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former hypochondriac, for whom the mere mention of

a disease was as good as a diag- nosis, speaks to Rebecca Brynolf about their experiences… but only after making sure she had thoroughly disinfected her hands of any germs. “I’ve only ever had two quite serious illnesses, which is odd for a hypochondriac to say. You expect them to say that they’re always ill. I’m pretty self aware about the fact that I’m actively looking for an illness and I’ve got the benefit of hindsight. Looking back over the years, I can appreciate that, really, I only had two serious illnesses. One was caused by an accident I had while chopping a tree: I managed to slice open the top of my knee. There was a lot of blood. A few weeks later I came down with Hepatitis.

Now, you might be thinking that with all of the blood involved it would have been Hep C, but no… Hep A, something acquired when I was living in Brazil. I think the accident with my leg just made me more susceptible to the virus, which I believe is spread on human faeces. There is no cure for Hep A, just rest. I was down for about six weeks. Six weeks of pure torture; night sweats, constant nightmares about dying, aching body, shaking, vomiting. My stomach felt like it was being punched on an hourly basis. Towards the end I went all yellow, and then suddenly, right as

rain. The best thing to come out of it is the fact that I now have im- munity to Hep A for the rest of my life. Anything else could kill me, but not Hep A! The whole experi- ence sent me into a bit of a panic. I became really paranoid about sick- ness. Headaches were potential brain tumours. Coughs and runny noses were meningitis. An ache in my arm was leading up to a heart

attack and mild diarrhoea was the precursor for bowel disease. I was

scared of dying a horrible death and started to live in constant fear of myself; the twinges, a missed heart beat, perspiration… a con- tinual general malaise. I was going to die. I was sure of that. As time went on I protected myself, shield- ing myself from potential danger. I never ventured far from home and I never went near anyone who was ill. If disinfectant hand gel and wipes had been around I would have been in heaven. All of the worrying was stopping me from sleeping so I was constantly tired. I kept going to the doctor with recurring symptoms, and when he stopped saying what I wanted to hear I found a different doc- tor. I even managed to fit in a few hospital visits and in my run down

state I found myself exaggerating what little symptoms I had to each

new physician. Eventually I could see what I was doing to myself and that I was on a circle of self- destruction. I could see that it was all in my head and that the con- stant worry was actually causing

the head aches and making myself feel nauseous. I could analyse it and talk about it, well, a little, to my Mum, but I couldn’t stop it. I started to think I was going mad, I even entertained the idea of killing myself to stop the worrying. Worry, worry, worry. I worried about wor- rying, and I kept on worrying.

Eventually after the umpteenth clear test by one of a wide variety of doctors I had seen, I was pre- scribed anti-depressants. These kind of helped. I got some sleep, though I was still tired. I went to see a counselor for a while and I tried to focus on nice things, pleas- ant things. I put the illness to the back of my mind. Every now and then it would rear its ugly head and I had to rush to the doctor for a quick check up, but as always, everything was okay. Phew. And although that’s what I knew deep down, I became very irritable, angry even. I found blame in other people’s actions. I was negative. I was depressed. I went away for a while and spent some time in Wales near a huge waterfall. I went walking by day and slept in a tent by the water at night. I didn’t take my tablets with me, which I thought was going to be hard, but strangely it wasn’t. I did have some withdrawals, but they have faded from memory. I knew I had to get off this spiral and I knew I was the only one that could do it for me. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36
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