Why I no longer watch medical dramas
For many years, I loved medical dramas. I started watching Grey’s Anatomy (no spoilers, don’t worry) shortly after it started airing, and I stuck it out until last year or so, when I’d finally had enough. I’ve watched House with Jim from time to time, and I have dipped my toes into many a hospital TV show or movie over the years.
You know what, though? I realized I just can’t take those shows anymore. I’m not really a hypochondriac by nature, though I have fallen into the WebMD wormhole many times and have diagnosed myself with everything from a brain tumor to colon cancer. Generally, I am aware that the illnesses that pop up on an internet search or in a TV show are extremes and that whatever symptoms I or my loved ones are experiencing are most likely tied to a very typical and decidedly non-serious scenario.
But I can’t help but notice how, over the years, my mind started going into high-anxiety mode when I learned about new symptoms in myself, my cat, and my husband. Jim hits his head and I think, “It’s fine. People bump their heads. But what if it’s like that episode of Such & Such TV show and really he’s had a brain hemorrhage and my not forcing him into the ER means he will die and I will live in regret for the rest of my days?!” Satchel, our cat, has been throwing up a lot over the last few months, and instead of thinking, “Maybe it’s a GI issue or acid reflux,” I think, “This is just like Wally [our last cat], and this is the first sign that his entire body is going to break down and the vet won’t be able to tell what is wrong with him and all his systems will fail one by one and he’ll not even reach the age of five.”
You see what I mean? I’m fueling my anxiety just by writing about these scenarios.
When it comes to migraine, I’m pretty darn familiar with the condition and all its signs and symptoms. I know logically when I should be alarmed and when I should just think, Well, this weird symptom is pretty common, so I shouldn’t freak out. When I am in a bad bout, though, my threshold for alarm is drastically lowered. I’ve had a migraine five out of seven days this week. I guess this is my new life. I guess I should think about retiring. Maybe this is how it’ll be forevermore. I hate that I wasted my very last healthy day ever goofing off online and checking Facebook. Oh my gosh. I just coughed. Is that the first sign of something terrible? I mean, I’ve never smoked a cigarette, but maybe I’m one of those rare examples of someone who gets lung cancer despite living a smoke-free life. Or maybe the migraines have been a many-year warning that I have something more serious going on, and I have ignored all the signs of that more serious thing for so long, thinking everything is just part of migraine, and really I have only a few months to live. Who would come to my funeral?
And on and on.
There are remedies for my medical anxiety, though. They include frequent exercise and mindfulness (both to reduce stress and keep my body and brain in good shape). They also include TURNING OFF THE DANG TV and saying no to TV shows where someone shows up at the hospital with a case of the hiccups and ends up dead the next day.
How about you guys? Do any of you have anxiety when it comes to medical issues, migraine-related or no? Do you notice that watching or reading medical dramas makes you more prone to this type of anxiety?
Have you taken our Migraine In America Survey yet?