Growing Pains Created A Hypochondriac: Cure It With Laughter

Being a successful career woman is about knowing when to react and when to control your reactions, because that is power. Whether it's biting your tongue, stroking an ego because your job depends on it (like mine did) or telling yourself to calm down and just be free of fear.
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I've been a work horse since age 12, I sold popsicles for .25 cents at school then answered phones at a dance studio for free classes. After college, a twelve hour day was routine. Working in live television, nothing is easy, you have to worry about telling a fair, accurate story while acknowledging a ticking clock, chaos around you in the streets and one wrong word costing me my job or a lawsuit. The stress level was enough to cause a few budding wounds in my stomach. That diagnoses was real, it was mounting acid in my stomach from living off of coffee by day and cocktails at night to de-stress.

The more stress I had, the more symptoms appeared. It was no surprise that I joined the insomniacs club by age 21, at that time, I was easily going four days at a time without a wink of sleep, I was the original walking dead.

It's also around the time I got breast implants. I know, they look so perfect and real. But not the case, I'm full of saline. Mounting anxiety from never going under the knife made my head implode when I woke up from the surgery, but at least it was my brain and not my boobs. I remember my mom driving me home from the hospital and I was rapidly sipping small spirts of air, in-between vomiting in the car. I was convinced I couldn't breathe. I kept saying, "they're too big, my boobs are crushing my lungs, I'm suffocating." Needless to say, I was a born actor, dramatic at all times.

There I was in urgent care, pressing the red emergency help button every few seconds for more pain killer juice. My loving mom kept a smile on even though a nurse pulled her aside saying, "listen, I'm sorry your daughter is having a tough time with her boob job, but people are dying in this ward, she needs to lay off the call button." Yikes. That happened.

I spent much of my life unnecessarily worrying over my health, spending hours on WebMD, and the mayo clinic self-diagnosing every little bump, bruise, lump or ache. When I focused on my health it diverted my attention from real issues. I was drowning in stress, being young in a big, scary, man's world of journalism news, being hit on by every boss, manager, agent and stalker while trying to figure out the woman I was.

I was outspoken but still shy around men. I spoke into a mic each night, but could never properly express how I was truly feeling to a man whether a co-worker, friend or love interest. I felt inferior. It was lack of confidence and fear of failing at my dreams that lead me to create fictitious health problems so I could fix them instead of my mindset. Hypochondriacs suffer from irrational thoughts based in fear not reality.

Just when I thought I'd grown out of my hypochondria, I was let go for the first time in my 14-year career as a TV field reporter. As my world shattered and the health coverage dissipated along with my fat cat salary I got sick. I endured chest pains that lingered for weeks. It hurt to breathe, I could barely workout. Talking to my dad, also a part-time hypochondriac he said, "Gosh honey it sounds like TB." Huh? "What's that, umm I gotta go." I hang up to Google Tuberculosis. I looked up the symptoms and OMG I had it, I had TB! In tears I left my friend's Malibu estate fleeing her butler pouring us Moscow mules to head to the ER, again. I storm in, telling the doc you must test me for TB and lung cancer because my aunt had cancer, and I had symptoms of both. I swear the doctor smirked at me, but she hide it well. She asked if I had left the country lately and why I thought I had TB. An hour later waiting, planning my funeral, how I'd tell my family, friends, the world, she says, "Negative, on both." I just recall, a slight moment of relief then asked for a second opinion.

Turns out, it was a month-long panic attack, from being "let-go." A career I sacrificed my life for, literally risking my life numerous times, forgoing a love life, and seeing my family, all to a career that spit me out because I was too opinionated. I grew confident but was punished for it. It was also the greatest lesson I needed to learn. My mind was running full-steam with no control, fear of pleasing everyone and being the best literally made me sick. I wasn't living, I was just getting by, allowing my reactive mind to dramatize every concern into a theatrical performance of doom.

Being a successful career woman is about knowing when to react and when to control your reactions, because that is power. Whether it's biting your tongue, stroking an ego because your job depends on it (like mine did) or telling yourself to calm down and just be free of fear. Fear, shackles women to just function at times on auto pilot. But we feel with such passion, and operate with such intensity it scares people, but that isn't our problem now is it.

If the clock ever turned back, I'd simply tell myself to laugh more. My prescription for stress would be smiling, finding the funny and turning doubt into Act-One titled, "Fearless Domination".

So when I tensed up, felt the power of self-doubt and worry consume me, I forced myself to ignore that voice. Overtime, Debbie-downer, and Wonda-Worrier stopped appearing. Now, you won't find me on the internet Googling symptoms but gently pushing everyone off their mind cliff to face fears, like I did, because that's when you're alive, free and able to laugh your stress away.

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