Battling hypochondria

Health anxiety weighs down sophomore


Photo by Alyssa Kift

Story by Matthew Martin, staff writer

Wanting to believe, but my mind won’t let me. Hearing the possibility of removing the weight, but it only gets heavier. The thoughts racing through my head that I might be all right. The feeling is unbearable.

The doctor tells me that I’m good, but that’s not what I hear. I hear a scratching at the back of my mind telling me, “He’s wrong. You know it.” A voice haunting me. And me, cursed and in the dark. Hypochondria has not always afflicted me. It’s like a ghost haunting me, but the exorcism does not help me, it scares me, terrifies me.

It’s clinical name is health anxiety; it’s always weighing over my mind. It operates from inside my brain, like a control center. Hypochondria hard wires my brain into believing I have illnesses that I don’t. It hurts more to believe that I have them, and hurts even more to believe that I have hypochondria.

People who suffer from this disorder are also known as “hypochondriacs.” The name almost feels like a label: it sticks, it doesn’t peel off, people make fun of you. It upsets me when I am called “clean freak,” or “germaphobe.” I didn’t choose to be dangerously aware of my health, no one does.

I think so much of my anxiety that it sickens me. It becomes dangerous when you stress yourself into disorders you don’t have. From its control center, hypochondria fools the brain into a state of mental illness, into a state of believing it has a defect when in fact, it does not. Hypochondria has no one target, no one disease it falls back on. It aims at many things all at once.

It can program a fever or something severe, like the flu or cancer. It scares me, thinking that I am a victim, that hypochondria makes me think I am a victim. Think of paranoia, now think about it, think about it. Meditate on it. Try and tell your doctor you need surgery. Think about how he just doesn’t want you to have help. Think about the world collapsing in.

I believe that I have ADD, OCD, anxiety, social anxiety and the list continues. That’s only four out of the whole list that I have. Four nails hammered in by one symptom, one root to awful trees, because I have one symptom. That one symptom can take over my mind.

In the mind of a hypochondriac, one symptom equals the whole package. I often make trips to the doctor to talk about my thoughts on myself. I ask the same things and get the same answers. The difference is, the doctor says I’m wrong, but I know I’m right. For some reason, I want to feel better when I hear the doctor say that I’m fine, but my mind forces me not to believe him. It’s almost like my brain wants to have the disorder itself.

There are many reasons why hypochondria is known as health anxiety. I just want to be healthy, to believe I’m healthy, infallible even. That’s why one thing wrong with me could lead me to believe that I need a prescription for something that I really don’t have.