Hello, fellow members!
This has been a long road, but I now feel as though I can post about my success and confidently call it that! I hope something I write here can help someone else. (:
As some of you may know from reading earlier posts of mine, my hypochondria kicked in in February of this year when I pulled a muscle. I'd been having anxiety issues for a bit over a year before that, which were dragging me down without my realizing. When my muscle became injured, of course, my mind spiraled out of control imagining what could really
be wrong with me because that explanation seemed too simple. I refused to accept it and fell into depression as well. One seemed to feed off the other and some days, I can't remember at all. The whole time seems like a shadowy blur to me.
So how did I get out? The one very important thing I learned from this is that you have to want
to get better more than anything. It's easy to simply keep worrying, to google symptoms and seek reassurance and let the worries take you over. There has to be a moment where you get up and decide you won't accept it any longer, and no one can do this for you. It'll be hard at first, to get back out into public, to attempt yoga or exercise even though you're hurting- yes, it's very difficult and frightening, especially if it only seems to worsen your pain. I understand. When I first started taking walks again, my injured muscle would cramp and make me want to give up, to go back to bed and just live with it, but you have to push through those moments and be strong. There will be days that seem easy, where your mood is better and you think you can make it, but sometimes dark days follow and it feels twice as bad to fall back into that hole again. It's a constant mental battle.
Therefore; tip #1
- Be determined to get better, and even when you fall, pick yourself back up!
There were two times that I knew I was getting better. The first was a convention that forced me to be around big crowds and stay on my feet all day. If you've never had an injured abdominal muscle, firstly you're lucky and secondly, I can tell you it makes holding your torso upright difficult. I had this unreasonable fear that whatever was so horribly wrong with my body would strike while I was in that crowd and take me under. However, I survived that long weekend, nothing went wrong, and it was massively reassuring. The point to that is to force yourself back out there, even when it's scary and you expect the worst. The things you can imagine are usually much worse than reality!
The second time was Easter weekend. This was a huge turning point for me. I was still dealing with pains, though they weren't nearly as frightening as before and were going away. I was growing stronger mentally and it allowed me to overcome my physical woes. I was still struggling but determined to make it on my own. Around this time, I met a man named James, who offered me support, reassurance, and understanding like I'd never experienced. We developed a friendship that grew strong by Easter, stirring a happiness in me that I hadn't felt in a very long time. I believe I would have eventually healed on my own, but this man reached into that dark place and pulled me out. He has made me a stronger person because of his nature and I hope he knows that I will never forget the way he was there for me. He learned the worst about me, all my fears and insecurities, and turned around and said "it's okay", which is a powerful thing to hear. I never needed him to fix me, he was and remains a teammate in this battle, which we all need!
So, tip #2
is find someone that can support you, someone who will understand what you're going through and not judge you. I know a lot of us have families and friends that find it easy to say "it's all in your head" but we know differently. People without anxiety or hypochondria don't get it completely.
Anyway, since James came into my life, it's been a steady improvement on my physical well-being. He became my boyfriend and his companionship gave me the inspiration to become the best I could be. I've found the drive to begin working out regularly again, to get back on my diet, and best of all, to have a future to look forward to. All these things feed on one another, so when you make one positive change, others occur. The exercise will once again strengthen the muscle and the twinges that I rarely feel now will disappear with time. (:Tip #3
would be to get out of your room and away from your computer! I spent plenty of hours reading threads on here, learning more than I wanted to know about symptoms, and it didn't help me much at all. Any reassurance was fleeting and only led to other worries. If it wasn't fear #1, I'd leap to fear #2 and lo and behold, those symptoms would appear! Go outside for some sun, get some exercise! Anxiety can wear down your mind and leave you in a fog but I find when I exercise, my mind is sharp again and my mood is better. Sometimes, I admit, I don't feel like it and have to drag myself to start but by the end, I always feel better.Tip #4
is the biggest of them all, which most here already know. Don't google your symptoms!
This is a terrible idea and you'll find that any symptom can lead you to something much more malicious than it really is. If you absolutely must have some reassurance, use the search feature on this website for your symptoms. Often, you'll find that others have experienced the same thing and it turned out to only be anxiety related. Don't rely on these moments of reassurance, though! You must take the greater steps to ensure that you get better and stop seeking it. Feeding your fears will only keep them growing!Tip #5
- Buy some books. You can easily find used books for cheap online if you don't have much spare cash. I bought two and took to highlighting anything inside that was reassuring. When I started to worry, I'd crack open a book and re-read these little reminders.Tip #6
- Learn a new skill or find hobbies! I learned to sew and started working with felt. While I concentrated on not poking the heck out of my fingers, I thought nothing of my physical symptoms and they vanished while I worked. Knowing they came and went helped me to be more certain that they were anxiety related, and to eventually begin writing them off. Once you take the power away from your aches, they vanish within time. It does take practice, I know, but it works!
Please remember that whatever you are going through will only last as long as you allow it. Once I got pro-active about changing things, they did
change. I realize some things cannot be helped, like if you have really been diagnosed with something, but if your doctor clears you, trust it! They're trained professionals, google (and god forbid, ya/hoo answers), are not!
There was a time when I genuinely thought I would never be myself again; full of laughs and light-hearted jokes, having a normal day without worrying. That thought was one of the worst parts- that this was forever. But it is not forever! None of you are weak; you struggle and fight every single day against your own minds! You can all pull out of this, whether on your own or with the help of a therapist or medication. I hope you all manage to find the light again, as I have.