Hypochondria in a Pandemic: My Experience
Hypochondria (n): abnormal anxiety about one's health.
Over the years I've developed a somewhat severe case of hypochondria. The severity comes and goes and sometimes it's worse than others, but it's always there to some degree. Sometimes I'll go weeks convinced I have some deadly disease, other times a flicker of panic will hit me for a few minutes or an hour than fade away.
At some point in my life I've convinced myself I've had liver disease, a brain tumor, breast cancer, early onset menopause, additional heart conditions, asthma, and more. If it exists, there's a good chance I've at least researched the symptoms to make sure I don't have it.
Hypochondria can be a lot. It can be scary and it can suck away a lot of time and energy... As you can imagine, hypochondria in a pandemic is a very trying thing. The beginning, early February and into mid-April was really difficult for me. Some days I could manage with meditation and extra sleep, while other days I felt as though the air was being sucked from my lungs by a giant vacuum.
At this time I do not know whether I've had coronavirus, but I have experienced almost every publicized symptom at some point or another. I've cried, a lot. I've called doctors. I've literally made myself sick with worry. But here's the thing, at a certain point, it stopped feeling so bad and started to get easier. Do I still have my moments and my hard days, yes. But overall, I feel more like I did with hypochondria before this pandemic and that makes me hopeful. The idea that I have learned to manage in such an uncertain time gives me hope that I will be even stronger coming out of this.
It's so important to look at the positives and celebrate any wins you have when it comes to your anxiety because it's a reminder that you are making progress. I believe that anxiety will always be a part of my life, but I have learned to embrace it and because of that, I control my anxiety, my anxiety does not control me.