I’ve known since I was very young that the mind can make you believe things about your body that just aren’t true.
For a while people called me a hypochondriac. It’s a word I always hated, the actual meaning when written down seems simple enough and somewhat true. When people call you that word though it’s never with understanding. It’s meaning has been twisted to mean someone that is creating drama around illness for attention.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are people who fake illnesses for attention.
That’s not what this was though.
My brain just could not switch off from the idea that I had one illness or another. I would be perfectly fine, for months and then suddenly one day I would wake up, or my brain would simply spring on me the idea that I had some terrible disease.
As an adult, after being called a hypochondriac, being told I’m over reacting, coupled with the fact that I don’t like visiting the doctor. I tend to be able to quiet those voices now and push them to a louder part of my brain or ignore them.
To my eight year old brain though the idea that I could have ink poisoning was very real and very terrifying. After all I had just read all about ink poisoning in a story, the main characters uncle was dying from it. I knew what the signs and the symptoms were. The only thing I remember was something about the blueness of your veins and checking them again and again. Silently panicking when thy were too blue.
Remember this was way before the internet and the ability to Google.
There was also the time I was lay on the floor and my stomach rumbled or made an odd noise and I convinced myself I was pregnant. Terrified 8/9 year old me worried for days until I finally spoke to my mother.
There was the time I found the extra whole between where the pee and poop comes out and worried that an extra hole had formed in my body. I was terrified again and after twenty minutes in the bathroom I finally spoke to my mum.
In each case my brain lept straight to the worst conclusion and then wouldn’t let go of said conclusion. Even after I’d spoken to my mum.
I’ve been worried I’ve had everything from Tetenas to TB. From Arse cancer to aids.
I’ve done some down right embarrassing things because I’ve been worried.
I’m no where near as bad as I was when I was a child. Not when it comes to illness but I think that’s because when it creeps up on me I internalise it. I bury my worry inside myself and try not to let the voices reach a crescendo. I tell myself over and over that it’s the simplest explanation. I google to find the least life threatening and worrying reason for symptoms. Then I worry that any further problems are psychosomatic.
If I have a headache, coupled with a few other symptoms, my brain will try over and over to attach itself to the idea that I have some life threatening illness, lord knows how I do it but I manage to quell the anxiety around that, squash those voices and repeat over and over that it’s just a headache. Or that it’s just stress.
To better illustrate the ridiculousness of my brain I could also talk about that time I ran back in the house convinced I heard a dinosaur (I was in Highschool) but that’s content for another post.
No one needs to tell me how ridiculous my brain is, I live with it. No one needs to remind me over and over that maybe it’s just in my head because I live with that question constantly.
How then do I know if something’s real? How do I know if my itch is just a result of my brain doing it’s thing or an actual symptom (I have Eczema not an STD just to clarify). How do I know if that ache, is an ache or just something my brain cooked up? How do I know what’s real? How do I know, I mean really know what is a real symptom and what is simply psychosomatic?
This worry, these questions are not helped by the fact I hate going to the doctor. I hate sitting in the waiting room with the other sick people. With the children being too loud, the coughing that seems to vibrate in my own chest and around my skull. The smells. The snot, the germs, the unseen illnesses that are just like in wait.
I hate sitting in the doctors room. I hate feeling like a fraud, I hate feeling like I’m being judged. I hate feeling that I’m not worth the time. I hate feeling that they could be dealing with something more important. I hate feeling like they’re not listening.
I hate having to make another appointment.
Most of all I hate that I still haven’t really talked with anyone at great length (aside from on here) about how fucked up my brain is. I hate that I can’t seem to convey how much this thing keeps grasping hold of my life. I hate that I can’t straight up to say sometimes it feels like a crowded lecture theatre in my head. I hate that it doesn’t switch off. Sometimes I just want the quiet.
Most of all though. I hate not being able to be sure of myself. I hate having to second guess myself.
I hate thinking about memories and wondering if I dreamt them, if they’re false or real? I hate feeling things and wondering if that’s real or I just feel it because I heard it once. I hate feeling physical things and trying to figure out if their real.
Sometimes my brain is like a maze of what ifs, every what if leads to another maze and another what if until I end up lost and dizzy.
You think reading this was exhausting? Hard to keep up with? Try having that in your head all the time.