So, not having anything to obsess over health-wise, my GAD found something new. I had also been to urgent care, because I had the worst sore throat in my entire life. During my visit, the NP apologetically told me that I had a virus, and I had to let it run its course. She offered me steroids (NOPE), to which I stared horrified at her, at which point she realized that I was one of the lucky few who had terrible side effects. Oh, did I mention that steroids exacerbate SVT, and being on those is when I had my first episode? No? Ah, well. Chicken, meet egg. But I digress.
Being a good NP, Stella graciously informed me of things for which I should be on the lookout as signs that my virus has morphed into something worse. "Aha!" my GAD said. "I'm going to subconsciously file this away and freak out about it later!" One of those signs was swelling in the neck behind the jaw.
So, fast forward a few hours. Last night's episode of "What is Brooke's anxiety induced hypochondria think she's dying of now?" was titled "Is that a double-chin, or is my tongue trying to kill me‽"
I spent 5 minutes staring in the mirror, poking and prodding at my double chin, which miraculously
Is that a double chin, or is that swelling from my tongue? I didn't know I have a double chin. Poke it. Does it feel like swelling? Move your tongue up and down with your mouth closed. It moves up. Would it do that if it were swelling. Pinch it. Push on it. If that's a double chin, how come I haven't noticed it before? I surely would have noticed. It's not a double chin. That's swelling. I know it. Should I go to the ER? What if I go and they tell me how stupid I am and that they're examining a double chin? Oh! I'm bound to have some recent pictures of myself. Better go inspect those to see if you can see your double chin in any of those pictures. Best be sure before you find yourself stuck with a $200 ER bill for a double chin.
At that point, I spent the next ten minutes combing through any recent picture I can find. I checked the pictures on my phone. Not surprisingly, most of those were selfies with my kids. As we try to put our best face forward, I could see no sign of a double chin. "Well shit." I thought. "Check Facebook." None of those are good. "Check Oscar's Google Photo stash." Eventually, I convince myself that I do, in fact, have a double chin. Of course, the entire time, I'm also putting my breathing under a microscope to determine if I'm being choked to death by my tongue. "Is my tongue closing up?" "Am I really having a harder time breathing than before?" "Is that soreness new, or is that still residual soreness from my throat?"
Finally, I decide not to take myself to the ER. Instead, I hop in bed with my handy-dandy cell phone and spend the next 20 minutes Googling pictures of swollen chins, necks, and tongues in a last-ditch effort to convince myself my tongue isn't trying to kill me.
So, for those keeping track, I spent about 35-45 minutes obsessing over whether or not my double chin was trying to kill me.
This, my friends, is anxiety. I can laugh about it now, because as a rational human being I recognize the absurdity of it all. But I can assure you that in the moment, it's no laughing matter. The feelings, thoughts, and fears are real. And it's completely absurd.