Hi everyone. I stumbled across this forum from trying to google what it’s called when you suffer from hypochondria after the loss of a loved one. I’m hoping that writing something here might help me.
I think I’ve always had some level of hypochondria - fear of suffering and early death have always been somewhere in the back of my mind - but it stepped up a notch when my mother was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago. In some ways we were lucky - she survived another 7 years after diagnosis and we cherished that time together and I acted as her carer for periods of that time when she needed it. She passed away 3 years ago last week and I was there, with my sister, holding her hand through the end.
I don’t know what I expected from her final moments, but she clung on for so long. Her final week in the hospice haunts me to this day. Everyone couldn’t believe she was still going, on the maximum allowed dose of morphine for over 5 days. In the end her final passing was the most traumatic moment of my life so far, it had none of that final release of grief and relief I was anticipating. I simply felt guilt for not being able to do more to help her. Guilt that she suffered more than she needed to and overwhelming loss. She’d not spoken in days but in her final minutes she gathered her strength to tell us she loved us with her final words. Time has helped heal this immediate trauma, but I still re-live those last minutes on a semi-regular basis. I probably should have spoken to a professional at the time, but hindsight is always 20-20!
My main reason for writing here though now is that since her diagnosis and then again since her death, my hypochondria has notched up. I’m not a permanent hypochondriac - I don’t suffer daily panic attacks as I have read some people have to live with - but I go through bad phases and now is one of them.
At the start of the pandemic my other half was pregnant with our first child and I started feeling a lump in my throat. I was absolutely convinced it was cancer (i’m a non-smoker but I’ve vaped for a few years). After lots of doctors appointments (all on the phone because of the pandemic) I finally paid for a private nasolaryngoscopy to try and settle my fears. Thankfully the original diagnosis of “anxiety-related globus sensation” turned out to be right, as I knew objectively it would, but it still took about 18 months for the lump to go away. It also came back for a few weeks earlier this year. Every time it does I know it’s nothing, but I have severe anxiety it’s cancer all the same.
Most recently I have had some lower back problems (historical, on and off problem for over 10 years). The frustrating part is that I can deal with the pain, but there are some other symptoms that essentially make it feel like I need to go to the toilet - almost certainly related to the fact the back issues are pressing on various nerves. Now, I have had these problems multiple times in the past and they’ve always been exactly what I know they are, but this time I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve got bladder or bowel cancer or something equally awful. The problem is, I know that the anxiety only makes the problems worse - I get digestive issues because of the worry, which feeds back into the worry.
It’s exhausting. I know I’m probably fine, I like to think I’m a smart man, I work in research, I understand probabilities and chances, but I can never shake the feeling that maybe I’m the unlucky 1 in a million and this time it’s just a coincidence that my back hurts at the same time that I’m finally getting the cancer symptoms.
I don’t really know what I need to do to get out of this vicious cycle. I have a job to do, a girlfriend and daughter to be with, and this cloud just looms over me all the time.
If you read to the end, thanks for taking the time. I appreciate you!