When I was merely 18 years old, my life took an extremely tragic turn. One night my father went missing and a month later, he was found as a suicide victim. Though I like to pretend sometimes that my father’s death did not affect me, I have noticed that I have developed a more severe anxiety attached to my health.
For as long as I can remember, I have been the person to worry about every mole, cut or headache. I do just have a predisposition to worry about everything and anything. I hate to say that I am guilty of googling my symptoms and convincing myself that I am terminal, then hurt my wellbeing by considering my apparent demise.
Though, something changed in me when my father passed. I think that it has something to do with the suddenness of how it all happened. It really put life into perspective for me and took off those teenage immortality goggles that I had been relishing in for years.
I had never considered that people that I knew could pass suddenly and at a young age, that thought reminded me that I had no control over death and I have no idea when my time will come.
The idea of death has always scared me
It’s always scared me, the idea of death. I hate the idea of passing away young and not having a chance to really live my life. Though I think that’s what the phobia of death really is, not being able to achieve all those things on your bucket list or having too many regrets. ‘
But my anxiety seems to have become more severe in terms of health. Now, I don’t just worry about dying young, if I have a particular fear of an illness, I start mimicking the symptoms and my fear becomes all to real. It’s strange to think that anxiety can manifest in a way that could convince you and the doctor that you are suffering from a physical illness and yet there is no physical cause.
For a year, this was my life
I had a fear of a certain cancer, I don’t know why but cancer seems to be the one illness that I am terrified of developing. I think it could be down to my desire to control my life but that’s just a reminder that no one can really control the future and that is ok, embrace life as it is now!
My body had given me very real symptoms
My body had given me very real symptoms, I mean chronic pains, temperatures and blood loss to the point I had to have many tests and hospital admissions. Each time there was no cause found and I soon realized that the more I thought about my fear of cancer, the symptoms would grow.
It’s not commonly talked about in my experience, that you could have a textbook defined list of symptoms created by your mind, it really shows as to how strong the mind is and how serious mental illness can be. However, it doesn’t need to be a scary thing or to let you doubt yourself.
Reaching out for help
It is okay to reach out for help
I learnt after a year of this that It is okay to reach out for help, it’s okay to call up health helplines or seek advice from a doctor if you are concerned about your health, though I know it’s hard to do that when you have anxiety. But simply talking about my concerns and understanding that I am healthy, having that relief and support, it really works.
I’ve now gone 6 months without any problems with my health anxiety, other than the occasional nagging doubt. Just through accepting who I am, talking about my mental health and coming to terms with my father’s death, it’s allowed me to start living in the moment and stop focusing so much on the things that you cannot always control.
Things that helped me
Anxiety can be your friend, it can protect you and ensure that you are safe
Anxiety can be your friend, it can protect you and ensure that you are safe. Sometimes my anxiety just keeps my feet on the ground and so anxiety doesn’t need to always be seen as this big scary monster. However, if anxiety starts screaming, shouting and stomping its feet because you are fighting those thoughts that are giving a really good argument, remember that you are not your mental illness and these thoughts aren’t necessarily real.
I really would recommend writing your thoughts, even just the words in your head. It helps to see these words in front of you, so you can understand them and start to unjumble that mess. When these words look at you face to face, you realise that they can’t control you, they are not who you are and you can delete them if your life, just enter backspace.
Life can be scary, the future is scary but it doesn’t have to be.
Charlotte Underwood is a 22 year old from Norfolk, UK. She is a blogger and a mental health advocate with a passion for raising awareness of mental health and preventing suicide. You can find her work at charlotteunderwoodauthor.com.