Health And Wellness

4 Times My Hypochondria Made Me Do Crazy Things

Photo: getty
How Does Hypochondria Affect You? 4 Times My Hypochondria Affected My Daily Life

“OMG I have the sniffles, maybe I have the flu! I’m such a hypochondriac!”

No, this is not what being a hypochondriac is all about. The word, hypochondria, is thrown around like a hacky sack these days, but most people can’t actually answer the questions: “What does hypochondria feel like? How does hypochondria affect you, and the people around you?”

The struggle is real, and hypochondria is actually linked to anxiety and can become a serious, debilitating mental disorder.

Where it came from and why I experience it isn’t exactly clear. It could be my family history of anxiety or a kind of PTSD from my close encounters with people who have had cancer or gotten sick.

Wherever it came from though, hypochondria is not my friend, and while I have learned to control it, sometimes, it gets the best of me.

RELATED: What Counts As Mental Illness?

I don’t want to get too serious on you. Dealing with this mental disorder kind of sucks, but sometimes it makes me do things that lead to some funny stories. No lie.

Wondering how hypochondria affects people? Here are 4 accounts of the times that my hypochondria made me do kinda, sorta — no, totally crazy — things.

1. I walked out on my job.

Yup, it’s true. I quit my job because of my hypochondria — one of my ultimate lows.

Before heading off to college, I spent a significant amount of effort trying to set up a job near my campus. I took the hour road trip out there during the summer to interview for a job stocking shelves at Ulta.

All was going well for me until I started to experience some pain behind my right eye. It felt like my muscles were being pulled in different directions, and it was hard to keep it open because my eye would water uncontrollably.

I thought that I had scratched it or something but after visiting the campus doctor, I was informed that nothing was actually wrong with it.

It became very obvious to me that since nothing was wrong with the eyeball, the problem was coming from behind my eye, somewhere near my brain, and was probably, no, most likely, a tumor.

I cried as I thought about how my life would be ending soon, I watched people on campus laughing and going to parties and got depressed thinking about how I would never do that again since I would be paralyzed once the surgeons removed the tumor.

I tried to call out of work that Friday so that I could drive home and see an eye specialist with my parents. My boss told me no. I headed into the store, trying to get through the shift, but when I went to tuck my hair behind my ear, I noticed a huge lump.

The tumor! I put down the merchandise I was stocking, walked out the door to my car and drove right home, into my mom’s arms and to the eye hospital. After waiting in the emergency room for 7 hours with my parents and getting an MRI, the doctor told me that nothing was wrong; it was probably just a pulled muscle.

The pain went away within a week, but my job and the 7 hours of our lives spent in the waiting room were gone forever.

RELATED: 25 Quotes About Mental Health & Mental Illness To Help You Feel Less Alone In Your Struggle

2. I hid under a hedge in someone's yard.

What can hypochondria do to your body? Well, this tale explains it perfectly.

Looking to travel as much as I could, I decided to take a solo road trip to Virginia where some of my family members live. They had an extra bedroom where I could stay, so I headed to Richmond looking to explore.

Being a little older, my step-grandma wasn’t really up for wandering around the city and visiting the Edgar Allen Poe Museum with me (her loss). 

Now, anyone who knows me well is aware that my sense of direction is that of a new bornbaby’s, and that I truly could get lost in a brown paper bag.

However, I made the drive and wasn’t about to let my incapacity to follow a map stop me. I parked my car in a city lot, grabbed a map from a tourist stand, and started hitting some spots on my list.

I was gaining confidence as I found the museum and a place to eat, so I thought it would be no problem for me to find that crafty little cupcake shop I had read about online.

I followed the map, sadly for me, in the complete wrong direction. I walked so far, in fact, that I had walked out of the city and into the suburbs somewhere.

There were no taxis driving by to scoop me up and no convenience stores where I could buy a bottle of water. When I realized this was when I started to panic.

That summer day was particularly hot, and I started to realize that my uncomfortable sandals, long black pants and complete lack of water were becoming a problem.

