Having hypochondria as a mental illness frankly sucks because you never truly know if the health “thing” you’re worried about warrants medical attention or not, as when you have this condition, your mind always becomes convinced it’s something very serious and if not professionally looked at and treated, it’ll only grow worse. I used to listen to this mental misfire repeatedly, constantly going to doctors only to discover what I was so worried about was either normal or nothing the body couldn’t fix on its own with a little time, patience, and TLC. After countless medical visits and hours spent in one professional office after another learning this, I began handling this condition differently by not giving in to the worry that always said I needed to see a doctor, until recently that is when I experienced an episode so strong, that I gave in to it. Today, my article shares this episode in detail to help others understand what this mental illness is like for someone suffering from it.
This latest episode began while I waited in my car to see my therapist one afternoon. As I sat there, I suddenly felt a strange sensation on my tongue and quickly glanced at it in one of my car’s mirrors. That’s when I noticed its color seemed more white than pink. I immediately started searching on the internet for “white tongues” only to find many disturbing images and various health conditions that could be the cause. One should know that a hypochondriac using the internet to self-diagnose an episode is like adding a barrel of fuel to an already blazing fire.
After glancing at enough images and reading material surrounding it all, I became 100% convinced that something was wrong with my tongue. As I raced into the building where my therapist was realizing I was going to be late due to how much time I had taken researching my fears, I still ran into the bathroom to look at my tongue again and even had my therapist and another therapist look at it as well before my session even began. Neither felt any need for concern over it, yet I remained in obsession mode over it, so much so, that I spent the entire afternoon and evening on the internet and frantically talking to my partner about it.
The mirror became my best and worst friend that night spinning me even further out of control. I desperately tried a number of home remedies to make my tongue look like what I thought it should to no avail and ended up going to bed late into the night feeling exceptionally worried. When I awoke mere hours later, I went right back to looking in the mirror again and spent several hours that morning sick to my stomach with anxiety. My partner did his best to reassure me that it didn’t warrant a trip to the doctor, but I didn’t listen and ended up cancelling plans and instead headed to a local urgent care center convinced I at least had a case of oral thrush.
When I finally saw the nurse practitioner, I was a total mess. I immediately blubbered I was a hypochondriac who had convinced himself had oral thrush. As she did her exam, while she acknowledged the whiter color on my tongue and insides of my mouth, she wasn’t convinced it was oral thrush at all and instead felt it could just simply be due to my oral care. I tend to use strong whitening mouthwashes for longer than I should in my mouth, which she said could cause what I was seeing. To reassure me though, she still prescribed a prescription mouthwash for oral thrush just in case I had a very minor case of it, mostly just to ease my own concern. While I was relieved for her professional evaluation, my worry remained, as it typically does until the actual episode goes away or lessens.
Hypochondria episodes like this come from a very real mental illness, of which I inherited from my father’s side of my family. I’ve worked hard to deal with it without psychiatric medications because whenever I’ve taken them, the condition is mostly numbed, but so am I, usually left in a zombie-like state with more negative side effects than benefits. The best solution I’ve found in dealing with hypochondria has been to draw closer to God, and trust in my partner’s help, which usually translates to me sitting uncomfortably with each episode doing my best to accept them and let them hopefully pass. It makes life very difficult though, because as I said, this condition always leads me to believe there is a major health problem going on within me, when typically, there hasn’t been.
So, for all those out there who have dealt with this mental health issue, please don’t let anyone tell you it’s all in your head and to just get over it. It’s a very real condition and a very difficult one to deal with. Surround yourself with people who don’t make fun of you for it or tell you how to handle it. If medication works for you then great. But if it doesn’t, find a strong support network, build your faith in God, and know you aren’t alone in what you’re going through. I’m right there with you my friend and am sending you lots of love and light to make it through as I have with it, one day at a time…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson