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.
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"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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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Floating In A Sensory Deprivation Tank Was What I Needed To Finally Find Calmness Again

"Alone in the dark naked in warm water," I thought, "like I'm back in the womb I guess."

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I'm not the type of person to fall for what I used to call "hippie-shit." Growing up in a household where mental illness was basically a myth and emotional vulnerability was seen as a weakness, practices such as meditation and therapy were avoided and ridiculed at all costs. I'd solve my mental issues by telling myself "mama ain't raised no bitch" or go back to one quote from the movie "Bitter Melon" that actually came out last year, which stated, "depression is for white people." And while it kept me on my feet for so long, it was simply just avoidance.

That is until it all built up and my life went spiraling out of control one semester and I figured it was time for me to finally confront these feelings. Vented to my parents for the first time, dropped out of college, found a therapist, mediated, dropped toxic people, and after four grueling months of self-care and self-realization and my brother nagging me to try it, I found myself in the dark naked in a tub of salt-water.

To be more specific I was actually in what is known as a sensory deprivation tank. For those who are not familiar with it, to put it simply it is an enclosed tub of skin-temperature water that has nearly 1000 pounds of Epsom salt dissolved into it, which then gives off a high buoyancy that makes you feel weightless. Combine that feeling of weightlessness with earplugs and complete darkness and that is what I experienced for 60 minutes.

That being said, before trying it out I was terrified. The whole drive to the sensory deprivation tank, I looked like I was fine but my mind was going apeshit. "Alone in the dark naked in warm water," I thought, "like I'm back in the womb I guess." My brother, who was driving me to the place, had no idea what was going on inside my mind within that 30-minute drive: it was a lot. However, after my anxiety-driven trot into the business, I was met with assorted teas and like-minded people, and it put me in a fairly comfortable sense of ease.

While waiting for my tub to be prepared, I found this journal laying on top of the coffee table in the waiting room. I didn't expect much from it until I opened it and saw these beautiful messages and drawings from the people who experienced the tank. In it were detailed colored pencil drawings of people submerged in pools of water and extremely heartfelt/personal stories of individuals who found inner-peace and self-realization through the tank. One anonymous person wrote that one must "let all their anxieties sink to the bottom."

And I didn't touch upon it well enough, but the months before deciding to try the sensory deprivation tank were one of the hardest and most mentally draining months of my entire life. And while it did come with a lot of hardship, it resulted in me developing a much deeper appreciation in the process of healing and learning to understand yourself. As someone who used to hate "hippie-shit," I was there sitting in the waiting room, sipping green tea, reading soppy stories and waiting for my sensory deprivation tank to be prepared: it was great.

Now everyone says their first experience in the tank is different. My first few minutes in the tank were more humorous than most because that I had no idea what I was doing. You'd think after reading those stories I'd lay down in the tub and disappear into complete transformative bliss, but that was not the case at first. I wasn't nearly prepared for the buoyancy the salt created in the water that I slid across the tub due to how easy it was to float. Add to that my intense fear of the dark. The man who worked there recommended to turn off the music and the lights inside the tank after you're acclimated for the full effect and once I had turned off the light my heart jumped and I turned it right back on. Think of it as "Birdbox" and "A Quiet Place" combined. However, once I eased my nerves a bit and laid still, that's when the magic happened.

I'd say the sensory deprivation tank was like an intense form of mediation. After being acclimated to tank, a lot of thoughts raced through my mind, which is normal when doing something similar to meditation. The trick is to acknowledge these thoughts, then simply let them go. And once my mind was clear, I heard nothing but my own heartbeat. When I breathed in the water rose up and when I breathed out the water went down with me. As cheesy as it sounds, I felt like ripples of water. And once you're in that state, you kind of just disappear.

I greatly appreciate forms of mediation because I see it as an escape. In my opinion, it is the purest form of self-help because no matter how cluttered your mind is or how horrible the world seems around you, you're giving yourself that period of time to think of absolutely nothing and to allow your body and soul to just breathe. The night after experiencing the sensory deprivation tank I was in such a calm state. Much like what the person in the journal stated, it was like my anxieties fell to the bottom of the water. I fell for the "hippie-shit" and in turn, I've never been happier. And with that and the words from the movie It, I hope that maybe "you'll float too."

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