Monday, 7 September 2020

Health Anxiety and What It Is

I uploaded a blog post the other week all about my mental health and where I am at now and how I am coping and I thought that for today’s blog post I would delve a little deeper into one of the mental health conditions which I suffer from and share a little more about it. This is going to be a blog post all about health anxiety, which was formally known as hypochondria. I am sure that at some point in your life you have been speaking to somebody and used the phrase “Stop being a hypochondriac”, but trust me when I say that if you actually have health anxiety, it would be absolutely amazing just to switch off the feelings and stop blowing things out of proportion, but sadly for myself with having OCD and an obsessive nature, that is simply not possible.


For me, the first time I realised that I really worried about my own health was when I was around 14 years old. My nan had just been diagnosed with skin cancer for the first time because of a bad mole that she had on her leg. Within an instant, I began analysing all of my moles (and I am a very moley person) and I came to the conclusion that I too had cancer and that I was going to die. Every single one of my moles was ‘abnormal’ and that sent me into a frenzy. In my head, I thought that I was just losing my mind, so for many years I did not say anything about the negative thoughts that I was having.


It wasn’t until many years later when I was laid in bed with my now husband that I finally mentioned how I feel about my moles and how concerned I was with them. Not only did I tell him how I was feeling, I was sobbing uncontrollably about what I thought was going to happen to me. I can just remember seeing his startled expression and he forced me to book an appointment at the doctor. To me, going to the doctor is the most terrifying experience because I think that they will tell me that my time is numbered and that is why I simply do not go.


I can remember walking into the doctor’s office, speaking to him about my moles, showing him, getting emotional and he took my hands and told me not to worry. Some people are simply prone to have ‘irregular’ looking moles, which is not a worry unless they change drastically. This should have been like a weight off my shoulders, but in my head, it just made me feel like a ticking time bomb and it didn’t help my anxiety at all.


I guess the health anxiety reached breaking point for me only a couple of years back. I was sat with my fiancé at the time and we had a couple of drinks and we were talking about our future whilst in the midst of planning our wedding. I can remember talking about starting a family and then making a very cold statement saying, “There is no point in me having children because I will just get into my mid-thirties and get breast cancer and die anyway”. The look on my then fiances face was just anger because he didn’t want me thinking that way, but he also understood that my head was going to that place because my nan and her sister had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.


Following that, I decided that it was time to speak to my councillor. It is incredibly tiring to think like this all of the time and try to get through your day. To say that these thoughts sank me into a depression would be putting it lightly because truly you do not see the point in going on with your life because you think that it is going to be tragically cut short. For example, I know that at the end of the year when the Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off is on TV, I am going to watch it and get panic attacks because every single condition and story that they show, I will adapt into my own life and see the symptoms in myself.


Like I said at the beginning of this post, I really wish that I was able to shut off these feelings of ‘hypochondria’, which I put in inverted commas because I think that the word has such negative connotations with it. I want to talk about this because I hope that it may be people a little more sensitive to what people are going through and how some peoples minds unfortunately work.  I feel incredibly lucky that I have a support network around me that listen to my worries, they see me cry and understand where my thoughts are coming from and I can talk out many of my issues.


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