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WebMD

December 5, 2009

Quite possibly the worst invention ever. There should be a big disclaimer on the main webpage that says “DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU HAVE OCD.”

When I was little, I always worried things were wrong with me–even when I didn’t know what cancer, or pneumonia, or other things were, I was always very wary when my parents would tell me “it’s just a cold”. But…how do they know? WHAT IF it’s something bad? This escalated and escalated. My freshman year at college, I called my dad (who works in the medical field) constantly–sometimes warranted (“Dad, I have an awful cough that hasn’t gone away in days”) and sometimes not (“Hi Dad…um, my neck is killing me. Do you think there’s a chance it could lead to paralysis or something?”). Sounds ridiculous, right? But in the mind of an OCD person (and, at that point I didn’t even know I had OCD. So I, and probably everyone else, just thought I was nuts and paranoid) it was real and I HAD to check about it. What if?

Everything could be something. A headache could be a tumor. A chest pain was a heart attack. A bruise was definitely cancer. And this is how I lived, day to day, waiting for that moment when I would find out what awful disease I was afflicted with.

Then, at some point within the last few years, not sure when, I discovered WebMD. Specifically, the damn Symptom Checker. You plug in your symptoms and it gives you a whole nice little list of all of the things that could be wrong with you–usually including at least one type of cancer, some sort of heart disease, several fatal illnesses, etc. So when I had symptoms, I’d plug them in, and discover how I was going to die. Once or twice I did even go so far as to call my doctor and tell her I was scared because of what this COULD be.

But the thing is, in an OCD mind, the standard phrase is “What if?” so people could reassure me all they wanted, that a headache wasn’t a brain tumor, but what if it was? You always hear freak things about people who say “I thought it was just a few bruises but it turned out to be cancer” or something. So what if I was that person? What if right now, I have all of these diseases stewing in my body but I’ll never know because people keep telling me “yeah, it’s probably nothing, don’t worry.”

The good news is I now know it’s OCD. But even so, the feeling of sitting here and just knowing that something is in my body is so uncomfortable. I’ll sit here and think, “There’s cancer, or a tumor in my body. As I sit here typing, it is manifesting itself. It could be at Stage 4 by now and I have no idea. Where is it? Where is this disease? Is it my brain? My heart? My lungs? How long do I have to live?” On and on and on.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. theerivs permalink
    December 9, 2009 9:58 am

    Wow as I read your blog, I notice alot of the same behavior in a good friend of mine. In our younger years I would joke around with her about it. One year I got her a medical book for her birthday as a joke.

    After reading your blog though, maybe I can convince her to think about trying to get help with her OCD, I know it’s effecting her life. She is such a wonderful person. I want the best for her.

    • December 11, 2009 2:25 pm

      I’m glad to hear it was helpful to read 🙂 people used to always joke with me about stuff like this too, and I’d laugh about it myself, because I had no idea it was OCD and not me just being weird or quirky! Feel free to show her this post and maybe she’ll see some of herself in it. You’re a wonderful friend for looking out for her. Best of luck and feel free to keep us updated as you’d like!

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