A Hypochondriac Diagnosis, Part I

I have (and have had) many ailments. For starters, I’m near-sided and have flat feet — both of which prevented my grandfather and namesake from going overseas during WWII (he was instead part of the National Guard in Atlanta, Georgia).

I had such horrible acne as a child that I was given Acutane, a drug now famously known to cause both eating disorders and depression (thanks both).

I have a deviated septum, chronic earwax, seasonal (all seasons) allergies, a bad overbite (corrected as a young adult with a torture device known as a “palate expander”), and a unibrow.

I suffer from the ridiculously named Globus Hystericus, which in simple terms is classified as a “lump in the throat.” From Mosby’s Medical Dictionary:

a transitory sensation of a lump in the throat that cannot be swallowed or coughed up, often accompanying emotional conflict or acute anxiety. The condition is thought to be caused by a functional disturbance of the ninth cranial nerve and spasm of the inferior constrictor muscle that encircles the lower part of the throat. The physical examination result tends to be normal, as does the result of barium esophagraphy.

When the weather is just right and the moon is at 5/8 my right eye twitches and feels as if someone is pulling on my eyelid with a tweezers.

As madness seems a common side effect of a distorted world view, I won’t go into detail about the dreams, which are most definitely not nightmares, but fully-realized, plot-driven sci-fi melodramas. But I can’t complain. As Karl Pilkington says, “If you’re living the dream, how would you know whether you are awake or asleep?”

At age five I vividly remember sitting on the toilet pondering infinity and having what amounted to my first anxiety attack. While being dead forever seemed like a stretch, I was equally paralyzed by the thought of living forever. This seemed to leave no alternative on which to be excited about.

Luckily, there was a poster on my wall growing up of a zoological scene, in which a snake was curled up in the middle, poised to strike — this was frightening enough to allow me to forget eternity for moments at a time, allowing me to eventually slip into unconsciousness.

That was before I found masturbation.

Perhaps I was the only one, but at the time of realizing my own mortality (back to the toilet) it struck me as an absolute that by the time I turned thirty this would not bother me. As if a magic blanket of calm understanding washes us over once we reach the one-third mark of our lives.

This moment never came. Instead, a series of anxiety-induced maladies exploded into a Japanese-Anime-like pink cancer that threatened to overwhelm the world.

It could be that the psychologist I saw in high school was correct — I need to believe in something. This will make everything better. Doesn’t matter what. Just pick something and believe. I recall a drawing of some sort, sketched rather hastily on the coffee table in his office. Circles, lines, words like “World” and “View” and “Me” in giant all-caps.

Buddha seems nice. Or Krishna. Or Kalki. Baldr, Odin, Skaði. Yu-huang, Anu, Gaia, Ahura Mazda. Flying Spaghetti Monster.

This isn’t helping.

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2 thoughts on “A Hypochondriac Diagnosis, Part I

  1. Wonderful, though I doubt that belief would ease your anxiety. You can't choose to believe something without doubt. You either believe it because it is rationally true, or you believe it because it feels somehow right, like it explains the world in a way nothing else does. I don't think you can anymore choose to believe something than you can choose to grow a new head, and knowing you, you'd only agonize over what to believe, how much, if you chose properly, etc. Fuck that. Do what you are doing here. Embrace your eccentricities as defining and characteristic of the uniqueness of your self.

  2. Tom, dammit, you are correct! There are days when I truly know the only relief I will ever get from this "existential dread" is the feeling I get after releasing it onto paper. I will never know and I will never be comfortable in not knowing, and I will never be able to grasp onto any concept that claims to know.I guess I will just continue to vomit onto a page. That, and listen to this amazing podcast called Cognitive Dissonance…

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