The sun was streaming in through my window the day the diagnosis came. I stopped eating my bran flakes and blueberries and set the spoon on the table. The soothing voice from the TV spoke directly to me. “Do you sometimes feel sad, lethargic and even hopeless?”
“Oh! Yes I do.” I thought to myself. “Why just this morning I was so lethargic from staying up too late that I slept in, skipping my morning exercise. My efforts to exercise and lose a few pounds really do seem quite hopeless and that does make me quite sad.”
The all knowing voice spoke to me again. “Do you also have times when you accomplish quite a lot while your mind is racing and you are speaking quite quickly?”
“Oh! Yes I do.” I thought to myself. “That happens every single day. I thought it was called motherhood, though.” I have never thought of myself as bipolar. But here was the comforting and understanding voice convincing me that I just might be a tiny bit bipolar. All I needed was a pill.
The sun was setting outside my window the night the next diagnosis came. I perused the magazine taken from the top of the overgrown pile of magazines beside the bed. The words on the page next to the picture of the peaceful, gorgeous, sleeping woman spoke directly to me. “How are you sleeping these days? Do you have trouble falling asleep? Or waking in the night?”
“Oh! Yes I do have troubles.” I thought to myself. “I never sleep through the night.” I thought my sleep problems were caused by my nocturnal naughty cat thinking 2 am was a good time to pretend my bedroom was a kitty NASCAR track. I never thought my sleep problems might be something more than cat related. But here was a picture of a good looking, tranquil woman with calming words printed next to her head convincing me that I just might have a tiny bit of a sleep problem. All I needed was a pill.
Over the course of the next few weeks I managed to convince myself that I most likely had back problems caused by inadequate mattress support, allergies that have been keeping me down, and embarrassing scarring that was zapping my self confidence. I was pretty sure I displayed many signs of unrecognized adult ADHD. I was positive I had acid wear of my vulnerable teeth that was irreversible. And it was obvious that I was being held back socially by the wrinkles in my forehead. All I needed was a pill…and a special mattress, some fresh scented cream, a tube of minty toothpaste and an needle in my head.
I was also quite convinced there are a few conditions that I’m likely to get in the future. As a result, I was very careful to watch out for tingling, numbness, and a shooting or burning sensation in 5 different parts of my body. I’ve been on the lookout for the first sign of breathing difficulties, diminished lung function and walks with my grandchildren that are no longer satisfying and leave me winded. I also know that if I have sudden problems passing urine, have strange itching, skin rashes, hives or blisters, or if I start vomiting blood that I should get more information from the handy, easy to use website or call the 1-800 number to request the large print pamphlet that they can mail to me. And of course, I’ll feel much better-as soon as I get a pill.
My compulsion to self diagnose health issues based solely on information from TV and print ads eventually started to wane a bit. I realized my irrational and paranoid thoughts had gone too far when I convinced myself I had 3 out of 4 symptoms of erectile dysfunction. It was then that I knew I needed to leave the diagnosing to my doctor. I am now comforted by the fact that despite my perceived health issues, I can still live “my best life”. Apparently, according to the TV commercial I saw last night, I can still have it all. I will be able to address my specific womanly needs. There is no doubt that I can have more of what matters to me. All I need is a specially formulated…vitamin.
Check This Out!
My new favorite breakfast or lunch: Toast a whole wheat english muffin. Top with sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper, and a little bit of thinly sliced fresh mozzarella. Broil for a couple of minutes. Variation: Throw on some fresh basil if you have it.