Struggles With Hypochondria and Anxiety
Hello General Discussion,
I am a graduate student in physics in a very good US program. I have maintained perfect grades and begun what i consider rewarding research in an exciting new field. I have an excellent relationship with a loving girlfriend and enjoyable hobbies on the side. In short, everything I have worked hard for in my life has come to fruition so far. I should be (and for the most part) am very happy, happier than perhaps I've ever been. Why the post then?
I have terrible anxiety related to hypochondria, and it's been this way for the past couple years. I don't need to go into the details of what's wrong, but I've been convinced (at times) that several fairly serious illnesses are upon me at the same time. I have seen doctors, quite a few of them, including one who is a family friend and whom I trust to take his time to determine nothing is wrong with me. Many tests have come back negative (though I've never had a thorough physical done) and the doctors and my loved ones have all assured me that nothing is wrong.
I still don't believe them and have scheduled a comprehensive physical, with blood work, in the next week. I am 23 years old. As an undergraduate I smoked fairly heavily and at times drank even more heavily. These foolish endeavors of youth coupled with a relatively sedentary life since high school contribute greatly to my anxiety. I have since quit smoking completely and drink only occasionally and in moderation now. My diet is good, but not spectacular. I do not eat fast food and I take a multivitamin. I drink both a lot of coffee (two to three cups a day) and a lot of water (perhaps 8 - 10 cups). I have only one chronic ailment that I know of and it is neither serious nor related to my causes of anxiety.
I am torn between denouncing myself as an irrational imbecile and wanting to scream at everyone that I'm not OK!
The anxiety strikes at me on nights weekends. On weekdays I go into the office and work the whole day. I am efficient and competent, and I enjoy this work. I don't think about my health in a negative light until I'm at home with the lights out, lying in bed. Then the anxiety sets in. I usually can't sleep at this point so I do some math in my head, perhaps taking the square root of some 3 digit number or thinking about the convergence of some series, anything to take my mind off of it. Then after an hour or two I exhaust myself into sleep. Coffee jolts me into efficiency in the morning. By Friday, I am sleep deprived. I sleep in on Saturday, intent on getting some enjoyable work done, maybe on a side project. Perhaps I want to learn something unrelated to my area of primary interest. I wake up after my first good night's sleep in a week and become paralyzed with anxiety for the rest of the day. Sunday is the same and then Monday morning, after 4-5 hours of sleep I am fine... until bed time...
Today has been especially miserable, thus this post. I don't know how to get rid of this irrationality. After each doctor's appointment my mind usually settles for a week or two until I convince myself there's something the doctor missed. I have considered seeking counsel of a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I have had bad experiences in the past and sort of wish to avoid seeing these sorts of professionals in the future.
I am sorry for the long winded post. I'm not sure what I am trying to accomplish other than getting this off my chest and asking for a bit of advice from like minded people(you physics soundrels, you). I wish to hear anything about similar experiences.
As a final note I will mention that my grand father was a huge hypochondriac all of his life. It ended up SAVING his life... Perhaps this knowledge serves to only further my nuttiness.
TL;DR -> I'm sort of crazy
ZF, the version of Feynman with no brains at all