Chronic illness vs hypochondria in times of COVID-19
As mentioned in the personal introduction my overall health dropped rapidly in the past 2-3 years and that seems to be fatal in pandemic times and also in general as a person with hypochondria and health anxiety.
„I knew it and I told you!“ is a sentence that won’t leave my head since I got diagnosed with MS last October.
I have had noticeable symptoms for approx. 1 year before but due to a lot of private stress and stress at work and the knowledge about my borderline personality disorder – which actually makes every emotional state 200% more intense compared to non-affected people – I finally trusted myself that I’m actually just hypochondriac due to the stress: what I feel is psychosomatic and definitely not the worst I’ve imagined.
But the results showed me the opposite: I was right, no hypochondria, I was concerned about having MS and now I have it indeed. Weirdly I felt a little pleased by the truth because it kinda showed me that I wasn’t just completely mental and paranoid.
But it also destroyed every trust in myself and my surrounding that I’ve just built up so hardly.
Followed up by one mistreatment after the other I just started feeling lost and anxious again because I didn’t know anymore what to believe in and who to trust.
The fact that lead to the MS diagnosis was a serious hip problem that started about 2,5 years ago during intense Muay Thai training.
They couldn’t find anything at first, physical therapy didn’t work and it got worse and worse until today. Recently I’ve been to a different orthopedist, he body-checked me in 5 min, looked at the MRI of last summer and said: oh! you clearly need a surgery.
How the hell could the other one didn’t see it? Maybe I developed arthrosis because I waited for too long…
I was outraged again.
Luckily my psychotherapy teached me how to accept things I cannot change – based on mindfulness and meditation trainings that helped me a lot in shorten my super-fatal catastrophic and (auto-)aggressive thoughts. But sure, this is definitely a row of circumstances that probably will be understood by the majority of people as a good reason to get f*** angry and upset at first.
And after all, Corona kicked in: my vacation which I needed so bad after this horrible past year got cancelled and last but not least the complete base of my income fell apart.
Why me? What did I do wrong that this losing streak just won’t stop? How should I still believe that it will be okay again? Why can’t life just give me a small break to breath deeply and get used to the new situation?
I started self isolating in different ways: Due to Corona advices and also due to the wrong track of giving up, I almost chose again, because I didn’t see any anchor anymore. Everything seemed to fall apart – again.
Sure, for some people it might be an interesting and spectacular situation at first to self-isolate and video-chat with their friends all the time because they won’t be affected too much. It will be over for them at one point.
As a person with chronic medical conditions that make me feel like an 80 year old in the age of 27 most of the time, I feel completely threatened by this situation.
I always have in mind: MS will proceed and now is the time when you’re still able to move and have some freedom.
This situation of isolation, being at home, feeling alone and cut-off from the rest of the world will become everyday reality anyways in a few years. I don’t want it to be now already. Just no!
And sure, rationally I know that’s just not true. But it feels like that.
Because of the current state of my hip impingement I can’t do sports anymore, I have terrible pain in everything I do. There is not so many balance left I could do in times of Corona restrictions.
I’m not that afraid of the virus itself but of its consequences. I’m sliding towards arthrosis if the surgery won’t happen soon and towards ostheoporosis if my hormone balance won’t recover (current state of menopause). I still need a lot of medical support but will this be possible in the current situation tho?
Nobody can promise me that this surgery and all the other necessary treatments I need will happen during the pandemic and we are just at the beginning…
Nobody can’t promise me anything and losing control is the worst feeling for me to experience at all.
Panicking about that heats up MS, so I’m stressed out about regulating my stress because it scares me to death as well.
It seems like a never-ending vicious cycle.
B U T ! in-between all those negative experiences which made me fight hard against my own mistrust from point zero everyday (because it gets proven all the time), I learned to step back. I know I want to live and I know that this is not the end, even if it feels like that pretty much.
Stepping back means accepting the current situation. Fighting against it with all these „whys?“ and anger makes it become a self-fulfilling prophecy and costs energy I urgently need for stuff that is actually more important than self-pity and blaming.
I started to keep a daily plan and routine with a small highlight each day which helps me the most to keep me on track – including a long walk alone everyday, no matter about the weather.
I also created lists that I shared with my friends for activities I always wanted to do and skills I want to learn, movies, shows, indoor exercise programs that I modified in a way that I still can do them. Everyday I pick one „new“ skill or to-do besides my regular activities (reading newspaper, meditation, music, walking, exercising, cooking). Building this blog and website is one point out of it.
And about the highlight: It might be ridiculous or too trivial for some people but I realized that cooking dinner is mostly my highlight of the day. It’s so relaxing and fulfilling to me, it even cuts my disturbing thoughts for a while.
Besides keeping the daily structure and routine even in quarantine I highly recommend to stay in contact with your friends and beloved ones.
Tell them if you need help or feel isolated.
Also important for me was to limit social media activities and just checking Corona news once a day. I felt way better already as soon as I started this.
Also I want to leave some links and recommendations (unpaid, for sure) in the post below for surviving quarantine that I considered as helpful.
Stay strong and safe out there and focus on what really counts: solidarity
Recommendations for surviving quarantine
- info and updates on COVID-19 and MS:
- home exercising:
- HIIT / cardio workouts (live classes and a couple of different workout types and plans, they’re offering free access to everything now)
- online games:
– best app to start with: Headspace
– how I do it, bc I don’t need guided meditation anymore:
I do the recommended 30 mins each day as one whole section, separated into 4 parts:
- breathing deep, locating myself in the room, quick body scan
- autogenic training
- focus on breath, count and visualize it
- light visualization (similar to body scan, body gets filled up with liquid light from toes to head)
I’m using the free version of Insight Timer for marking the parts, beginning and end
as well as binaural beats for background noise (just search on youtube for suitable ones, I use 4-10 Hz frequencies the most, like this one f.i.)
- my favorite books (mostly novels, mostly German, sorry!)
- Sibylle Berg: GRM
- Philipp Roth: Indignation (Ger. : Empörung)
- Elias Canetti: Die Fackel im Ohr
- Arthur Schnitzler: Frau Beate und ihr Sohn
- Thomas Mann: Der Zauberberg
- Mark Fisher: Ghosts of My Life
- Mark Fisher: The Strange and the Eerie
- Dietmar Dath: Leider bin ich tot
- Birgit Vanderbeke: Friedliche Zeiten
- Kristen Roupenian: Cat Person