“I am worried I am getting Alzheimer’s” my daughter said as she wrinkled her forehead at me.

“First, what makes you think you are getting Alzheimer’s and second, how do you even know what that is?” I asked her calmly.

“Because I forgot what the word for losing your memory was today and someone said maybe I had Alzheimer’s.”

“You mean you forgot the word Amnesia?”

“Yes Amnesia. So do I have Alzheimer’s?”

“Do you realize how ironic it is you are worried about Alzheimer’s because you forgot the word Amnesia?”

“MOM, I am being serious what if I have it?”

“You don’t have Alzheimer’s I promise.” I tried to explain what Alzheimer’s was and eventually relief showed on her face.

But then…

“How do you get Amnesia?” worry was creeping back into her face.

“It is rare but sometimes it happens if you hit your head really hard.” I tried to calm her fear before it got out of hand because, these things always caused her anxiety.

“How hard would I have to hit my head. I am afraid I will fall now and I’ll be stupid.” Her voice was becoming frantic.

“Honey, please calm down so I can explain. Amnesia doesn’t make you stupid it makes you forget names, places, or events. Strangely, you may still remember how to tie your shoe or do math.”

In an effort to make her laugh I smiled really big and said, “You might forget I am your mom but you would still be able to read.”

But it didn’t work. She completely panicked at the thought of forgetting her own mom. I held her and told her all the things she is used to hearing.

You see, the above Abbott and Costello like conversation would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that my daughter is ten and she is a hypochondriac.


My daughter was four and it was the first big snow we’d had since she was born. There were snow drifts at least 4 feet tall and for Oklahoma that’s deep. I bundled her up and sent her outside to play. She was leaping into the drifts, her whole body would get lost inside the snow, and then she would pop out again in a fit of laughter. Her laughter was magical.

After a bit I called her in and started to undress her and realized she had solid ice packed inside her boots. For a half second I let my concern show and asked her how come she didn’t tell me her ankles were frozen. When my husband asked what was going on I asked him if he would run a warm bath because I was worried about frostbite.

She heard me say frostbite, “MOM WHAT IS FROSTBITE? AM I GOING TO DIE?” snapping the concern and worry right off my face and out of my voice; I replied calmly, “NO, I ran a bath and you will be fine.”

“BUT WHAT IS FROSBITE?” she yelled out as if frostbite was the Stay Puft marshmallow man coming to exact doom on us all.

I learned a very valuable lesson that day about staying calm and focused around her.


“Mom, someone said my eyes will pop out if I wear goggles when jumping into the pool…do they look like they are going to pop out…because they feel funny.”

“WHAT? Who said that? NO your eyes will NOT pop out”

“Are you sure because they really feel like they could?”

“The only way your eyes might possibly pop out is if someone came along and plopped you into a HUGE vat of boiling water and I don’t think that will ever happen!” She laughed at my ridiculous over dramatization but I could tell she was still worried and explained why her eyes were not going to fall out.

When you have hypochondria, you become obsessed with the idea that you have a serious or life-threatening disease that hasn’t been diagnosed yet. This causes significant anxiety that goes on for months or longer, even though there’s no clear medical evidence that you have a serious health problem. ~ Mayoclinic.org

-I am worried my throat is going to close up and I will stop breathing.

-Do my tonsils look ok?

-Does my breath sound funny because I think I have asthma?

-I don’t think my lungs are working right.

-My friend had to go to the doctor for an earache and I am pretty sure my ears are hurting.

-Mom, can little kids get cancer or tumors and not know? Could I have cancer or a tumor?

-I hit my head I might have a concussion.

-I can’t breathe right are you sure I don’t have asthma?

Most of the time it won’t matter what I say she will ask a million other people the same question. After she stopped eating because she was worried she would choke I took her to the doctor.

“Wow you have big tonsils kiddo!”

“What? Is that bad? Will I have to get them out? Will I die?” she asked shooting off question after question.

“No it simply just means they are big” and he patiently explained what that meant. He looked at me with wide eyes and asked if she always worried so much and I shook my head yes.

He told her she was a perfectly healthy little girl.

A few weeks later she would not stop breathing in deep. Every 5 minutes she was taking a big breath and telling me she couldn’t breathe very well. I broke down and took her to the doctor because what if she did have asthma.

This doctor also told her she was perfectly healthy and the only thing she should be worried about is braiding her Barbie’s hair.


There is no real known CAUSE for hypochondria although personality, experiences, and inherited traits all play a role. I keep thinking back to the moment I thought she had frostbite. Did I cause her to be an over worrier? Did she inherit her over-analyzing obsessive behavior from me. Most likely, yes. Could I have somehow prevented this mental disorder? Probably not. The questions I ask myself are all fairly irrelevant anyway because regardless of why or how, it is an issue we must deal with. Anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder seem to go hand in hand with the hypochondria.

