthmark on my cheek is growing. It is not a typical day for me unless I'm calling my mom telling her I'm dying of a new bacteria they found eating people's organs. Yes, I am the child that gives my mother multiple heart attacks a day... P.S. I'm sorry mom.

My mother hears it about as much as my boyfriend does. I'm pretty sure he loses his mind daily over how often I tell him I'm dying. He is a slight hypochondriac as well, he just won't admit it. I told him about my recent encounter with my eyes, and he is more persistent on me seeing a doctor than my parents. This could also be due to the fact that I drive my parents up a wall 145 times a day with this.

Being a hypochondriac is exciting and exhausting. I'm constantly learning about new medicine in the works; however, I have made myself physically ill from worrying about a disease I thought I had. On the bright side, turns out I don't actually have Ebola.

This is my way of slightly apologizing to all my friends and family for the constant text and calls about my near death encounters. On the upside, I have kept all of you on your toes and alert of new diseases! You're all welcome.

I guess it's no surprise I'm entering into the medical field as well. Future MD in the making. I promise I won't overthink your symptoms, but I will never under play them as well.

Cover Image Credit: Joelle Giudice

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I Woke up In The Middle Of The Night To Write About My Fears, They're Worse Than The Dark

One minute I'm thinking about what I want to do after college next thing I know I'm remembering the time I tried talking to a boy and choked on my spit.


It is one of those nights when I am tired, but for some reason, I can't seem to fall asleep. So, what do I do? I pull out my laptop, and I begin to write. Who knows where it will lead. It could lead to a killer article or something that does not make sense. I mean it is almost 2 A.M. In my mind, that's pretty late.

Anyways, let's do this thing.

Like many people, thoughts seem to pile up in my head at this time. It could be anything from a time when I was younger to embarrassing stories to wondering why I am "wasting" my time somewhere to thoughts about the future. All of these things come at me like a wildfire. One minute I'm thinking about what I want to do after college next thing I know I'm remembering the time I tried talking to a boy and choked on my spit.

The thought that is going through my mind as I write this is about the future. It's about the future of my fears. Let me explain. I have multiple fears. Some of my fears I can hide pretty well, others I am terrible at hiding. My fears may seem silly to some. While others might have the same fears. Shall we start?

1. My career

I don't know where to begin with this one. For as long as I can remember, my consistent dream job has been working in the world of sports, specifically hockey. A career in sports can be and is a challenging thing. The public eye is on you constantly. A poor trade choice? Fans are angry. Your team sucks? "Fans" are threatening to cheer for someone else if you can't get your sh*t together. You can be blamed for anything and everything. Whether you are the coach, general manager, owner, it does not matter. That's terrifying to me, but for some reason, I want to work for a team.

2. My family

Julie Fox

Failing with my family, whether that be the family I was born into or my future family, it terrifies me. I have watched families around me fall apart and I have seen how it has affected them. Relationships have fallen apart because of it. I have heard people talk about how much they hate one of their parents because of what happened. I don't want that.

3. Time

This could be a dumb fear. I'm not sure, but I fear time. With every minute that passes, I am just another minute closer to the end. With every day that passes that I am not accomplishing goals or dreams I have, I am losing precious time. It scares me to think of something horrible like "What if I die tomorrow because of something horrific?" or even worse, "What if I don't make it through today?" It's terrible, I know.

4. Forgetting precious memories

When I was younger, I had brain surgery. It is now much harder for me to remember things. I am truly terrified that I am going to forget things I will want to hold close to me forever, but I won't be able to. I am scared I'll forget about the little things that mean a lot. I'm afraid of forgetting about old memories that may disappear. I'm worried that I'll forget about something like my wedding day. That might seem out of this world, but it's a reality for me.

5. Saying "goodbye"

I hate saying bye. It is one of my least favorite things. Saying bye, especially to people I don't know when I'll see again, is a stab in the heart for me. I love my people so much. I love being around them. I love laughing with them. Thought of never having a hello with them again scares me beyond belief.

6. Leaving places that I love

Alright, let me start off by saying this- it takes a lot for me to love a place. It has to feel like home. It has to make me feel comfortable. It has to be a place I can go to and be myself. Thankfully, I have had and still have multiple places that are like that. I have also had places I could not wait to leave. I think that's why leaving places I love is so hard and something I fear so much. I am afraid I'll never get that place "back", for lack of a better term. I guess, I'm trying to say, it's like a piece of me is leaving as well.

These six things are just the start of my fears. Some of these might seem "dumb" or "ridiculous" to you, but for me, it's my life. These are the things that I think about the most. These are the things that feel like a pit in my stomach. These six things are parts of my life that mean a lot to me.

Cover Image Credit:

Emily Heinrichs

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Poetry On Odyssey: A "Break" At Work

Breaks at work aren't always what you think.


There are times during work where the stars align, and I'm right in their sights to get supremely screwed over. If things get slow and quiet enough, and I've just finished something I've been focusing all of my energy on, something...happens.

I break.

I don't know if I would call it a panic attack, since it's less fear of dying and more sudden hyper-awareness and inability to deal with anything, but it sucks all the same. It completely swallows me into a dark pit of brokenness.

One of the things I do to try grounding myself is messaging those close to me. I structured this poem similar to what one of those conversations was like. During all of the edits, I decided to keep it mostly short and disconnected because that's exactly how I feel during these moments—disconnected and unable to keep a coherent thought.

I hope you never have to experience something like this; I hope this poem gives all you need to know about what these "breaks" are like.

Break at work, everything to think about
Chores, writing, apartment
Chores, writing, apartment

Can't do any of it
Can't move
Can't hear


Panic attack?
Don't know
Not good

Bathroom? Fresh air?
Not possible
Can't move

Bra too tight

Deep breath anyway
Ignore the constricting
Actually focus on it

Cold and hurts
Drink more anyway

Can't eat anyway

What do?
Don't know
Can't think

Can't do
At work

Nails in palms, eyes shut tight
Focus on breathing exercises
Focus on chest pain


Deep breath in
Hold it
Slow breath out

Ignore how it stabs
Ignore the tightness
Focus on the rhythm


Keep eyes shut
Until breathing
Is stable

Open eyes
Blink because it's bright
Inhale, exhale, breathe

Hear the quiet of work
Everyone doing their own thing
Oblivious to what just happened

See the sharpness of screen
Blink it into focus to see
Everything I have accomplished

Drink some more water
It's necessary, it's good
Not cold, not hurting, just soothing


Breathe in relief, it's over now
The world has returned
To what it ought to be

Whatever it was
That break
Was not a break.

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