A hypochondriac might not be the first person you’d go to for advice about managing anxiety in a pandemic, but a recovering hypochondriac…now that’s a different story. They’ve figured out how to look their own fear in the face and not freak out. For that reason, Fresh Air’s Teri Gros asked comedian and recovering hypochondriac Mark Maron what he had to say about how to negotiate this new hyper-awareness-of-every-twinge world we are now all inhabiting.
“If I experience something symptomatic, now my first thought is…well, let’s give it a few days, you know, not like, oh, my God.”
He’s quick to say you obviously don’t give clear-cut signs of a problem a few days (or delay observing appropriate distancing precautions now that a sniffle has surfaced). However, after we’ve done what is required of us in our respective roles to protect others, that’s when we would all do well to give it a few days before sounding the panic alarm because we can sure do a number on ourselves in that space of uncertainty.
The surprising thing
For Maron, recovering from hypochondria turned out to be more straightforward than you’d think given how deeply entrenched his lifelong extreme panic over his physical health had been. But as Maron says, “It’s really as simple as…training your brain not to go to the worst-case scenario immediately.”
Who would think a project as complicated-seeming as re-training our brain can simply be a matter of telling ourselves something reassuring like, Well, let’s give it a few days? But something back in there is clearly always listening to what we say. It could probably use some reassurance right now.
And we would also probably do well to remember what we think, we will feel.