Dietary supplements are a hypochondriac’s best friend

Dietary supplements are a hypochondriac’s worst enemy

Freepik
That Anxious Dude
October 4, 2020
I

It’s a morning like any other. 

I’ve just swallowed a big batch of banana oatmeal and proceeded to stretch myself over the chair like a pampered old cat. I'm leisurely sipping coffee and scrolling through the morning news on my laptop, sucking up all the drama of the world while feeling undeservedly warm and cosy.

In any other universe my morning should have been nearing its comfortable end… but I’m an unrepentant hypochondriac, so it doesn’t.

Which means there’s always a second chapter to my mornings. 

As soon as I’ve put down the empty cup, I spring up from my chair and, like a mischievous little elf, start making my way to the bathroom. I accidentally shoot a glance at the big mirror in the hall, only to see a man possessed, a man rubbing his hands together like the cartoon version of Count Dracula seconds before he’s about to jump his prey.

The ridiculous sight however, doesn’t stop me from doing what I’m about to do. It never does. Because the truth is I need this more than banana oatmeal, and my morning coffee and the daily fix of world news...

The object of my unhealthy obsession is a special box sitting in the corner of the big cupboard of my bathroom. The box doesn’t look like much - it’s overflowing with cartons, bottles and packets, it’s disorganized and in a state of chaos, but the one thing that’s always the same is the fact that it’s packed to the limit. The day the box finds itself empty, is also the day this apartment isn’t going to be occupied by little ol’ moi anymore.

I start rummaging through the contents of the box like a pirate digging his way through a treasure chest, and thus, ladies and gentlemen, the ritual officially begins.

First I dig out an iron pill - I squeeze the little red supplement out of the packet and place it neatly on the shelf. Then I fish out vitamin D. Then the magnesium. Omega 3 capsules are usually easy to spot… and on and on it goes, until the shelf looks like a kitchen table of a 95-year old who’s just sorted out his daily meds.

I pour myself a tall glass of water, throw a fistful of pills into my mouth, and finally let myself relax as the supplements tumble down my throat like little packets of dopamine. Tension that has been building up since I've opened my eyes begins to disappear. 

I feel better. I feel ready. 

My morning is complete.

...

The gravitational pull between supplements and hypochondriacs gives other cosmic powers a serious run for their money. I would bet my entire medicinal stash that if all of us “hypos” stopped buying vitamins today, the entire supplement market would go bankrupt tomorrow.

Every single one of my hypochondriac brethren I’ve ever spoken to immediately disclosed a feverish vitamin obsession. The formula just never disappoints.

Another thing that usually becomes obvious after only a couple of minutes of “supplement bonding”, is the fact that the menu is always prone to whimsical change - there’s always a fad, and supplements are discontinued just as fast as they were introduced. 

I can easily observe this fickleness in myself. 

It usually goes something like this: feeling slightly light headed during the day, I will immediately diagnose myself with chronic anemia (kudos webMD) and run to the nearest pharmacy like my  survival depends on it. After a couple of weeks of diligent supplementation, I will stumble on another article, one that’s stating the exact opposite from the original one, which will suddenly make my heart stop ,as well as drop iron pills like a hot potato…. And round and round it will spin like a Sushi table of ever changing random molecules.

I’m well aware that, at least through the lens of rationality, all of this makes very little sense. Nevertheless, these short moments of sobriety are exactly that - moments, slight pauses that won’t prevent me from feeling discomfort whenever I stop diving out of that damn box. 

...

It’s painfully obvious that I don’t really believe my body is experiencing a serious deficiency of any kind. If I truly believed that, I would have broken the doc’s door down at least a dozen times by now -  and believe me I’m no stranger to unnecessary MD appointments.

But I haven’t.

And that’s because underneath all this constant, frenzied, ritualized activity, even I manage to realise that this habit of random substance consumption has diddly squat to do with biology. 

