a woman covers her face with her hands as her anxiety swirls in circles around her head

Narcolepsy and Health-Related Anxiety

Before I started experiencing symptoms of narcolepsy, my health was pretty good. I'd only been to the doctor a handful of times in my entire life. My medical record is pretty sparse up until 2014, when I first went to the doctor about my narcolepsy symptoms.

Doing my own research on narcolepsy

My first appointment with my general practitioner (GP) was after doing my own extensive research. It involved reading up on each of my symptoms separately. This was until I eventually started to connect the dots.

After that, I read article after article, post after post, forum after forum about narcolepsy. From this, I went to the GP and suggested that narcolepsy could be the reason for my symptoms.

My symptoms left me with many questions and few answers

My narcolepsy symptoms developed, I would say, pretty much out of nowhere when I was 16 or 17. I still am not 100 percent certain about why this happened. Developing a debilitating, long-term condition out of the blue really had an impact on me.

I was left with questions that nobody had answers to. Why did I develop this condition all of a sudden?

Narcolepsy led to health-related anxiety

From this, I now have noticed that I constantly worry. I worry that I might develop another condition out of the blue. I am hyper-aware of any slight changes in my mind or body. Every little sign and symptom is catastrophised, convincing me that they must be a sign that I have condition x, y, or z.

This results in hours of research. My search history must be full of searches about normal, everyday symptoms. What does it mean if I have a headache? What does it mean if I feel dizzy? Then I scan other symptoms associated with these, like a checklist, and become paranoid that I have these, too.

A vicious cycle of anxiety and physical symptoms

It becomes a vicious cycle. Anxiety is known for having physical symptoms. The more hyper-aware I become about any changes in my body, the more anxious I get. The more anxious I get, the more physical symptoms and changes I get. I then focus on these and become worried about them, which only makes them worse. However, in the moment, I struggle to realise that it is because I am so anxious and worrying so much.

I guess you could call me hypochondriac? Yet, I don't actually get to the stage of talking to someone about it or having any tests done. I keep it to myself, which I'm not sure helps because I get no validation or reassurance that I don't need to worry. All in all, I don't think I help myself. This article, however, is the first time I've openly admitted it.

Learning to manage my anxiety

In all honesty, I haven't fully learned to manage the anxiety yet. I still default to Googling symptoms. Sometimes, this helps me to feel less anxious if I can confirm that my symptom is normal. Something that my brain doesn't seem to be able to do on its own just yet.

Although I have started to try not to turn to Google straight away. For example, if the same symptom is bothering me after a week or 2, then I might do some research. That way, I can see if it is something that I do need to worry about.

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