Amongst other factors such as the over-consumption of processed foods and busy, stress fuelled lifestyles, it’s quite possible that our predecessors were healthier than us due to the lack of unregulated medical advice available to them on the internet. We are a generation who are lucky enough to have an endless supply of information out there that is easily accessible through a simple google search, as well as being a generation who are deeply aware of the law of attraction. These things are not at all negative, until it comes to our health.
We’ve learned about the brain-gut connection , where the gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion in the brain leading to stomach upset and countless more digestive issues. We know all too much about anxiety , and how mental illnesses can very easily manifest themselves as physical ones. We should be using this heightened awareness to take care of our minds by way of maintaining our physical health, yet instead we insist on sending ourselves into hypochondriac-frenzies that can only turn our minor, everyday symptoms into genuine health concerns.
I am not an anxious person, in fact I am quite the opposite. However, relaxed as we may be, this newfound need to google every little symptom we may experience has given rise to a generation of hypochondriacs. Myself included. In the past year, I’ve suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic disease of the central nervous system and spinal chord. Of course (after months of unnecessary, invasive tests) my body has proven that in fact, I am perfectly healthy. I do not have MS, but with Doctor Google at my fingertips I’ve genuinely suffered as though I did.
It all began with a mind-boggling rush of debilitating brain fog. Foggy brain is a catch-all phrase used to sum up feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, lack of focus & mental clarity. While it does not cause any physical pain, it is emotionally draining and can lead to a strain on social relationships as well as problems in the workplace. Not medically recognised and somewhat difficult to explain, but nevertheless very real and very frightening.
After seeing a trusted family doctor who reassured me time and time again that this foggy brain was diet related and absolutely nothing to be concerned about, I turned to the unreliable & melo-dramatic Doctor Google to confirm the diagnosis. Having wasting much of my valuable time reading medical advice from unqualified strangers, I finally tucked my phone away with a best case scenario diagnosis of MS, and worst case scenario – a brain tumour. I decided to practice my power of positivity here, and settle on the former.
This is when the real trouble began. The deeper my google searches, the worse my foggy brain became, with a world of new symptoms thrown into the mix – headaches, tingling, numbness, blurry vision, sinus pain. The problem is, a headache is a symptom of a brain tumour, but also a symptom of mild dehydration. Chest pain can indicate a heart attack, but can also be a symptom of indigestion. All these little ailments can so easily mimic serious, even fatal diseases. Doctor Google tends to dismiss this, and instead scare you into thinking your days are numbered.
I’m not a medical professional nor am I a psychologist, therefore I cannot explain this strong connection between physical and mental health. More importantly, I am in no way suggesting serious illnesses and diseases are all in our heads – I am just lucky that mine was. I can only share my personal experience and tell you that when I received that simple text from my doctors office reading “Your Brain MRI was completely normal”, just like that, my brain was completely normal. That simple text quietened my inner hypochondriac, and I was released from the hell I’d been in only seconds before.
Today, no longer suffocated by the mental fog that left me detached for so long, I am back to my happy, healthy self. I will go forward with newfound awareness, trusting the strength and resilience of our bodies and guarding the vulnerability and sensitivity of our minds. I plan to look after my mind, body, and soul through yoga, floatation therapy, clean eating and mindfulness. But above all else, I’ll be locking Doctor Google away for life.