Sure, it’s always possible to suffer from a vitamin deficiency and I do know people who actually have to get regular b12 injections. Still, it’s painfully obvious that I’m not one of those.

Detaching myself from my behaviour, even if only just slightly, I have to come to grips with the fact that the view isn’t very pleasant, that the spinning cycles of all this mindless guzzling look like a very pernicious type of a coping mechanism that's doing a lot of harm, and very little good.


The entire ideology behind my "supplementation" rests on a brand of magical thinking that begins with the negative assumption that my physical “state” could be always improved - something is a bit off, something must be wrong. If nothing else, I have to think about disease prevention, I have to be mindful of my future (sick) self.

And the quickest and surest way towards this imaginary “level up” is the input of magical substances, the wonderful assortment of dietary supplements. It doesn’t really matter which ones these are at a given moment, what matters is that they possess some sort of a proclaimed healing property. It’s easy how it works - pick one, take one, feel better. The maneuver works as a calming agent, if only for a while.

But the time that went into “research”, the money that was spent, the energy that was wasted are all irretrievably gone. They have been burnt for a daily fix of short term gratification, instead of being woven into efforts of cultivating long-term improvements. They’ve robbed me of the countless hours that I could’ve spent in therapy, or meditating, or going for walks.

The waste doesn’t end there.

Because there’s yet another side to this awful wishful thinking mechanism and that’s its function as a shortcut, a cheat code that allows me to skip exercise, eat junk and let myself go in a myriad of other different ways, because in the end, ingesting that one magical supplement in the morning will erase all of my bad decisions.

As long as I keep playing this game, I will be afforded a clean slate over and over again, without serious repercussions. 

...

The most detrimental aspect of being mindlessly hooked on supplements is the continuous exercise in messing up one’s ability to self-reflect, to confront your mental state earnestly. If we keep ourselves busy trying to find the next cure-all, we don't give ourselves a chance to obtain the space necessary to take a good, hard look at our issues.

Which, at least for hypochondriacs, is the one ability that often decides between staying afloat and being submerged...

Supplements aren’t inherently good or bad. Like much of everything else, it’s how we use them that matters. But what's crystal clear is that true self-care begins where distraction ends. 

So, let’s stop distracting ourselves with stuff that serves no other purpose than to keep us busy for busy-ness’ sake.

Let’s start making some space on our bathroom shelves.

***

Hey there, ya sexy anxious wanderer.

Creating this blog has been one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve made in the past year - the possibility of having an outlet through which I can share my worries, ideas and suggestions has had an invaluable impact on the way I feel, and has kept me sane at times I would’ve otherwise gone berserk.

With the negligible commitment of just a few months of semi-regular posting, this blog has become a well ranked and well read site, creating endless opportunity for further growth, which makes me really happy.

And then there’s the unexpected perk of suddenly belonging to an amazingly supportive community of bloggers, writers and readers, the interaction and friendship with people from all over the world, that would have never happened if I chose to remain idle instead.

But the absolute best thing about taking the step towards digital autonomy, is the possibility of this seemingly insignificant decision suddenly taking you places you simply haven’t imagined before, of rediscovering a sense of adventure you thought you buried long ago.

So, whatever your level of commitment, I warmly recommend that you create your own website.

Now, if you’re an apprehensive sceptic (like I am), you probably won’t wanna spend a fortune on your digital sanctuary. 

And that’s where Bluehost comes into play.

These guys let you register your domain AND host your site for a ridiculous $3.95/month (don’t forget to untick all the additional options), which is what I did…. and had zero complaints ever since.

To top it off their customer support is off the hook - it’s freakishly responsive and respectful, even if you’re bothering them with complete basic shite like I was (like, all the time).

To be honest, I can't really talk about other providers, as Bluehost is the only hosting service I've ever really used, but I can say that I have no intention of changing my plan anytime soon and that I’m extremely extremely happy with how my site is running.  So do give them a nudge while this absurd offer still stands!

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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