My Battle with Hypochondriasis.

by Abhinav Kukreja

Shadowy imaginings seldom hold up in the light of real life experience. I spent my nights tracing shadows of the mysterious creatures that flew past my bedside windows. I followed that olive branch that so eloquently met my bedroom closet. I poured water on the bed sheets, shivering as the cold slowly engulfed me. I did everything I could to distract myself from…me.

Sometimes hot acid danced, slowly, and almost melodiously in my esophagus. I tried sitting up to appease the pain, but my efforts were futile. Other times, a fiery sphere hollowed my head- a pain that would make the most valiant of men scream. Everyday, I fought a new disease, and everyday, I lost. When there were no tears left to be shed, my skin was forced to cry instead.

I would grope myself to check for tumors, incisions, notches, anything. I decided that I wanted to be sick. The fact that my own mind was playing tricks with me was too hard to digest for me. The pain felt more real than anything else. To those around me, I was like a dead tree – Solid on the outside, but crumbling on the inside. I was stuck between two tsunamis, on of which was causing the other.

Every waking minute was spent listening to the sounds generated by my body – the mellow gurgle of food running down my food pipe, the sweet serenade of the heart pumping blood and the wheezing of my breath, as the toxic air bounced off tumor after tumor in my body. There was something very musical about the way my body was destroying itself.

I wanted to fight, but I didn’t know what to fight. I was a war within me, resonating between my very own ideas of well-being and morbidity. I was the paradox – the border that not only joined the two, but also split them apart.

I never knew how strong I was, until strength was my only option. When I decided to face my fears, I let myself cry. Open. I gulped for air, and I cried more. When nothing happened- when I couldn’t pour out oceans to make way for relief- I realized I was no longer the natural disaster I once was. My pain was no longer something that could engulf me.

Perhaps dying and living was the exact same thing.