Monday, 29 March 2010

Confessions of a hypochondriac

I confess to being a Hypocondriac, I remember spending hours as a child reading medical dictionaries (Mum was a nurse so they were always close at hand and I used to sneak off to read them as I was absolutely fascinated by the different illnesses). I'm not sure if I do remember (or if my mind is playing tricks on me) being told I was a hypocondriac and thinking "at last, I've found out, there is something wrong with me!".

Today I went to the doctor and was told I have Acute Torticollis. To most people this would just be a stiff neck, something to take a couple of paracetamol for and an excuse for a day off work. For me it is absolute eye watering pain. Yes, I'm a wimp too. On Saturday morning I couldn't actually lift my head off the pillow, everything felt like it was spasming and each setp I took compounded the issue. I spent much of Saturday and pretty much all of Sunday lying in bed reading my classic books on my DS (thankfully that was lighter than an actual book!).

(I have what this little guy has, but I don't look quite so cute)

I am soildering on though, I am in work today (despite the fact that I really don't think I should actually be driving if I can't look over my right shoulder) and being big and brave (and feeling very smug that although the pharmacist refused to sell me Voltarol over the counter because he said I couldn't take it with asthma, my doctor prescribed me 84 tablets of proper strength (4 times the Boots ones) and I didn't have to pay for it as I got a pre-payment certificate from my parents for my birthday (an absolutely awesome present idea if ever there was one. It's the present that keeps on giving). My doctor is an absolute angel, she clearly saw I was in pain and didn't take offence to my screaming and swearing when she tried to make my head go straight (it's at a bit of a wonky angle). She knew right away what it was and didn't hesitate to prescribe me something for it (apparently if I don't get affected by ibuprofen or asprin then diclofenac won't have an effect either, something the pharmacist neglected to tell me as he sold me ibuprofen).

I have a thing about diagnoses. When I was *ill* a few years back I spent many a session with my psychiatrist persisently asking here "what is exactly wrong with me" as if the diagnosis would immediately make it better. It wouldn't have done of course and I only really ended up with a pretty shaky "well you might have X and it could be Y".

Anyway, I saw an article on the Daily Mail website which peaked my interest called (as you can probably guess by now) "Confessions of a hypochondriac: A neurotic woman on why we are right to worry about our health"...

"I concede I am a hypochondriac. The news that women are more likely to be hypochondriacs than men but are more healthy is unsurprising. Hypochondriacs are healthier because we never, ever say of a symptom: 'I'm sure it's nothing.'

How is it possible for me to be sure that 'it's nothing' when my degree is in English literature, not medicine or nursing? I don't expect the greengrocer to fix my washing machine, how could a writer know that a twinge in the chest is so obviously 'nothing'?

In my world, all symptoms are a sign of heart attack, cancer, stroke, brain tumour, Alzheimer's or incredibly rare illnesses which can be diagnosed only by renowned television doctor Greg House.

Any bodily ache and pain could be the first faint bat squeak of a warning that my body is facing catastrophe. Why wouldn't I get that checked out - and then re-checked out with a second opinion?

My strategy has varying results. On one occasion, while lightly touching my neck at lunchtime, I detected not one but a whole row of lumps. For such dire emergencies I have back-up - a private GP in Golders Green who will see me the same day. An hour after the neck-touching, I was walking into his surgery.

'How's the writing going,' he asked brightly. 'Enough of the chit- chat,' I said. 'I've found a row of lumps in my neck. It's cancer, isn't?'

'No, they are the nodes that enlarge to drain the sinuses when you have a cold, which I can tell you have by that tissue in your pocket.'

I paid him £85 and went home, embarrassed but delighted to be alive, and with nothing more than a runny nose."

Full article can be found here.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Personality Test

I've done this test several times in the past, my results tend to vary slightly each time I do it.

