.Maybe it's just part of being jewish. Growing up listening to old and young people kvetching--my knee! my neck! she has (whisper) CANCER, my back, oy vey.
My entry into hypochondria started young. I was a "sickly" kid, suffered from asthma and severe allergies. I spent most of my springtime blowing my nose, and gasping for air in and out of hospitals or doctor's offfices for allergy shots and breathing treatments. When it was springtime and the flowers started to bloom, instead of a celebration that the darkness of winter was over, I was heading to the doctor's office for my weekly allergy shots. I was hyper sensitive to well.. everything. Recently when I went to the allergist, he took a look at my results and said--"ok, you are allergic to everything. You need to move to the beach in a NEW HOUSE". Make that happen universe!! My best friend growing up who would accompany weekly ironically became a pediatrician herself.
I think I was given steroids and a whole host of other toxic medications from an early age. I was a stoic. You could poke, prod, needle me and I didn't react. I almost prided myself on this. I held in. I was frozen. No reaction. I had one hospital stay that stuck with me. I was having a severe asthma attack and there was no room for me in the hospital so they put me on the children's cancer ward. I remember distinctly walking through the hallways and creeping into the kids rooms seeing kids hooked up on ventilators, very very ill. I was in awe. What was happening? How was this happening? I spent the rest of my hospital stay locked in my room because I was a chicken pox threat. But the images stayed with me... I obsessed over them.
I poured over medical books, started reading stories of kids who battled cancer obsessively. I wanted to understand death. I wanted to understand why and how this happens to some people. How did they cope? Why are some sick and others well? I had a wonderful doctor growing up. He was an Israeli man who was progressive and kind. He later even studied acupuncture and hypnosis. He was safe and later (in my twenties) I realized he was one of the sexiest men EVER. I couldn't stand to be in the same room as him. He humored me when I came into his office and listed off the types of cancers I thought I had. Brain tumor ( I had to walk a straight line and put my fingers to my nose)., leukemia, vaginal cancer and I even became hysterical when I noticed hair in the sink but it turned out to be hair from my makeup brush. I was 8-9-10-12 years old when this was going on and it would happen in spurts. The crazy thing (not so crazy in the 70's and 80's) is that it didn't occur to anyone that there was something deeper, emotional going on. Hypochondria is grief, sadness, fear that has been unexpressed. It's a distraction from a deeper hunger, and unspoken feelings. So, on I went and the wheel of symptoms continued. There were some fucked up things happening in my childhood-abandonment, sex addiction, physical/emotional abuse and financial struggles and serious narcississm. There were wonderful things too-humor, love, exposure to different cultures, art, movies, fun, etc There was an armoring of my heart and my feelings. There was extreme perfectionism and learning challenges I think that fueled and created anxiety. There was a lack of warmth and nurturing despite the fact I had most of my needs met, and an uncontained abusive dynamic going on at my father's house. There was abandonment. There were my real health issues. There was a lot to process especially for an HSP (highly sensitive person) like myself whose nervous system was literally picking up on everything.
The wheel of symptoms would come in spurts then fade away and I would go about my life having fun, being studious etc. In my twenties HIV was a big terror and obsession. That one stayed on for years especially around allowing myself pleasure and happiness. It's almost as if I had an internalized sadist that had to come in and ruin the fun as if to say, watch out, don't have TOO much fun. You're not entitled to too much fun. You need to suffer. I memorized suffering from an early age. I memorized fear. I memorized performance anxiety. I had fun too, I know I am painting a bleak picture.
I was happy, free and not very anxious once I no longer had to deal with academic pressure after college was over but I was still battling the end of an untreated eating disorder (anorexia and compulsive overexercising). I put a lot of strain on my body with all of this stress. I worked, I struggled financially, I had fun, I did stupid things, experimented with drugs, liked adventure, and was pretty carefree. I didn't know what my purpose was at the time. Hypochondria was on the back burner. But I still had some deep internal need to be fixed or rescued because I am guessing unconsciously I felt broken. I am not broken and I never was. Neither are you. It was recently that I had a dream, It wasn't about me but it was about a woman who had a vagina on her sacrum, root chakra-the chakra of survival. The muladhara is located near the end of the spinal column. This is the seat of kundalini. and is responsible for your sense of safety and security on this earthly journey. The dream was about this girl who kept saying I know I look normal but there is something about me you don't know. Something deformed, something wrong. No one can see it but it is there. I have a black box where my sacrum is, my vagina is not where it should be, it's in my root chakra. I think this was a symbolic dream about my unconscious feeling that there is something wrong, something hidden that other's can't see. It's interesting that it came weeks before my kundalini awakening as if my body was preparing to purge itself of this old tape, this old story.
It was only after my chronic pain abated that the hypochondria came back because I think I was stuffing down things I didn't want to look at. I became convinced I had ALS because of my constant twitching. I now know that a lot of that was my previous benzo usage. I think the benzos on top of an already dysregulated nervous system just weren't a good mix. The wave of hypochondria would come in, then wash away and I would be good again for another 6-12 mos....Benzos were in here and now I see they played a major role in aggravating things. But I failed to looker deeper into my soul. To tell the truth and grieve. 8 8 years of chronic pain, various heartbreaks left my heart and body shattered. My heart was closed. I was worn out and tired by the time I was 33. Worn down. Done .The medical trauma I endured was intense and relentless. When I got into a remission it was like being let out of prison after a long jail sentence but still feeling the shackles around your ankles. I was not yet truly free.
Someone who found themselves accidentally dependent and suffered an iatrogenic injury from medications that were prescribed. Sharing experience, strength and hope with others. This is written as a person on this winding path and NOT as a professional. Please contact a licensed professional for any medical/psychological care or advice. This is NOT a substitute for medical or psychological care. What is written here reflects my own personal experience ONLY.