This week's blog comes courtesy of Caitlin Hart, a 4th year Journalism Student.
Something is wrong. Something is wrong. Something is wrong. The thought circled in my head, I’d try to dismiss it but couldn’t.
The first time it happened it was my stomach. I had a weird grumbling feeling that no amount of peppermint tea or relaxation could get rid of. I went to the doctor, who said I should get tested for an ovarian cyst despite the discomfort being in my stomach area and no where near my uterus.
The tests came back negative and over night the discomfort went away.
Shortly after my jaw started to hurt. It felt like I had a vice grip on my face. I panicked and thought surely it had to be bone cancer. My jaw was tender and it was getting to the point that eating was starting to be painful. I soon found out that I was grinding my teeth at night.
So I got a mouth guard and the pain went away.
But then I started to get headaches. I would without fail have a headache everyday for two weeks. So I went back to the doctor. He said it was allergies and gave me some nasal spray. I was fine for a bit but then a month later the headaches were back. I was looking for signs to discount a brain tumor. I would spend countless hours searching my symptoms on the internet hoping to rule out anything serious but only coming up with more possible life threatening things I could have.
This was my first major spell of stress related hypochondria. Over the next couple of years it would resurface during stressful times. Sometimes it would be a persistent stomachache, other times it would be a rash or frequent nosebleeds. During non stressful times non of these things would bother me and I would be able to move on. And wouldn’t you know it they would go away fairly quickly. But during stressful times the symptoms would go on and on, with my worrying getting more intense each day.
I developed a bit of a strategy to curb this. Looking back on my history helped. I to evaluate my stress levels to see if that could be the cause. I remind myself that it goes away when I don’t think about it. I talk about it. If it doesn’t go away I go to the doctor to ease my mind.
All of these things seem easy but when you have a tendency to over think and are prone to anxiety like I am it can be the hardest advice to take. For me part of the struggle was talking about it. I felt crazy when I talked about it. However talking about it allowed me to see things more clearly. What was life threatening in my head was benign when saying it out loud.
While I would love to say that this will never happen again I know it will. But each time it does I learn how to cope and get through it so the next time isn’t as bad. Mostly I’ve learned to be kind to myself. When this happens I know to take extra care to make sure I eat well, sleep lots and talk to those I love most because I need it. I also know that I can get through it because time after time I do.
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