By: Su Chen / Written: Sep 24, 2023 / For Letters Against Depression
Image: "Headache" - Media From Wix
To the one battling health anxiety,
I’ve been there. And I know how excruciatingly difficult it is what you’re going through.
Those sleepless nights, those fruitless days, the hours and goals you’ve had to relinquish. All to please health anxiety’s hunger for pieces of your soul.
It’s as though you’re the vigilant security guard keeping watch over the perimeter that is your body. Except you’re not paid a cent, and your shifts never end.
A new symptom appears. Perhaps it’s a dash of fatigue. A fleeting bout of chest pain. Or that minuscule bump on your face that sends your thoughts into complete pandemonium.
Is it cancer? Is it a heart attack? Is it COVID-19? Is it a chronic, progressive disease? What if I only have a year left? Your inner security guard assumes the worst, the darting shadows of your symptoms narrowly scurrying along the edge of the perimeter.
Relief is fleeting, and the honeymoon period after a symptom subsides is merely a morsel of peace before life throws in a new symptom for you to ruminate on. You feel as though your mind is being devoured from the inside out, and sleep is an ephemeral, sought-after treat during the honeymoon periods between health scares.
Believe me — I know. I suffer from health anxiety myself: it’s fire and brimstone that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
No, I’m not going to tell you that you’re “so strong”. While your resilience is indeed immense, merely pointing it out won’t dulcify your suffering. Nor will I tell you to “stop worrying” —- we all know our fears become augmented when we try to suppress them. You’re scared. You’re terrified. And it’s okay to be terrified —- let yourself experience these emotions without judgment.
Your inner security guard needs an anchor, equipment to hold onto — something that reminds him or her that he or she isn’t fighting health anxiety empty-handed.
Perhaps it’s the self-defense techniques of therapy, meditation, or relaxation exercises. Or the body armor of a personal passion to keep you grounded during moments of endless worry. Or a backup squad of supportive loved ones who stand in solidarity with you, whom you can lean on during a moment of need.
Whatever it may be —- find something to make your inner defender feel loved, safe, powerful. Something that health anxiety cannot take away —- whether it be an additional support network, a relaxation technique, or a personal passion.
Find an armament fit for the most unyielding defender I know. You.
You can do this.