So this whole pandemic has been wild to say the least!
Recently I’ve become a bit obsessed with my health which has been… distracting.
I’ve been affectionately called a hypochondriac my whole life, worrying about germs. I once had a very strong crumb phobia as a child and struggled to sit in car seats in case there were crumbs underneath me. I also deeply feared putting my hands into pockets. The classic crumb hotspots.
One time when I was younger I smoked with someone who told me AFTER the said smoking, that they were unwell. I was just about to go on holiday, in two days but I figured it would be fine.
It was not fine.
I felt so sick and the pressure in my face when the plane landed felt like my eyeballs were moments from leaving their sockets. I can’t put the pain into words.
It wasn’t fun to have free time to go on holiday and relax, yet be unwell for the duration of it. And very afraid of repeating the eyeball ejection scenario on the plane ride home. I was scarred for life by this experience and would never, ever be anywhere near somebody who was sick before I went on holiday again.
If someone came in to work sick I would try my best to have them sent home. Lauren, if you’re reading this I’m sure you wanted to go home that night anyway.
It progressed into never being near someone who was sick at all. If someone didn’t immediately disclose they had a cough or a sore throat to me, I felt cheated and abused.
When someone made plans with me and got sick I would bail. I wouldn’t touch handrails in public. I took multivitamins religiously.
My good friend Gary would try to explain to me that I was doing myself a disservice by not building up immunity but I didn’t care. If I never got sick that would be much better in my opinion.
Oddly I would still feel hurt if someone wouldn’t share juice with me. I don’t have cooties.
Since I started having bad panic attacks I noticed that I really didn’t relate to certain elements like negative thought processes and the low self esteem parts, like thinking your friends hate you or worrying what people think of you. I overshare all the time.
I would get really angry if I was having a panic attack and someone asked me what I had been thinking about, or what brought it on. Literally nothing! It was like being an angst-y teenager who’s mum keeps asking what they’d done in school all day.
Recently with the corona virus this all seemed to get a lot worse. I had chest pain all day every day, pins and needles, chills, aches, weird brain pain etc.
I drank ice water and thought I was having an aneurysm, but it was just brain freeze.
It was so relentless I started to enjoy when I felt chest pain and stingy twinges in the right side of my chest because it felt comforting to know that next time it came on the left side, it wasn’t a heart attack.
I felt seriously mentally ill, I was awake reading magazines and watching Drag Race until 5am most nights, afraid to fall asleep in case I somehow died.
I’ve had a week long ECG and been assured by a doctor and a cardiologist that my heart is in medical terms “A-ok” and “NORMAL” (the caps locks were brought out when I kept emailing). I was also told to stay off Google.
Was I a hypochondriac? Have I been getting worse and worse? I searched online (against my doctor’s wishes) and found out that it’s a real thing and it’s now called health anxiety.
I made a virtual cognitive behavioral therapy appointment A.K.A. C.B.T. (I always think people are talking about cannabis when they say this, when my mum suggested I do it I was like ?? Joan what are you saying?)
Anyway we Zoom’ed I explained that sometimes I’d be standing in the kitchen cutting vegetables (my happy place), lying in bed watching TV or driving my car and suddenly feel like my heart had stopped beating and I was dying.
The therapist brought up panic disorder, which is where you have no negative thought processes or worries but physiological symptoms appear randomly out of nowhere with an impending sense of doom. Omg yes huni that is bang on the money.
It sounds a bit bleak and permanent. Whilst I’ve been writing this magazine for college it’s been unsettling to read how many mental illnesses only make themselves known in a person’s late twenties.
I thought if someone was unwell I’d notice by the time they were 16, 18, 21. It’s weird to think everyone you know is settled as a person at those ages and then find out that maybe they aren’t.
And more so to think that maybe the things you did as a teenager contributed to it. All the invincibility and the stress you put yourself under, and the things you didn’t cope with properly culminate, like old injuries that weren’t cared for coming back to haunt you permanently.
I’m fed up of breathing exercises and listening to Youtube video’s of ‘relaxing music’ with fucking watercolour dolphins. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with CBT.
My Mum is extremely keen for me to get hypnosis when the lockdown ends too. I’ll do anything at this point.
I started taking pregabalin again to see if that helps. So far I still have chest pain but now I don’t care. I was able to ride my bike for an hour today when normally I have to get off after 10 minutes. Take from that what you will.
Although I said I wouldn’t write any blog posts until I’d finished the magazine, I need to wait on my Mum making her dinner to get in to the kitchen right now and I need a break from Word documents. I hate this magazine by now.
If you have tried CBT, hypnosis or relate to any of the stuff I just said please let me know how it went for you, distractions from work are very welcome.