Health anxiety (hypochondria) after the death of a loved one

As someone who now openly admits to suffering with health anxiety, since the death of my 12-year-old daughter and three pregnancy losses, I tend to avoid any kind of health-related TV programme. In fact, I wrote this blog post about why TV alienates the grieving as it contains so much death, blood, gore and trauma.

Yet there have been a new spate of health-related shows advertised on our screens. One of which is ‘Doctor in the House’.

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In this show, a doctors stays with a family for a few days and gives them all a full medical before advising them how they can avoid and improve any ailments they suffer from and, essentially, improve their chances of survival for longer!

Now, to me, this looks interesting as – being health anxious – I would be interested to learn about what we could do to improve our health as a family. But watching the trailers, I know that it’s more likely to spark off further health anxiety in me. I would worry we had the same ailments!

Let me explain, health anxiety, or hypochondria, is where you worry excessively about your health. This also seeps out onto the rest of the family as anxiety over their health comes into the frame, but it’s mostly an anxiety of the self.

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A reflection on grief in the Bible

I wrote and adapted this old post of mine for the recent Service of Remembrance at my church earlier this month. This annual service is aimed at those have lost loved ones in the past year or so. Indeed, we attended during the year of Abi’s death and it was incredibly moving.

With memories of that, two years on, I was somewhat anxious about what to say. Preparing words of comfort for people at pretty raw stages of grief was more challenging than I thought. It’s easy enough online when people seek out the kind of words I write, but to stand up and speak about my view of grief was daunting. Continue reading

The physical pains of grief

It’s been a while since I posted about my reluctant but important decision to take antidepressant (or rather anti-anxiety) medication. I have taken a break from writing for a while, to let life settle and see what comes of this new course of treatment. While at first the medicine seemed to exacerbate my symptoms, they did eventually settle and I began to feel much better – clearer in my head, more able to plan and focus on tasks. My anxiety symptoms not dissolved but greatly improved.

It was in fact a couple of months after starting the tablets that I discovered I was pregnant again – a side effect that certainly wasn’t on the instructions! It was both a shock and a worry at first, I can’t deny. Having been through so much and my mental health just about improving, and feeling stronger, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to cope with the emotional and physical demands that pregnancy inevitably brings. Worry upon worry upon worry.

But you know, when I’d got used to the idea, I realised this was an opportunity to celebrate. I’m now delighted to be expecting again – and while I have only natural concerns about managing a toddler and a newborn (again), I know these are just hurdles we’ll get through as a family, just like every other time. I don’t want to spend this pregnancy in fear of the worst, and dark thoughts do creep in from time to time, but I work hard to push them away. To keep my mind healthy I must do this with a strong attitude and remember that worrying won’t change anything. I have experienced already the worst imaginable losses for any mother, I feel ready for whatever is to come.
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Having faith living in such a broken world…

I’ve been so saddened by recent events in the world, including in Paris, that I felt I needed to write about it and to be more vocal about my beliefs.

It started this morning when I read a Christian devotion someone had written online which encouraged those of us who believe in Jesus to talk about it and live our lives through Him.

Firstly, I tend to keep quiet about my deep beliefs because I feel people misunderstand me. But as I wrote this post, I realised that this is what I am doing, today, choosing to open up so that maybe some of what I share will be understood.

Secondly, when I attended church this morning, naturally we prayed for Paris and other parts of the world affected by violence, and sometimes prayer alone can seem so futile in the midst of such sorrow, but also there was an overwhelming sense of people coming together, uniting, in faith and peace, singing all the louder to drown out evil. And knowing the freedom we have to worship together at all was incredibly humbling.

Regardless of what you believe – and I expect many will already be heading for the ‘x’ button to close this post now that I’ve mentioned J already – if we all lived as Jesus himself actually taught us, this world would be filled with peace and love. It wouldn’t stop all bad things from happening – He never promises that! – but it would put an end to humans hurting each other. Where is the threat in that?

So, if you’ve read this far, here is my take on it.

When atrocities happen, to us, to others, people seem to get angry at God, yet when they come together in such unity and strength I always feels this demonstrates exactly how God is working. Predominantly people of no faith will rant and rage with passion about religion and ‘our God’ allowing us all to suffer and perish in the most horrible ways.

It’s undeniable that heinous crimes have been committed in the name of Christ and God, through the centuries. Horrible things have been done to people who follow a religion. But religion and belief in God are not the same. Religion is supposed to provide a system for humans to worship and share a common belief, which, as we humans like to meddle so much in things, we have used and abused in the name of power – we just love hierarchies, riches, control! Atheists have a form of ‘religion’ too, as others – that is, they all believe there is no God at all. It’s still a universal belief system and they have their ways to support their ‘faith’. And it’s important to remember that many major world atrocities have been committed with no reference to God at all.

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