Paranoid Disorder:Moderate
Schizoid Disorder:Low
Schizotypal Disorder:High
Antisocial Disorder:Moderate
Borderline Disorder:Very High
Histrionic Disorder:High
Narcissistic Disorder:Low
Avoidant Disorder:Very High
Dependent Disorder:High
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:Low

-- Personality Disorder Test - Take It! --
-- Personality Disorders --

Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder:
* Social inhibition; retreating from others in anticipation of rejection
* Preoccupation with being rejected or criticized in social situations
* Fear of embarrassment results in avoidance of new activities
* Poor self-image; feelings of social ineptitude
* Desire for improved social relations
* Appear to others as self-involved and unfriendly
* Creation of elaborate fantasy lives

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder:
* Self-injury or attempted suicide
* Strong feelings of anger, anxiety, or depression that last for several hours
* Impulsive behavior
* Drug or alcohol abuse
* Feelings of low self-worth
* Unstable relationships with friends, family, and boyfriends/girlfriends

I'm not sure if the BPD diagnosis is really right any more. I have the feelings of those things, but I don't activey persue them any more. Maybe just having the thoughts and feelings is enough :(

Monday, 22 March 2010

Lessons in Honesty

I read this in another blog and it really rang true with me...

Friendly? Check!

Smiling? Check!

Welcoming? Check!

Actually have a clue about what’s going on? Uh uh.

I have a habit of putting on a brave face and smiling away when I have absolutely no clue as to what I'm supposed to be doing with life/work/anything.

It's like that song by Wilco (any fan of Girl, Interrupted will know exactly the song I mean):

How to fight loneliness?
Smile all the time

Shine you teeth 'til meaningless
And sharpen them with lies

And whatever's going down
Will follow you around
That's how you fight loneliness

You laugh at every joke

Drag your blanket blindly
And fill your heart with smoke

And the first thing that you want
Will be the last thing you ever need
That's how you fight it

Just smile all the time (repeat to fade)

So, anyway, that's how I feel most days. I suffer from depression and have done for quite some time. I go through phases where it doesn't affect me at all and I go through phases where it crushes all sense of self worth I might have had. It's a rollercoaster but it's just one I have to deal with.

I've recently had a referal to N* Clinical Psychology Service and am waiting for an invitation to start attending a CBT course. I've never actually tried CBT before now. Maybe it will help, but I think that you have to be in the right frame of mind for it to work (maybe that's obvious).

CBT is a way of talking about:

* How you think about yourself, the world and other people
* How what you do affects your thoughts and feelings.

The thing is, when I'm depressed, I *know* that my thoughts and feelings are negative and I *know* I shouldn't be feeling that way, there is just a sort of stubborn-ness in me that makes me feel I deserve to have those feelings and no amount of telling myself I'm being silly can beat that. Maybe that is the depression talking and not really me, but it's hard to differentiate between me and it sometimes.

I don't think that mental health issues are something that you should feel embarrassed about and yet in real life, I still am. I feel ashamed that I have these thoughts and feelings, I feel dysfunctional. It's just hard to admit that when you're face to face with someone.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A not so tiny update

I'm finding it a little hard to keep track of myself at the moment. I keep finding new "social networking" sites and signing up thinking that *this time* I've found the perfect site for me. My current favourite is Tumblr which is, in my mind, very much like WeHeartIt which I used to like. For the most part, it's a place to share photos, quotes and other such things, it's quite nice really though (and I admit to being responsbile for this too) people have a habit of posting photos and not giving credit to the actual photographer which must be so disheartening for them, taking such lovely pictures and then not getting the credit for it. The site allows you to "reblog" things that other people post and I think there are a lot of reblogs where people take out the credit too. That's the reason why I went off WeHeartIt, guilt at show off other peoples photographs with no credit to them.

I'm also rediscovering Polyvore. I went through a stage of being mildly obsessed with (obsessed, moi? surely not) but stopped playing after a while because I felt that nothing I *created* was good enough (it shows you how many times your sets have been viewed or if people have marked them as a "favourite" and when mine don't get any views I get upset). I feel guilty using this site also because the original images are, for the most part, not my own, I prefer the arty aspect of it to the fashion aspect so like to use lots of photos to create sets rather than clothes.

I've had inspiration overload recently. Tumblr and Polyvore are partly responsible, but so is Etsy. Oh Etsy, how I love and hate you equally. Love, because there are so many beautiful things to buy. Hate, because even when I can afford them, most of them are US based and would rather not ship to England. However, I did succumb and bought four prints by This Years Girl. I'll do a bit of a review in a seperate post.