Confessions of a Neurotic Hypochondriac

Living with paranoia and a bra full of crystals

10.24.16
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I’m extremely paranoid. This is at least partially due to, as a child, being surrounded by well-meaning family members who tried to protect me from the brutal realities of life. Like most kids, I asked a lot of questions. And like most kids, I got nebulous non-answers which made me feel like I was in church, which I hated. So I would try to find out the truth on my own.

Like the time I asked my Mom, “What’s a virgin?” “You’ll find out when you’re older,” she answered. But I wasn’t interested in waiting, so I went to the library, did a little research of my own and found out that a virgin is a woman who becomes spontaneously pregnant, which, for an eight year old, is pretty terrifying information. It’s also why I decided that if someone doesn’t want to tell you something, it’s because the real truth is far worse. Little did my well-meaning loved ones know what a balm the brutal reality of life would have been to my research-fevered mind.

Now, as an adult, I don’t even have to go to the library. I have the internet. And I click on absolutely everything. Every! Single! Thing! I’ve learned lots of things on the internet, stuff like how there is an internet celebrity whose only talent is popping people’s pimples, and did you know that Hillary Clinton has Parkinson’s Disease?

This is probably why I’m pretty sure my dermatologist is a liar. I DEFINITELY have skin cancer. It runs in my family. I’ve had an atypical Nevus removed (trust me, that’s bad) and all of my moles look really angry. Like, a stranger’s hair touching my bare skin on the subway in August angry. They’re big, and they’re dark, and they’re pissed. These moles are self-aware. They wax and wane with the cycles of the moon. Every year, I go to my annual checkup, totally prepared for the news that at least a few of these moles are just chock full of cancer, and the doctor takes a very cursory look at all of my dark brown cancer repositories, and exclaims “Everything looks fine!”

What.

That’s impossible. I am LOUSY with cancer. I’m sure of it. My moles whisper to me at night telling me that they’re coming to get me. They tweet shade at me, and then retweet themselves. They are going to kill me. So why is this “doctor” pretending he doesn’t see them? I think it’s probably because it’s more money in the pocket of the healthcare industry if I end up with full-blown cancer. That or he’s conspiring with my moles themselves…shit, I actually just thought of this right now. My moles are assholes and long story short: you definitely can’t trust doctors or the healthcare industry, which is why I carry these healing crystals around in my bra like a visionary genius. I haven’t been sick in weeks. Except for this weird rash, but the tourmaline crystal will clear that up if I concentrate my chakras hard enough.

And don’t get me started on men. I have so many hang ups, they call me Coat Rack. (Nobody calls me that, but I’m trying to get it started. It’s very apt.) My dad left when I was a baby, and my mom had a lot on her plate taking care of two children all on her own so she never had the time or the inclination to date or remarry. To me, men have always been mysterious shadowy characters with a penchant for unplanned permanent vacations. This combination of generalized paranoia and my inherent distrust of men has made dating spectacularly awkward and exhausting.

Like many psychological disorders, my paranoia is caused partly by the strange and mysterious functioning of my brain, and partly by the actual experiences that have shaped my life. And also like many psychological disorders, most characters on TV make them look way cooler and darker than I could ever dare hope to. Carrie Mathison uses her paranoia to catch terrorists and get embroiled in ill-conceived but passionate romances. I, on the other hand, have simply managed to alienate every heterosexual man I’ve ever interacted with, while also racking up massive credit card debt by purchasing mystical stones for warding off the demons that cause melanoma. Also, pro tip: When a Tiger’s Eye stone falls out of your bra on the subway, just let it go. It wasn’t meant to be.

Another pro tip: If your kid or any other kid asks you a question, please answer them honestly no matter how much time it might take or how awkward that might feel for you. Talk about the tough stuff. It will save everyone a lot of money in therapy bills and a lot of room in their bras. These healing crystals take up quite a bit of space.

Collage by Emily Zirimis.

Liz Hall is a writer and stand-up comic living in Brooklyn. Find out more about her at lizhallcomedy.com and follow her on Twitter @lizhall349.

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  • LIZ. Thank you for bringing levity to the ridiculousness that is the inner workings of my mind.

    (PS my annual dermatology appt is next week please send crystals)

    • Liz Hall

      There’s a rose quartz in the mail, Jackie. You got this.

  • Luarnaiz

    This is definitely the best part of this Monday. Thank you for writing such a funny piece.

    • Liz Hall

      Thanks for reading!! 🙂

  • Abby

    Ha! I am also convinced that my derm is a liar, even though she uses a fancy little machine to look inside my skin.

    Stop reading here if you don’t want to become even more anxious about lying dermatologists:

    When I was younger, I went to the derm (not my current one) and asked her to remove a mole that I was CERTAIN was cancer. She told me it was fine and definitely not cancer, and tried to send me on my merry way. I pitched an absolute fit until she took it off and sent it for testing, and it turns out I was right and I had skin cancer. VINDICATED!

    • Liz Hall

      OH MY GOD! I’m going to start scheduling daily derm appointments with 2nd opinions in the afternoon. Thanks for the anecdote! THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE!

  • Me, I am a Hyperhondriac :–) … meaning I had ignored my non-standard nevus for 4 decades, till I ripped a bit off, accidentally. Now I am ready to have it cut away, as soon as I find enough time. Lovely read, btw 🙂

  • molly_maureen

    It’s strangely comforting to learn there are other insane hypochondriacs like myself in the world. I actually told my doctor once that I am a self-diagnosed hypochondriac… Anyway, thank you for this!