You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2007.

Recently, Josh wrote a post about self-diagnosis. I started to comment on it but soon realized that writing a follow-up post would be a better idea. Because just a couple of weeks ago I had lung cancer. Through self-diagnosis. That was fun…

This anxiety thing is a rollercoaster ride. You go up, you go down. I’ve been going up and down for the past few months (a year, actually) but to me that is progress because it used to be all downhill. And a couple of weeks ago I went down… apparently with lung cancer (and later, stomach cancer)… or anxiety.

I always seem to end up in “The Pit of Self Diagnosis”, though. I am very scared of falling ill with some fatal disease and I am definitely a hypochondriac. So when my anxiety sets in, I start selling myself this story, see?

I tell myself: “Come on! You’re rational enough, and besides, lately the anxiety has been better and you really, really, REALLY, are having authentic symptoms this time and you’ll be able to not go with the cancer thing and… It will make you feel better to see it’s just the flu or the common cold…“

And there I am. Googling again. And a few seconds later I’ve got cancer. Or a brain tumor. Or anything that is fatal – the faster it kills, the more likely I am to have it. Yay! The fun never stops if you ride the anxiety rollercoaster!

Of course I realized, after a few days, that I probably didn’t have lung cancer or other terminal diseases. Even though I had been messing with cigarettes again for a couple of months (which, initially triggered “the cough”, which triggered “the mucus”, which triggered the “lung cancer”).

So, I think I need to stop listening to “the story”. I have to stop believing my own BS and realize that it is anxiety – and if it is not (and I really have some awful disease) there probably isn’t much I can do about it anyway… and I should probably just see a doctor.


Zen Habits, one of the best blogs on the internet, has a fantastic article that everyone should read. Even if you follow half of these suggestions, I have little doubt that they will be of great benefit to you. Check it out!

Living with health anxiety or hypochondriasis can be very challenging, and one of the ways we often deal with our anxiety is to self-diagnose. In most people (read: non-hypochondriacs), self-diagnosis can be a helpful tool to pin down a particularly difficult diagnosis, but for hypochondriacs, self-diagnosis always leads to disaster.

Here are a few things you should remember:

  1. Even with the wide availability of medical information on the internet, the best place to get a diagnosis is with a doctor who is trained and experienced to discover the root causes of your symptoms. Doctors have something we don’t: objectivity. When you’re a hypochondriac, you’re too involved with your diagnosis to objectively diagnose yourself.
  2. Just because your symptoms match those of a fatal or disfiguring disease doesn’t mean you have that disease. In fact, almost all human diseases — from the benign to the worst — have symptoms similar to those of the common flu or other bacterial or viral infection. There is very rarely a “perfect” symptom, one that definitively proves that you have a disease. So, in short, stop searching for the definitive symptom. You won’t find one.
  3. You will not find anything that gives you comfort. Googling your symptoms is a sure-fire way to get bad results. Just think about how search engines work and you’ll soon realize that the odds are stacked against you. A search engine is designed to return the most common references to your keywords. So why does the search “headache” often lead directly “brain tumor?” Frankly, because most people with headaches don’t waste their time developing web content about it.
  4. Almost every site you visit will mention that it might be cancer, so get it checked out. They do this not only for your own benefit, but also to cover themselves legally. If you stumbled upon a site that claimed your headaches were nothing, and it turned out to be a tumor, you might sue the owner of that site and claim that the information urged you not to get treatment. Rest assured, the odds are in your favor that your symptoms are nothing but the result of stress and anxiety. These disclaimers are not intended to be analyzed by hypochondriacs, so don’t pay any attention to them.

Remember, it’s important to stay involved in your own health care. Too many people pretend that doctors are invincible or that they don’t make mistakes, but don’t use this as an excuse to self-diagnose. If one doctor fails you, don’t go running to Google. Instead, find another doctor. Second, third, and even fourth opinions are very common in medicine.

Just to give you an example, my father has a congenital vascular defect in his leg. About fifteen years ago, he began experiencing severe pain and spent weeks unable to walk. His leg turned blue as it was starved of oxygen due to a defective valve in his hip. His first doctor recommended amputation. The second basically shrugged and didn’t know what to do. The third recommended amputation. The fourth recommended a compression boot and blood thinners. My father still has his leg. Sure, it gives him problems from time to time, but if he had listened to his first doctor, he’d now be in a wheelchair or on a prosthesis. has a great page entitled “Self Diagnosis Pitfalls.” I highly recommend you read it, especially the second entitled, “Why Doesn’t Self-Diagnosis Work?” Read it now.

And stay away from the search engine! Unless, of course, you’re trying to figure out how to install a new water garden, in which case, Google on my friend, Google on.

Take a look at this:

Kingston, ON) – Surprisingly, people with mild depression are actually more tuned into the feelings of others than those who aren’t depressed, a team of Queen’s psychologists has discovered.
“This was quite unexpected because we tend to think that the opposite is true,” says lead researcher Kate Harkness. “For example, people with depression are more likely to have problems in a number of social areas.”

Personally, I’ve always believed that people who are prone to depression — myself included — tend to be more socially receptive. That isn’t to say that we’re more social, but rather that we are particularly sensitive to the feelings of others.

What do you think?

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the readers here at We Worry and all of the contributors.

Being a Mother is tough work, being a Mother with any sort of Mental Illness just adds to the stress of day-to-day life.  Let this be the day that you sit back and enjoy doing whatever it is that you love.  Try not to worry about the small things and let this be your day.  You do so much for everyone in your life, today do something for yourself.  Relax.

Happy Mother’s Day!

A year ago you didn’t find people talking so freely about their mental illness. I was extremely excited to find this article in our local newspaper. I hope it continues, it’s the only way we really make progress.

Charleston, SC – Most of us take our mental health for granted since it’s a basic part of who we are. But mental health is a major aspect of everyone’s life that needs to be protected. “I told everybody I do not have a mental illness, I have a brain tumor. For the first 2 years I was diagnosed, I convinced everybody I did not have bipolar.” Donna Lynch believed the negative stigma that exists about mental illness…that she would be seen as crazy. “Most of the time when we hear about mental illness something horrific has happened. A person with mental illness goes crazy Virginia Tech.” But Donna notes that there are dozens of mental illnesses, the majority of which do not cause a person to become violent. “Eating disorders, autism, alzhemiers, dementia anything that’s a chemical imbalance and that’s what mental illness is a chemical imbalance.” Mental illness is a disease that is highly treatable with medications and therapy. Donna was told she would never be able to work. Now she’s a peer support specialist at the Berkeley Community Mental Health Center helping patients with recovery skills. The Berkeley Community Mental Health Center serves up to 1800 patients with a variety of mental illness. Donna says they are helping these patients live successful lives in spite of their disease. Donna says she’s living proof. “I literally am a success story from the center and I’m not the only one I know people I’ve seen come there that I’ve literally seen their lives turn around.” And changing lives is the goal of Mental health awareness month which is this month to promote mental wellness.

"Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it." -- Mark Twain