Getting Past Health Anxiety: A Survivor's Guide

Getting Past Health Anxiety: A Survivor's Guide
by Kaelan Brightmoor Aug, 4 2023

Recognising the Symphony of Symptoms

Allow me to take you on a journey, one that winds through the labyrinthine pathways of anxiety's territory. The door into this territory is often the body's unexplained apparent distress signals. From a sudden gripping chest pain to a persistently pulsating migraine, from a recurring bout of nausea to an inexplicable tingling in your fingers and toes, anxiety disguises itself in variegated ways. What seems like a severe heart ailment might just be your brain's overly creative mode. Trust me, I've been there.

Unraveling the mystery of these bodily symptoms had been like chasing my own tail for me, round and round in circles, with no end or relief in sight. The more I'd brood on Google, browsing through every possible heart, brain, and stomach disease, the more my panic would accelerate. And, little did I know, that the panic was the real culprit here, not my heart or brain or stomach!

The Mind-Body Tangle

Health anxiety, my friends, is a tough beast to slay. It makes you hostages within your own bodies, and armors itself in a seemingly impenetrable shell of physical symptoms. But let's slow down and think this through, shall we? Is it plausible that thinking about a disease could breed its symptoms? And what if I told you that this power of thought over our bodies isn't just plausible but also scientifically supported?

The mind and body are inseparable. In fact, the mind IS the body. Every time your thoughts churn into a whirlpool of worries, your body secretes stress chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline. These chemicals, in the right doses, are your body's trusted soldiers. But they turn into traitors when pumped continuously into your bloodstream. Through a cascade of reactions, they trigger the very symptoms that you dread. Think of a misplaced smoke alarm that blasts off even when you just light an incense stick. That's pretty much what your body acts like when you're anxious.

The Power of Knowledge

No, I'm not going to ask you to delve into every single science journal and medical paper until you become a walking, talking WebMD. Far from it. See, Amara took my arm and dragged me to a therapist before my hypochondria had turned me into a hollowed-out version of myself. She was my lifebuoy, really.

What I gained in therapy was the knowledge of what was happening within me, not intricate details of a thousand different diseases. I realized that my mind was speaking fluently in a language that my body understood too well. And it was time to rewrite the discourse. So, before you go down the rabbit hole of medical diagnoses and start advocating your imminent doom, take a moment to connect with the mind behind the symptoms.

Managing Symptoms: A Toolbox for Self-Care

Managing Health Anxiety is more than just popping pills. It's about learning to engage with your anxiety in a healthier, more productive way. The process takes time, patience, resilience, and above all else, a toolbox for self-care. This toolbox may look different for everyone, but there are a few universal tools that seem to benefit most.

The first tool in our self-care box is acceptance. Stop fighting your anxiety, and instead accept it. By doing so, you're not admitting defeat, but rather choosing to perceive it as a part of you that seeks your attention. Practice this acceptance daily and you’ll start to find your mind easing up in the most unexpected ways.

Conclusion: Your Story has Not Ended

We live in a culture that talks about 'overcoming' or 'defeating' the demons within us. But, as Amara had once pointed out, 'Maybe the point is not to vanquish them but to understand them.' Health anxiety is not a life sentence. It's a part of your story. Sure, it's a chapter that feels heavy right now. But what if this chapter turns out to be the one that makes your story more compelling, more resilient, more human?

Your journey with health anxiety, as turbulent as it might have been until now, is another lesson life has handed you. Don't map out a linear track of progress. Allow yourself the highs and lows, the triumph and relapses, the ebb and flow of being human. Just remember, this is just one chapter in your story. You've got an entire book ahead of you. Keep turning the pages, keep writing, because your story has not ended yet. Once a survivor, always a survivor!