Living Through the Pandemic as a Hypochondriac

Illustration by Rika Otsuka
By That Anxious Dude
April 22, 2020
· 3 min read
T

urns out, there’s a twist when it comes to hypochondriacs and pandemics.

Given the fact that we are in the midst of a once-in-a-hundred-years type of an apocalyptic thingie, I should be stumbling from one debilitating panic attack to the next.  But oddly enough, I’m not.

Actually, it’s not even close.

What’s even more bizarre, is the fact that I’ve been observing myself providing some sense of calm to otherwise stable people who have, in an ironic twist, developed a bunch of virus-related hypochondria impulses.

IT’S A CURIOUS INVERSION – AN ACTUAL THREAT IS COMPLETELY BYPASSING MY OTHERWISE  HYPERSENSITIVE ALARM RECEPTORS.

I’m not trying to say I’ve suddenly become anxiety free. I could still win the olympic gold medal in generalised worrying without breaking a sweat, but present fears seem to be centred more around my parents and the post pandemic economy, than the dangers of the virus itself.

Perhaps it’s all got to do with the shock factor that still hasn’t allowed my psyche to fully catch on to the insane circumstances of our current predicament.

Usually, the core agony of my health anxiety bouts resides in the wait itself – I’m “seriously ill”, but I have to suffer through what seems like eternal amounts of time, until the “correct diagnosis” is finally found (=never).  

If, say 2 months ago, a time traveller informed me, that the world as I know it will end because of a nasty ass bat virus that’s going to kill hundreds of thousands of people, wreck the global economy, and force all of us into quarantines, I would probably, (okay definitely) freak…the…fuck…out, with the rest of my days being spent in the manner of a death row inmate, sadly removing calendar days one by one, until my mental fortitude would be reduced to a smouldering graveyard of burnt neurons…

There was no aforementioned Looper though, or any other kind of preparation for that matter, which means that despite being vaguely aware of some kind of a virus making its way West, I didn’t imagine it ever having the slightest impact on my life. Despite the undeniable initial shock, it’s been more than a month since the pandemic has become part of our lives, but my health anxiety still seems decidedly unbothered by it.

SO MAYBE THE CRUX OF THE MATTER DOESN’T LIE WITH TIMELINES AFTER ALL, BUT WITH THE SUBSTANCE OF FEAR ITSELF.

I don’t know about you, but as a committed hypochondriac I’ve had my pick of killer diseases a long time ago (cancer, MS, neuro-degenerative diseases), and some “banal” sub species of alien flu can’t simply force itself onto this very exclusive guest list.

Feeling a certain amount of “rational fear” in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t just normal – it’s necessary for survival.

Hypochondria however, has nothing to do with either rationality or survival. It’s an overblown, irrational fixation on an often nonexistent illness.

And since the virus (unfortunately) very much exists, health anxiety “knows” it has no business standing next to it.

Now, as much as I disdain the life coach “have-to-stay-productive-during-the-lockdown” lot that’s been popping up all over my Youtube recently, I do concede that there’s a silver lining in this global calamity for us hypos, if we choose to acknowledge it – we are able to react in a rational way to unforseen, extreme circumstances.

Which, once again, proves that hypochondria has nothing to do with objective reality.

Who would’ve known?

H1 Reglar

at least until the cold rears its ugly head again, Berlin is turning itself into a series of endless open air festivals and parties.Our little hangout reflects this festive mood, at least on the outside. If you were just a random person walking by, you would have seen two mates comfortably sharing a bottle, drinking out of paper cups, chatting away and laughing. It would all look like an uplifting scene from a European indie film.

The truth however, is different. Laurie is my friend, yes, and what’s coming out of my mouth is real laughter, but the unpleasant feeling bouncing around my skull is one of deep discomfort. The truth is I’d rather be anywhere else right now. It’s not that anything bad happened between the two of us, like a pissing contest’s gone sour just moments ago… I’ve known Laurie for almost 5 years and during that time we’ve never even had as much as a disagreement.

H2 Capital

at least until the cold rears its ugly head again, Berlin is turning itself into a series of endless open air festivals and parties.

Our little hangout reflects this festive mood, at least on the outside.

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