How Being a Slight Hypochondriac Has Benefited Me

Doctor holding down woman's tongue with tongue depressor
Doctor holding down woman's tongue with tongue depressor

I just got home from seeing the movie, Miracles from Heaven. If you're not familiar with the movie, it's based on a true story of a 10-year-old girl who had a life-threatening illness. The disease paralyzed her digestive system and as a result, not only was she unable to eat food (and had to be tube fed), she had constant bloating and abdominal pain. Unfortunately, I know someone in my own life with the very same disease. So I know for a fact that it can kill you, or at very least, make your life downright unbearable at times.

The story has a miraculous ending. The girl was literally dying, and then one day, she falls 30 feet into a rotting tree in her back yard and hits her head. And somehow, some way, the fall cured her. The doctors couldn't really explain it other than perhaps she just hit her head in the exact right place so that it "re-set" her central nervous system. But religious and spiritual people would simply say it was a miracle.

I almost didn't go see the movie. Although the story turns out to have a miraculous ending, I still wasn't sure if it would freak me out and make me wonder if someone else I know (or myself) got this - or some other disease.

I don't like to admit it, but I can be a bit of hypochondriac. This may come as a surprise to people who know me, because I am always preaching positive thinking and ways to make your life better. But having hypochondriac tendencies like I do is both a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, it can drive me crazy thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong health-wise. And it doesn't help that I have a family history of heart problems - and one of my best friends is a cardiac nurse. You would think that is a good thing, but she frequently tells me about the patients that she takes care of, and how many of them die. And that freaks me out. But, on the positive side, she also educates me about certain signs and symptoms that should be taken seriously, and which ones can be ignored. For example, she sometimes has people come to her hospital with chest pain, especially after an accident. Obviously people think they are having a heart attack, but there can be other causes. Whether it's chest pain, irregular heartbeats, or a racing heart (which I just had recently), she helps calm my nerves when my hypochondriac personality rears its ugly head.

I can't tell you how many other "weird" symptoms I've experienced in my life. They are definitely not limited to my heart. They range from thinking I'm having a stroke, a blood clot, brain tumor, cancer, oh...and the list goes on. So yes, as I said, I'm a bit of a hypochondriac.

But being a hypochondriac has actually benefited me quite a bit. I know it's sounds strange, but let me explain. First, it has made me very aware and in tune with my body. I am hyper-aware of any little teeny tiny change that I feel. I know a lot of people who have had major health problems going on, but they either ignore the signs or simply don't notice them. And then sometimes it's too late to fix the problem.

Second, it has caused me to do my research. Not only do I do reading about all my so-called "symptoms," but I also find some nutrition or supplemental alternatives which seemed to have helped me. From taking chlorella to learning about the little-known enzyme serrapeptase, I have learned a lot. In fact, I have learned so much from being a hypochondriac that sometimes I feel like a "real" doctor when I tell my friends and family what I have learned (and they look at me with "deer in the headlights" look). But of course, you shouldn't start taking anything or diagnosing yourself without actually seeing your own doctor. I'm just saying that my curiosity has led me to greater knowledge.

Finally, being a hypochondriac has made me appreciate my health (and life) more than most people. In other words, I don't take my health for granted. Every day that I wake up with no aches or pains, or no bizarre symptoms that I need to research, I am grateful. I know too many people my age or younger who are dealing with some very challenging health problems. So I am thankful every day that I am not one of them (or my loved ones).

I frequently write about trying to re-frame your life into something positive. While being a hypochondriac might drive me crazy sometimes, it also had made me grow as a person. So, I am choosing to see it as a blessing, not a curse.