In Part 1 of this article, I speculated on the causes of my hypochondria. I traced the symptoms of anxiety back to the results of numerous breast procedures (which had positive outcomes).
I used to visit doctors a lot for one reason or another and I remember a few relatives and friends making comments like, “another doctor visit?” I remember thinking that if I thought I had a health problem, shouldn’t I see a doctor? I was getting the feeling that people thought I was going too much. I didn’t feel like I was a hypochondriac back then, but I noticed that some people who never visited a doctor had a kind of bragging attitude about their lack of visits.
I can’t say exactly when the hypochondria started creeping up on me, because that’s what happened, it crept up, and was kind of easy to dismiss and even joke about. It was probably several years ago.
I remember going in for check-ups and asking the doctor, or nurse practioner, if she or he thought I had a disease. They would pause a moment with a surprised look, and then gave an explanation. They would end up reassuring me that I didn’t have that disease, but if I really found it necessary to be tested, they could oblige. I would usually say no to the test, and go away, somewhat reassured. The fact is, I really felt that I didn’t have to ask the disease question, but at the same time I felt compelled to. It was all anxiety based.
There were times when I would discuss particular worries about my health with family or friends (but not often in fear of embarrassment), and listen to their reassurances and sometimes, laughter. If any of them ever said, “you should check that out," I would immediately feel that tight, anxious sensation and spend hours thinking about it.
Now, here's the strange part. Someone who says you should have "that checked out," is trying to help you by suggesting that you see a doctor. That person has good intentions, and you should feel grateful. Instead, in my case, I felt distress.