Last night I was speaking with a longtime journalist pal who told me he was envious of what I have. â€œYouâ€™ve got a great career,â€ he told me. â€œYou have a lot going on. I, on the other hand, have a lot of problems.â€
Though I was certainly empathetic to my friend, who, indeed, has faced some truly tough times, his words also made me think about the differences between reality and perception. We always think other people have it better than we do; always think those who seem to glide along actually, literally (in a sense) glide. Itâ€™s almost always hogwash.
For me, personally, the demons I face come in the form of hypochondria/anxiety. Iâ€™ve never written about this before, but Iâ€™m not even remotely embarrassed, so, hey, what the hell?
For, oh, 10-15 years, Iâ€™ve grappled greatly with the concept of mortality; that life is extremely short, andâ€”no matter how badly I want it to go on foreverâ€”it will end and I will spend eternity/infinity as complete and total nothingness. In and of itself, this is a pretty heavy-duty burden. Most people go about their days debating whether to drink a Pepsi or a Sprite, and Iâ€™m often weighted down by deathâ€™s looming reaper.
Somehow, that fear has manifested itself into anxiety, where now I not only think about the implications of dying, but convince myself of deathâ€™s imminence; that something is wrong with me and Iâ€™m destined to have some horrible disease and die. Within the past two years, Iâ€™ve convinced myself that Iâ€™ve had:
â€¢ An irregular heart
â€¢ A brain tumor
Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m going through nowâ€”fears of a brain tumor. Iâ€™ve been feeling head pangs (not quite headaches, but pangs) for the past few weeks, and I have to tell myself over and over and over again, â€œItâ€™s not a tumor. Youâ€™re fine. Itâ€™s not a tumor. Youâ€™re fine. Itâ€™s not a tumor. Youâ€™re fine.â€ For people like myself, pressure often results in anxiety, and anxiety results in created physical ailments. Itâ€™s not that theyâ€™re not realâ€”they are. But theyâ€™re caused by the mind.
This might sound silly or trivial, butâ€”at its worstâ€”itâ€™s crippling. At some point Iâ€™m planning on talking to a therapist, because I really donâ€™t want to live the rest of my life in fear. My grandfather was a hypochondriac, and he was a miserable man. Hypochondriacs like myself tend to want to share their feared ailments with everyone, so that people will say, â€œOh, Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re fine.â€ Who wants to listen to that?
Iâ€™m not quite sure what the point here is, except that nobodyâ€™s life is perfect; nobody floats along; nobody just rolls smoothly 100% of the time. Iâ€™m blessed with a great wife and two healthy kids; a wonderful career and a beautiful lifestyle.
But Iâ€™ve got my problems, just like you do.
(I just happen to be dumb enough to blog about it)