Since December 2008, every single day has been my last on Earth.
Hello. My name is Morgan. I am 23 years old. And I am a hypochondriac.
I know you're interested, why wouldn't you be, so let me start at the beginning. The very beginning. From a very young age, I had an inexplicable need to appease everyone. To keep people content and happy. Sadly this lofty goal was largely hindered due to my frequent tendencies towards (or at least being made to feel like I was) putting my foot in my mouth and acting impulsively/compulsively. These incidences were always met with raised eyebrows, snickers and “oookaaay”s, from my peers that would immediately take the wind out of my sails and suck any and all joy and confidence from the moment. I'm sure it didn't help (and I love her to death but it can't be ignored) that my mother's idea of praise and encouragement when I presented her with most any accomplishment was “That's wonderful, sweety-pie!...now what are you going to do about this?” and (again, love him, but) my father's idea of such things was a distracted and half-hearted attempt at interest.
From this I learned that anything short of absolute perfection was unacceptable and that to make a mistake would result in swift and unrelenting humiliation, either from peers or self-inflicted. My words and actions became more and more hestitant until I eventually learned not to speak or act at all. I was silent unless spoken too and rarely took intiative (which is far from an asset when you hit the working world). This behaviour would cause an equal amount of raised eyebrows, snickers and “oookaaaay”s.
It was around that time that physical symptoms of anxiety began to present themselves. Fatigue and stomach upset (which graduated into IBS, resulting in daily diarrhea, yah!...too much sharing?) An underlying feeling of uneasiness began to permeate everything I did. And if I ever found myself to be the centre of attention I became a deer in the head lights and a full fledged anxiety attack would occur. When this first happened I was utterly certain I was ill, and I maintained with a wail to my mother as I sobbed with a bag in my lap to vomit into, it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that I had to get up in front of a mall full of people to sing Christmas carols. Not at all...nope...well...maybe...
Fine, so I had anxiety.
Then one day, while at the cottage my brother caught the flu. He was lethargic, weak, and drinking enough liquids to drown an elephant, though that was fine because he was urinating just as much. Being a reader of Baby Sitter's Club books, a fact that my siblings (one brother, one sister, both older) enjoyed mocking me for, I recognized these symptoms. I joked that my brother didn't have the flu – he had Diabetes. We laughed. What fun.
When we got back home, he went to the doctor, had blood tests performed, and went to work. That night, our doctor called. I was the only one home. He was loathe to give me any information but then told me, “You are old enough and a smart girl. Your brother's blood sugar levels are high. This may mean he has Diabetes. He needs to go to the hospital.”
Ooookaaay...won't panic...won't panic. What to do? Pass off panic to my mother. Called her, and my brother was picked up from work and taken to the emergency room where it was established that yes - he has Diabetes. We laughed. What fun. (Sarcasm much?)
So, the serious shit can happen to people I love. So...this shit can happen to me. From then on, I became “health aware”. Palpatations and shortness of breath began.
At this point my anxiety had progressed into repression. I had learned to hold a conversation, but the moment an interaction with someone turned serious or (God forbid) a conflict emerged, I fled. I had the social skills of an eight year old with no clue how to properly assert myself.
Several years after my brother's diagnosis, he fell ill again. Just the flu, right? Still having vomit episodes a month later? Maybe the flu... Two months later? Maybe not... He was diagnosed with Addison's disease. But still he vomited and would complain of low blood pressure. My father also has Addison's disease with which he was diagnosed as a teenager and his own horrific tale to go along with that. (During my life he has gone into adrenal crisis a handful of times, each time most unpleasant.) Now all throughout my brother's second bout of illness fun, my mother questioned, wouldn't it make sense that he be on the same medication as his father, who has the same disease? It only took another year or so for doctors to finally catch on to this nifty notion and low and behold the stomach issues ceased when his medication was switched.
Okay, good. So now all we have to deal with is his unexpected drops in blood sugar levels that occur to this day. (My brother was practically heroic when he was going through everything, but now his way of dealing is to never acknowedge the fact that he has two chronic illnesses, and continues to eat sugary treats, sleeps all day, and stays up all night escaping into the World of Warcraft).
Now what had begun as simple (yeah, right) social anxiety had branched into phobias. I've gone through several since about the age of 15. They come out of the blue and generally last about a year and a half. One such example would be my fear of tornadoes. Don't remember exactly when it started, but all I knew was that I was destined to suffer through a tornado. I checked the weather on the internet several times daily, and if there were thunderstorms upcoming, my day was ruined. When a thunderstorm actually occured, I was in my basement or breathing through heavy anxiety. Otherwise, it could be a clear blue day, sun shining, a few white fluffly clouds in the sky. That didn't matter. I was convinced that just below the houses and hills, there were dark storm clouds brewing, ready to bring a tornado smack dab into my house. This, combined with the regular hum of paranoia of death and destruction befalling myself or my loved ones, is never a fun mix.
By the grace of God this went on for a year and vanished as quickly as it came. Since then I've had other fears that have come and gone in a similar fashion. Thus manifisted the perpetually sore shoulders and siezing back muscles.
This brings me to the almost present. I'd gone through a rough few years, going to school, working at jobs I detested, moving from my childhood home to the big city with my dad (my parents are seperated). My dad had gone into adrenal crisis one night and I was the only one there to get him to a hospital, which became me driving with him to the hospital as I don't drive and he refused to let me call an ambulance. We moved several times more in the space of a few years due to shit hole apartments and shittier neighbours. This resulted in me staying with my mother back in my old home town and commuting a great distance to work in the city. My uncle died of stomach cancer, my sister had cervical issues which fortunately ended up being nothing. I was working 9 hour night shifts, traveling to and from work by a two hour bus ride both ways. Ibut I thought I was content. I finally was relatively comfortable where I worked and where I lived.