Once I started to panic, I couldn’t stop. Thoughts of dehydration and overheating were becoming very real, and I instantly started to burn up and feel sick.

I needed shade — I was going to die if I didn’t get it — and as I looked around, all I saw was a bit of a shadow under a hedge.

I didn’t care that it was hardly any shade at all or that it was a hedge on the lawn of some random person’s house. I hiked up my pant legs, tied my hair in a knot on the top of my head, turned my t-shirt into a belly shirt and laid in the grass under it.

I took deep breaths, prayed that the owners of the house wouldn’t come outside, and found the phone number to a taxi service on my barely-charged phone.

When the taxi arrived, I jumped out from under the hedge, red and covered in grass clippings, and ran to the car door. When I told the driver where I had walked from, he couldn’t even believe it.

I never did get that cupcake.

RELATED: 10 Things You Should Say To Someone With Mental Health Problems

3. I got myself tested for STDs while alone in China.

I was teaching English in China for a year and doing a long distance relationship with my boyfriend. I had no physical contact with him — or anyone else for that matter — in months but for some reason, I was really worried about STDs.

China wasn’t exactly the cleanest place and the bathrooms were especially questionable. Plus, I had heard about Hepatitis coming from contaminated water and some of the restaurants I typically ate in were a little sketchy.

The thought of contracting some kind of disease started to weigh on my mind and the idea that I could have some sort of STD really stuck with me. Not a single day would go by that I didn’t think about it, and I started to fall into a depression that I would have something and that my boyfriend would leave me.

I thought I was tainted for life and I spent a lot of days crying in the bathroom.

Advertisement Don't struggle alone. Get started on your therapy journey with BetterHelp, the largest therapy service, and receive 15% off.

I realized it was ridiculous to think this way and do nothing about it, so I asked my Chinese co-worker to accompany me to the hospital so that she could translate between me and the doctors.

Chinese doctor visits are, um... let’s just say, a little different than what I was used to — and the experience wasn’t that pleasant. I had to get my blood taken in a room full of other patients and then got screamed at in Chinese by the gynecologist who was doing my examination.

She kept telling me to open my legs wider while she brutally checked out my ovaries. When it was all finished, she handed the test tubes of my swab samples right to my friend and told us to go deliver them to the lab ourselves.

While I ended up being free of disease, I would have rather skipped the whole ordeal instead of putting myself and my poor co-worker through it for no reason.

RELATED: Thank You, WebMD, For My Self-Diagnosed Hypochondria

4. I refused to have sex with my boyfriend for an entire year.


A post shared by  (@crazyheadcomics) on Aug 31, 2018 at 8:36am PDT

How does hypochondria affect daily life? Well, it made me try to avoid having sex with my boyfriend for an entire year.

I mean, he wasn’t completely deprived; I mustered up the mental strength to do it every once in a while, but it was a constant battle for the both of us.

We took a year-long trip together around Asia and New Zealand, and while everything was going great, I started to become anxious. I didn’t have health insurance or a lot of money and didn't really feel comfortable seeing doctors so far from home.

Eventually, the anxiety built up during the same time that my periods went through a bit of a change. My monthly ordeal was becoming more painful than it ever had been before, and I was experiencing pain that I didn’t recognize almost weekly.

I decided that it was probable that I had ovarian cysts, cervical cancer or some kind of tumor in my uterus. Once I even considered that I was pregnant and that something had gone horribly wrong.

My understanding of my ailments were always changing, but what stayed consistent was my constant defense against my boyfriend’s advances.

I hardly let him touch me and sometimes we would have fights over it. I thought that I was going to die because of something going on inside me but I was too scared to figure out how to see a doctor.

Sometimes I cried during sex, and other times I would make my boyfriend stop right in the middle of it.

We went on living like this until we returned home and I finally saw a doctor. She examined me and said that everything was fine.

Once I got the okay from her, the pain seemed to mysteriously go away and never came back. 

RELATED: Read This Before Divorcing Your Mentally Ill Partner

Shannon Ullman is a freelance writer and budding journalist who has been traveling the world for more than 10 years. 

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!