Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Inside the shell...

Greetings web browsers, nutty and not-so-nutty, and welcome to my new blog. I have created this site for two primary reasons (1) for my own sanity and (2) to provide some comfort (and hopefully a few laughs) to my fellow worriers who have created a rather frightening bubble of anxiety for themselves thanks to the wonders (read:horrors) of readily -available health information on the net and their own predisposition to visit crazy town on a pretty regular basis. (Embrace it, people- it's the only way.)

Anyway, here is a little about me. And, just maybe, a little bit about you.

I am a health nut. No, not the good (but, let's face it, pretty punch-worthy) kind of health nut who spends hours at the local gym, subsists on a diet of salmon and leafy greens and shudders if anyone utters the word "diet soda" in his or her presence. No, I'm a CRACKED health nut. The kind who will make a fast food run a few times a month, often skips the gym in favor of watching reruns of The Office and shudders when someone asks her to "go for a run". But also the kind who is constantly worried about being knocked off at any moment by the most debilitating and fatal disease she can think of that month.

I use humor because it's a defense mechanism and also because, despite the fact that I've never stopped suffering from this often strangling anxiety (not yet, anyway), when I look back at some of my bizarre behaviors and positively insane obsessions over the years, what can I do but laugh?

In truth, the internet was probably one of the worst inventions of modern times to co-exist with my existence. Fifty, hey - thirty - years ago, if I suddenly found myself covered with purple spots with two limbs hanging off by threads, the most I could do would be to head to the doctors and trust in their medical knowledge. With the internet, I can Google a headache and find out within seconds that I COULD be suffering from a brain tumor, an aneurysm or bacterial meningitis. Peachy.

Before I get into my long journey with health anxiety/panic disorder/ "maybe it's some kind of OCD" (thank you, psychiatric community), I need to explain what finally prompted me to create this blog. As I said, the internet is a dangerous place for us cracked nuts and it has been a rare and reassuring moment that I've come upon a blog, message board or medical web site that offered some compassion, had someone write "It's OK. I've had this too. And I'm still here." Look, no one knows what tomorrow will bring - I could get run over by a tractor trailer, a meteor could fall from the sky, or I could be bitten by an ultra-poisonous spider unknown as yet to scientists in my state, but THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY OF FORESEEING OR CONTROLLING THE FUTURE and that is something I am finally beginning to accept.

What I can do is share what I've been through in the hopes that it will help someone who has been holed up in a room, staring at his or her laptop for hours with debilitating fear, actually go out and live a life instead of worrying obsessively about if that mole was there yesterday or if that twitch in the right shoulder is a sure harbinger of doom.

1 comment:

  1. It was great to read your story. From a fellow cracked health nut, it's somehow comforting to know that there are others out there to commiserate with.

    I've tried to pin point a time when this happened to me, and I swear it goes back to my early teen years. I remember begging my mom to take me to the doctor's because I was absolutely convinced that I had a brain tumor. Thirty years later, no brain tumor (at least I don't think so, but it could happen at any moment, right?)

    I too would spend hours searching the internet, trying to explain that little ache, those pains, knowing for sure it was something terminal and I would be dead soon. Then, this strange "thing" took a bizarre twist. I'm not sure exactly when it happened or why, but about five or six years ago I did everything possible to AVOID going to the doctor, read something about an illness, and even quickly change the channel on the TV when an ad for some prescription drug came on. If I just avoid it, it will go away, right?? Wrong. I know this. I'm an educated, intelligent woman, and I know that being proactive and preventative medicine is the best thing. I just recently found the courage to look up this illness, this phobia, and discovered it has a name – latrophobia. Great – I guess I can put a label on it now.

    I've managed to keep all of this from my closest friends and even my family. My husband has recently been questioning me as to when I last went to the doctor, why I won't go, etc. He's a wonderful man, but at times not the most patient or understanding of mental health issues. I wanted for so long to tell him about my paralyzing fear and ask him to help me, but I just couldn’t do it. Until the other day. After coming down with a wretched cold/flu a week ago (apparently all of the hand sanitizer and spraying down the door handles isn’t foolproof ) I now have a horrible sinus infection. I finally realize that it isn’t going away on its own and the time has finally come to go to the doctor. I sat my husband down last night and through gallons of tears, shared with him the debilitating anxiety I have been living with for years. To my surprise, he didn’t laugh, he didn’t call me a freak, and he didn’t run out of the room. Instead, he held me and said he would try to help me through this. I know he can’t completely understand, but his empathy meant the world to me. So, he’s going to call today and make an appointment for tomorrow. I can’t begin to explain the absolute terror I am feeling about it. I know for certain I’ll probably have some sort of panic attack in the waiting room or something. Then what? I just don’t know.

    I know I’ve gone on way too long here. But, let me extend to you Cracked Health Nut, the utmost gratitude for creating this blog. Just writing this is a first step in what I hope will be a not so long journey to becoming “normal” again, whatever normal is. I don’t know if you’ve sought therapy, but I’m thinking of going that route myself. Hang in there, and I look forward to reading your blogs.