This weekend we went to the fair and her questions ranged from, do I have high blood pressure to do I have heart problems.  She tested her breathing before each ride and asked if I could hear asthma and asked if a small cut was going to give her lockjaw.  Despite all her worry she had an amazing time.  Last night she said she was worried she would kill herself from worry.


I need to figure this out with her AND I will figure this out.  I am patient with each worry and I never make light of them. I don’t laugh at her or get angry and I give her all the support I know how to give but it is something I can’t control.  She is in therapy and I can only pray she learns to deal with this in a very positive and productive way before it gets worse.  I see so much of me in her and I hope this is just a phase but I fear it is a life long battle I passed on to her.

I truly hope this is something we can help her conquer and all this medical knowledge will make her one of the finest doctors in her field someday.

23 thoughts on “WILL MY EYES POP OUT?

  1. “Last night she said she was worried she would kill herself from worry.”

    So, I didn’t know that she suffered like that. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.
    Also, I wasn’t aware (fully) that you suffered from Hypocondria as well.
    That phrase, above….is my worst nightmare. I’ts what I’ve tried to curtail for the last three years in Hana’s life. – Crystal


  2. Nicely written! I had a couple of kids a bit like that. What helped was trying to point out the miraculous nature of our bodies and how they heal themselves. There were trips to the doctor to assure the kids they didn’t have a brain tumor, a rare genetic disorder, a heart condition, you name it. LOL, I don’t advise this as a treatment, but my son went down the side of a mountain on his bike and got pretty banged up. It was kind of like confronting his fears, because once he realized he could get hurt and survive, he got more confident. Regardless, hang in there.


    • Thank you so much for the comment. I think you are right about learning from experience.

      She has lived pretty hurt free so I really do think she doesn’t understand that the body is amazing. So we work on that every time she has a concern.


  3. Ack. Such a tough situation. It really does sound as though you’re doing all you can to support her through it, and good for you.

    I don’t suppose it’s worth explaining that asthma is an autoimmune condition and if she doesn’t have it by now, she probably won’t get it (I think that’s the case…)?


  4. I think anything to do with our kids rips our hearts to pieces with my son it is the opposite and half the time he seems to have no perception of danger whatsoever and pain has to be serious before he even acknowledges it and even then I think half the time then he takes his cues from my nervous breakdowns and he then knows he should react, I have had so many nightmares over the potential dangerous situations he could place himself in, the feeling of helplessness as we can only watch, guide and hope with age and experience they earn to live with their differences and that those differences will not cause other issues at school and in their own social interactions guarantees our own anxiety levels are constantly high


  5. Poor baby girl! It’s good that you have patience with her fears. I know it has to be frustrating but I think it’s important. Hang in there and I’m sure with you on her side, things will work out okay. You know where I am if you need to talk.


  6. Oh wow. At first reading this, I thought it was so cut and a little funny. But then as I read I could really sense it was a serious problem. I myself have an anxiety disorder and a little OCD. My hubby jokes with me about it sometimes, and I chuckle about it. However, it really isn’t a laughing matter.
    “She is in therapy and I can only pray she learns to deal with this in a very positive and productive way before it gets worse.”
    –I will pray too for your beautiful little girl. I also have a little four year old girl. I also have a seven year old boy that has Asperger’s Syndrome. He is obsessed with Spider man, and actually super heroes in general. H started to say, “I don’t like Cauê (that’s his name)”. One day he stood in the middle of the kitchen with tears in his eyes and yelled out, “I’m going to kill Cauê”. So, as you can see, I certainly can empathize to a certain extent with what you’re going through.
    By the way, your daughter is beautiful.


  7. I think I mentioned this on FB the other night, but I do think it’s kind of part of being really smart and creative. (Not that all smart and creative people are hypochondriacs). My daughter is off an on with this type of thing. When I told her recently that because she’s so smart she thinks of all of the possible scenarios, she kind of like that. Not that it will fix the issue, but it seemed to make sense to her and make her feel a little less like a freak. (She’s 11 so she’s more aware that this isn’t typical behavior). And I hate it because I know she gets this from me. I just was more secretive about my dark thoughts at her age. Maybe that’s the good part of all of this, she feels completely safe and comfortable telling you her thoughts. I hope that therapy helps and that she gets through this.


  8. I guess I never realized that a child could have hypochondria to that degree. How incredibly stressful for all of you. I’ve noticed my four year old gets anxious about certain things. I keep going back to figure out if I’ve behaved in a way ot “encourage” it, but she is how she is. Just as I’m sure you might have made a comment in the past about a health concern, but your daughter’s brain turned it into something more than it was.

    How is she doing now? Is it better?


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