A week or so before my birthday I began to feel the beginnings of a cold coming on. Runny nose, scratchy throat. I noticed a heavy fatigue, heavier than I'd felt before, but I chalked it up to the night shifts, the commute and the fact that I was on my period combined with the cold. This ebbed and flowed for about a week until it seemed to be going away. Then, one night after dinner my stomach rumbled. At first this seemed to be my regular IBS. When I wasn't able to hold it in (too much info?) while I waited or the bathroom to be free, I thought perhaps something more sinister was at work. When I got to the toilet, my bowels emptied explosively and continued to do so for several hours. I felt nauseous, but didn't throw up. I did however have a burning throat from what I assumed was acid reflux. When the expulsion began to subside I felt weak and exhausted. Alarm bells were going off in my head. I just got over an illness, or so I thought. I wasn't around anyone who had any sickness and it didn't seem I had given it to anyone. Clearly, I needed to be hospitalized immediately. My mother managed to get my feet back on the ground for the time being telling me no, shit happens, relax. So I went to bed that night hoping to feel better in the morning. Alas, I woke feeling worse. Weak and foggy headed of the likes I'd never known. Stayed home from work that night. Tried working the next two nights and began having nose bleeds, the reflux being so bad. I decided to take initiative and take myself to a clinic. They said I had a viral infection, but prescribed me anti-biotics which evidently is for bacterial infections so I still don't get that one. My mother convinced me my stomach would explode if I took them so I only took two and couldn't bring myself to take anymore. Went to my family doctor, was told it was a viral infection and that these things take time to clear up, and I needed sleep and to give my stomach a rest with a strictly fluid diet. He gave me something for the reflux and sent me on my way. At this point I had basically ceased eating anything, couldn't sleep more than a couple of hours at a time and had stopped going to work. I had also began studying for my Google medical degree and had visions of tumors and organ failure dancing in my head. I was in prime position for a melt down. Melt down commence. I continued to feel like shit. I had stretched my five days of a liquid diet into two weeks. I had ceased all unneccessary movement. I was only sleeping in fits and starts througout the day, never at night. And my persuit of my Google medical degree had become an obsession. I cried daily, certain I was going to die or at least suffer greatly. I visited my doctor more times in three months and had more tests performed on me than I probably had my entire life. Everything came back normal or at least nothing provided an answer. I convinced my father to take me to the E.R. at one point, and had tests done that my doctor had already done. The doctor on duty told me my blood work was 'pristine'.
All this good news washed right off my back. I was dying and there was nothing else for it. A few things did pop up here and there in the tests. One revealed that I had a small hiatus hernia, which I had read about on the internet. My doctor insisted most of the population probably has one to some degree and half of them don't even and won't ever know it. But no, my Google education had informed me that those with hiatus hernias lived miserable existences of pain, nausea, and burning reflux. My doctor began to wonder if I wasn't become a bit distraught over all this. He recommened an anti-anxiety pill. I tried, I developed derealization and a belief I was becoming scizophrenic, which continues to this day, I freaked out, I stopped. He prescribed an anti-depressant. I tried one, dry heaved, my eyes bugged out and I spent the night sitting up, lying down, sitting up, lying down, sit-...you get the idea. I had a psychiatric evaluation which determined that, no I did not have scizophrenia, but I have anxiety and depression. O, rly?
The only thing turned up in my blood work was a positive result for the Epstein Barr Virus, the virus that causes Mono. My doctor said this was it, this was the answer to all my ills. He explained that it would get better. Might take a very long time, up to a year/year and a half. But no. My Google education had already informed me that people who were diagnosed with the Epstein Barr Virus had epic sore throats and stuffed noses and aches and pains. It informed me that people who were diagnosed with the virus, and who also tested negative for Mono, which I had, lived horrible half-lives with Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and other illnesses that most doctors don't even believe exist. This wasn't good enough for me.
Currently, I still feel like death every day. I have persistent issues with blurred vision, exhaustion, weakness, stomach upset, aches and pains, twitches, a dream-like quality to everything I do, and depressive thoughts. At this very moment I'm battling nausea which will surely result in death. I go through several schools of thought daily. First I believe there is something seriously and myseriously wrong with me and that I'm going to have to get worse or die before its discovered, (MS being a new favourite). Else I believe it is something so simply like a sinus infection, or even something not so simple as Addison's disease that can easily be dealt with with medication. Other times I think its a horrible depression that will end in suicide, though I have no desire to die (clearly) but am convinced I won't be able to stop myself. Other times I think it is some precurser to a horrible insanity. What ever the case, it doesn't seem to be lifting.
Not for lack of trying. I was off work for four months when this started but am now back. Its a physical job so thats some physical activity in my daily routine. I take a vitamin daily. I had stopped eating solids, as I mentioned, for two weeks and for a good month or so after that I still wasn't eating anything substantial. And before any of this, my diet was horrible. I would eat fast food three meals a day and drink diet pop. Now I eat at home, lots of fruit and vegetables. I drink only water and milk. I take a multivitamin. I go for walks when I can. I go out with friends when I can which granted isn't often because I've somewhat developed agoraphobia, but I give it my best. I adopted a kitty to lift my mood. I moved back to the city with my dad to shorten my commute. I do deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxtion, I found a cognitive behavioural therapy course online, and I'm looking into one-on-one therapy. I've yet to feel an improvement. So hopefully I'll be around tomorrow.
I hope you enjoyed my post and aren't too depressed :D Are...are you still there?