Living with Hypochondria as a Christian

Readers,

This is something I don’t really talk about that often. It’s really painful for me because I still live in this, to a certain extent. Today I’m going to be honest and write about my hypochondria.

But, first, let’s take a look at how the dictionary defines “hypochondria”:

abnormal anxiety about one’s health, especially with an unwarranted fear that one has a serious disease.

Last July, I began experiencing hypochondria. I remember the exact day it all began. My father had woken me up at 4 AM and told me that he thought he was having a heart attack. I sprang into action and waited with him, calming him while the ambulance came. At the hospital, we learned that it was simply a panic attack. This event happened two or three days after my brother was rushed into surgery for a life-threatening bone infection. Later that day, after waking up from a long nap, I began having back pain and I felt this overwhelming fear. Something whispered to me, “You’re having a heart attack.” I tried to shake it off so I went back to sleep. Immediately I felt panic rush over me. I could hardly breathe or think straight. I called my mom and told her that I wanted to go to the hospital. 

En route to the hospital, the panic increased and I literally thought I was dying. I began hyperventilating and I repeated “Jesus, please don’t take me!” Mom prayed and she sped to the hospital. After getting checked out, I was told that it was just a panic attack. “Just” a panic attack. Clearly these doctors have never experienced a panic attack. It feels bigger than you. It feels all-consuming. It becomes your reality. Your mind and body begin freaking out and no one around you can tell that there’s something wrong with you.

For the next few months, I suffered constant fear that I was dying. Some days I feared a heart attack, then I feared that God would supernaturally stop my heart, then I feared I would have a blood clot like my Dad, then I feared a stroke, then I feared internal bleeding, then I feared a brain tumor, and the list goes on and on.

These days it takes all of me and help from my parents to convince me that I will never get a blood clot, that I’m a healthy 24-year old who cannot have a heart attack, and that all of the other things I fear are just irrational. But, when you’re so far gone in your fear, that fear becomes your reality. To my brain, it is completely logical that I would die of some disease that older people typically have. I could look around at people my age or older that are obese and obviously very unhealthy, yet I can make excuses for why it would happen to me and not them.

I think that the entirety of last year truly affected the way I view health and wellness. I know it’s not a promise from God and therefore I began to fear losing my health. It got to the point that I told God, “Okay, God, if I get sick, I get sick. But please give me a long illness. I don’t want to have a sudden death because I live alone and no one would know.” That is what my brain thought about all the time. It’s still hard for me to stop my brain from thinking these things.

After going to the hospital so many times with my Dad last year, I think some type of anxious spirit latched onto me and I let it feed on my soul. Going to the hospital was normal for me. Growing up, my mother had hypochondria as well and she used to go to the doctor all the time. I had once dealt with this issue before, but when I was 16-17. It had been YEARS since I gave a second thought to my health. When I did, it became all-consuming.

I would stay inside because I didn’t want to die on the street, alone and helpless. That’s how bad it got. I would constantly jiggle my legs to keep my blood flowing, so I wouldn’t get a blood clot. I still do this. I look at my legs all the time, making sure they’re not swollen and I’d lay in bed at night, obsessively checking my pulse to make sure it wasn’t too fast, both of which would indicate a clot. The Internet told me that people over 50 usually get them, but that hasn’t stopped me from freaking out about it. It feels bigger than me. I used to go to the hospital once every couple of months, convinced I was dying. My doctor saw me almost every week for a new “ailment.”

I’m not writing to you from a “I’ve made it through to the other side and now I’m all better” position. I still fight for my sanity regarding health issues every. single. day. It’s a daily battle. Despite hearing God tell me that I won’t die, that He holds my life, that I’m not sick, my brain immediately goes to fear. 

One day, while just walking around, God said to me, “You’re so afraid of dying. You’re so consumed by the thought of dying that you’re not truly living. You’re really just afraid to live. When you were depressed, Satan tried to get you to kill yourself. Now he’s trying to make you think you’re dying.”

He’s so right, obviously. I was so obsessed with death that I didn’t give much thought to my life. I didn’t fight hard for things in life because I felt like I was going to die at any moment. What was the point of it all?

Readers, I ask for prayer in this area. I want to be fearless. I used to be completely fearless before 2015. I used to be confident, loud, bold, and fearless with everything in life. I KNEW that God had my back. I want to get to a place where I completely trust Him again.

It’s hard being a Christian and reading verses from the Bible that tell us not to worry, but then to suffer from hypochondria and panic attacks. It feels out of our control. We are commanded not to worry. But, how do we obey when our brain seems to be taking over?

Have you guys every suffered from hypochondria or other anxiety issues? Let’s have an open space to discuss, pray, and heal.

Blessings,

Gabrielle G.

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