The Four-Step Path to Full-Blown Hypochondria


The Four-Step Path to Full-Blown Hypochondria

Illustration: Juergen D

No matter where you are from, Googling “how often should I burp in one day”, is not the ideal way to spend Sunday afternoon. But for worrywarts who also display signs of budding hypochondria, this is an unfortunate reality. Because the internet is now available to us on the toilet, this obsession has become common enough to get its own Black Mirror-y title – cyberchondria.

The path to becoming a cyberchondriac usually begins with a couple of hiccups and some terrible decision-making. Once you are on the homepage of WebMD, you will be surprised to find that hiccups are also symptoms of pneumonia, uremia, pancreatitis, pleurisy of the diaphragm, and of course, cancer of the liver. With a laugh at all the plebs who thought water was an appropriate cure for something this serious, you go a little deeper. If the internet has such deep answers for my stupid hiccup question, surely it can tell me more about my organ functioning… This is usually the point where you will experience phase 1 of turning into a hypochondriac.

Phase 1: You’ll be fine

Your Google Search: “Crocin bad?”

Hello and welcome down the rabbit hole. Your next few weeks are going to be quite painful as you discover that pretty much anything you have ever ingested has been both bad for you and really good for you depending on the way you phrase your question. Eventually, however, most websites are likely to tell you that you are going to die faster than the mood at Arnab Goswami’s birthday party. Enjoy that information while you realise that this is an obsession that’s going to last a few weeks. Until…

Phase 2: Call a doctor

Your Google Search: “How many vitamins too many?”

Sadly at this point you’re on a diet of vitamin drinks, vitamin capsules, and vitamin energy bars, because the only alphabets you’ve been getting into your body lately have been OC and D. Anything that has the word vitamin in it is probably making you feel better just by virtue of its existence. But you’ve spent all the money you earned in the last month at Wellness Forever, so are you really okay? At this point doctors have written you off as being that nutjob who’s always yelling about blood-pressure and resting heart rates. But you want more tests. You need more answers. “Does Adidas make better running shoes than Nike?” “Do Fitbits have a heart disease alarm?” Let me Google this and find out.

Phase 3: Call an ambulance

Your Google Search: “Low WBC, I have. Now what?”

You’ve just decided that you have a low white blood cell count because another website told you that dragon-fruit is the only true source of white blood cells. Unfortunately dragon-fruit is not available in your country, unless you’re willing to physically go and strangle a farmer, so you try and look for a few alt-remedies. The links are now starting to convey through interactive charts that you are really, really sick this time. You’ll probably just assume that this low WBC count stems from a sandwich you ate in the third grade, and assume once again, that you have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Things are just not looking good.

Phase 4: Call the pandit

Your Google Search: “Why take so long pee? Sometime”

You are now standing in a urinal with a phone in your hand wondering how your life built up to this moment. Google has casually informed you that you have 4-6 months to live, and that you will be balding all the way to the end. It doesn’t matter what the disease is/was, call your friends and list out every single kind of food group they should be avoiding. Hey, ask them to see a picture of your worms, they’ll appreciate that!

When you were younger, you were probably a quirky, neurotic and lovable person. Now unfortunately the transformation is complete. Congratulations. You’re a cyberchondriac.