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On Being A Hypochondriac (I Swear I’m Fun)

Daan Stevens

I’ve never liked hospitals. Which, okay, sure, who does?! Not really a place one goes for fun.

Every time I’ve ever been in a hospital, I obsess over the germs. It’s like I can literally see them multiplying in front of me, little green dots lining the hallways, and the rooms, empty or not. I wash my hands so many times after the visits that my skin starts to prune and peel. They get all Benjamin Button-y.

When dad was admitted to the hospital the first time, all I could think about was germs. Not his tests, or diagnosis, or team of oncologists telling us the next step. Nope. I was just afraid of getting sick. I didn’t want to sit down. I didn’t want to touch anything. It was like a haunted house. No place was safe.

When youre a hypochondriac, everything is a warning sign. WebMD is your own personal rabbit hole and the girl coughing next to you was definitely sent to punish you for some reason.

Sometimes being a hypochondriac feels synonymous with selfish. In that, there he was, my father fighting for his life and I was concerned with what could invade That’s not a story I like to tell. That’s part of me that’s filled with shame.

I can’t take care of people who get sick. I’m the worst. One Halloween evening in college after hitting up a few parties (and hitting the drinks on empty stomachs), all of my roommates took turns getting sick. I couldn’t help. I couldn’t hold back hair. I found others to step in. I needed to escape.

I get tunnel vision. It’s just me and the germs and what could happen and oh my god, has that mole always been there?

I joke about it. I call myself the neurotic jewish mother nobody wants. I rattle off medical advice without actually knowing what I’m saying. I go to the doctor when I have the slightest sore throat.

It’s weird to be so afraid of dying but also want to die. I mean, I’m okay. Please. Don’t cry for me, Argentina. I’m medicated and open about my struggles with the people in my life, and my depression chills out when I’m on top of it. But there’s always going to be some morbidity in me. A fascination with death. An acquaintance with it.

There have been times in my life when I didn’t want to stick around. But I still didn’t want any germs. I didn’t want to get sick. I just wanted to float into some controlled coma. But oh god, I’d have to be in a hospital, wouldn’t I?

The other day, I was cooking next to my mother. I was making an eggplant parm. She was cooking chicken. I looked at the raw chicken, the raw chicken that was in no way touching my eggplant, and panicked. Everything was somehow contaminated. I put my eggplant in the microwave, totally overcooking it, trying to somehow kill the germs. Then worried about radiation and cancer from the microwave.

Yeah, I’m single, why do you ask?

Jokes. (Not really)

This is something I actively fight against and work on constantly. A doctor once suggested I’m OCD, but we didn’t pursue it. Sometimes a girl just really doesn’t want one more mental illness slapped on her, ya dig?

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go back to therapy. I hope the office is clean.

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