The Problems with Online Diagnosis

I am a hypochondriac.  This is not an actual diagnosis but because of websites like WebMD I have decided that I am a hypochondriac.  The issue with being a hypochondriac and having the ability to look up my symptoms online means that I automatically assume I have that disorder or disease.  Most people find this a joke and think that it’s funny when I talk about it but this is a real life problem.

After watching several seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, I came across an episode that contained a woman who was a bit of a hypochondriac and she made a statement that makes the best argument for people like me.

I still think this could be stomach cancer.  And when I get a headache, I think it’s a brain tumor.  And I lay awake at night and feel lumps in my breast and then my heart starts to race and I think I’m having a heart attack.  So no, I don’t think it was just a pimple.  The world is a scary place. And there are a thousand things a day that can kill you. And I don’t see how you don’t see it.

This describes perfectly how every person who is a hypochondriac feels.  It’s fear.  We are afraid of having the worst possible situation happen to us.  For me, I am mostly an optimist.  I look on the bright side of almost every situation except when it comes to my health.  I will always come to the worst possible situation as I am waiting for my test results to come back. I Google symptoms like it’s my job and I can almost always come to the conclusion of having a tumor or cancer because that’s what all WebMD diseases lead to.  I’ve done better at not jumping to conclusions but it is not easy!

This week I have been to the doctor twice being treated for a common cold or at least what I thought was a common cold.  Monday morning as I was waiting for the test results to come back, I started to panic.  Thoughts of mono, strep, tonsillitis filled my head as I sat there alone just waiting.  When he came back he told me it was just a bacterial infection. I was okay with that yet still slightly panicked at the fact that I am sick.  However, Monday night came and my fever spiked to 103.6 which sent me over the edge.  I thought my brain was going to fry and that I would start seizing and no one would be able to help me.  I automatically assumed my brain was going to turn to mush and that I was going to die.

This is not the best example of my minor tendencies to diagnose myself but it is the most recent.  I assume that I am going to die of a fever or that I have cancer because of a dark freckle or that a simple cut on my leg is going to result in amputation.  I can’t explain why I feel this way but the best reason I can find is that I am scared.  I am scared of the doctor. I am scared of surgery. I am scared that I will get sick and won’t be able to be surrounded by the people that I love.

So to all of those out there that sometimes jump to the worst case scenario or quickly diagnose themselves on WebMD, you are not alone!


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