Almost Southern: I’m dying

True life: I am a hypochondriac.

by Meredith Mulhern, Staff Writer

I looked down at my right forearm during class in eighth grade. I noticed something peculiar on my pale little arm, something dark and misshapen. It was a bruise in the shape of a “C”. One thought immediately entered my head: I have leprosy.

The bruises kept randomly showing up, worsening my fears that I was slowly dying of a disease that rots your limbs. However, after a couple weeks, they all went away and none showed up afterwards.

Welcome to my life as a hypochondriac.

I have been a hypochondriac and a germaphobe for as long as I can remember. When I was seven, my sister would get the stomach flu a lot. When this happened, I would set up camp on my living room couch because the sounds of her vomiting upstairs stressed me out too much. Nowadays, when a member of my family is sick, I confine them to a single chair in our den and their respective rooms. Nowhere else. If they touch anything outside of these zones, I tend to go a little nuts.

If you couldn’t tell, I am deathly afraid of being sick. When I do get sick, I normally end up crying because I hate it so much. I also make it out to be much worse than it actually is. For example, here are some diseases that I thought I had:

  • Ebola
  • Meningitis
  • Brain cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Intestinal ischemia
  • Brain parasites
  • Leprosy
  • MRSA
  • Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome
  • Salmonella
  • West Nile Virus
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • ADHD (still pretty sure I have this)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Anemia
  • Hemophilia
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Mad cow disease
  • Candida
  • Ringworm
  • E. Coli infection
  • Neuropathy
  • Pneumonia

The majority of these are diseases that I will probably never catch (hopefully). However, my hypochondria will probably never end. I would like to thank WebMD and for helping me with my research when I’m diagnosing myself.

You may be asking why I think I have all these diseases and how my diagnoses came to be. Well, last year, I ran a fever during the infamous Ebola outbreak that caused me great, GREAT stress. I was convinced I had miraculously contracted the deadly disease even though I hadn’t come into contact with any West Africans.

I remember tearfully following my mom up the stairs, convinced I was about to die.

“Mom, I have Ebola,” I cried.

“Meredith, shut up, you don’t have Ebola,” she sighed.

“But I have a fever,” I explained.

“Exactly, it’s just a fever. Calm down.”

I also remember lying in bed with the crippling fear that I had a brain tumor in eighth grade. It turns out I just had whiplash from getting kicked in the head with a soccer ball, but it still freaked me out.

Every time I get a headache, I think I have meningitis. Every time I get a bruise, it’s either hemophilia, leprosy or leukemia. Whenever I have a cold and play soccer, I’m convinced I have asthma because it’s harder to breathe. Whenever I get slightly stressed and act a little neurotic, I think I have Mad Cow Disease or I’m psychotic. Really, there is no in between when it comes to healthy Meredith and sick Meredith. I either am fine or I have a life-threatening illness.

So, am I gonna fix this problem? Probably not. All of the precautions I take in order to keep away the deadly illnesses keep the little ones away, too. Seriously, I haven’t thrown up since I was ten (please knock on wood for me. I’m deathly afraid of vomit).

So, if you ever think you have a deathly illness, come to me. I diagnose for free!