That Time I Was a Hypochondriac a Little Bit

hope at chatting at the skySeveral years ago when our kids were still in preschool, I went through what you might call a terrified-of-my-family-getting-sick stage. If someone mentioned during a playdate that their kid threw up the night before, I would gather my children that very moment and straight up leave their house.

If one of my kids complained of a tummy ache, I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. It got so bad that even if I read on Facebook that someone was sick, it would trigger the fear and obsessive hand-washing. I didn’t want to leave the house or let people come over because of the germ potential. I thought about sickness all day, every day and would look longingly at my friends who didn’t seem to be as worried as I was.

What would that kind of freedom be like?

I’m not sure I have good answers for anyone who is in that exact place right now. I can say that one of the reasons it was such a scary place to be was because it felt like things would never, ever change.

The trouble with fear is it tells you things will always be the way they are now.

I didn’t realize how bad it was that year until later when it wasn’t that way anymore. I bet you have seasons of life you look back on and wonder what your deal was. Why all the fear and obsession?!

Looking back helps me, though, because it reminds me that even though change may not come quickly or the way I want, change does eventually come.

What change are you hoping for these days?


  1. says

    I needed to read these words this morning: “The trouble with fear is it tells you things will always be the way they are now.”

    So, so true. I’ve had trouble sleeping lately, I think from a deep fear that my life will (and in other ways, will not) be the same forever. I have looked at others wondering what it would be like to be carefree, thinking I never am (or could be.) Thank you for the reminder this is just fear talking, and it’s not forever.

    • says

      Like you, I’ve been looking at others for awhile, wondering what it would be like to be so carefree (and in my case, recalling how I used to be but can’t seem to get back there). I thought when I crossed a big milestone (selling a house), I’d leap forward into a new life and it hasn’t panned out that way…yet. I feel more confused and stuck than ever. I too needed the reminder that it’s just fear talking. It’s not yet time, and I’m certain that when it is, and I’m where I’m going, I’ll be looking back and understanding that this time of discomfort was necessary.

  2. says

    Your two images reflect much of the change I am hoping for these days, Emily. Warm weather (they are telling us it’s going to SNOW tonight in Chicago–seriously!), play dates at the park, flip-flops, and all of that.

    But on a deeper level, the change I am most praying for also relates to fear. The fear that I am a fraud. That I will be discovered as such. That I have nothing worthwhile to say. That the critics will come down hard. As I reveal more of myself–the good, the bad, and the ugly–and as God graciously gives the words.

    I spent last week at the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids. And I was just reflecting on how I felt at this festival a few years back. A few years back I felt funny even calling myself “a writer” when people asked. So I do see Him growing and changing me. From the inside out. But those old demons die hard.

  3. MK says

    “I can say that one of the reasons it was such a scary place to be was because it felt like things would never, ever change.”

    … I guess this is where I’m at right now with trying to wait for a direction from God on how we go about adding to our family or if we are supposed to stop trying or if He is giving me something instead of children to help fill that longing/void. I feel like I’ve been in this place for so long… I feel like my younger years are escaping me as I try to patiently wait to hear from God…

    My fear is that I will forever feel like I’m missing something if we don’t have children. So thank you for the reminder that I won’t always feel this way. God will either give us a miracle baby, guide us toward adoption or give me a replacement desire.

  4. Shawna says

    Emily – You always have such a beautiful way with words, with sharing your struggles and successes in a way that offers incouragement, even if it seems like a non-answer of sorts (for you) – so often it is just what is needed.

    I felt compelled to share what’s going on in my life right now, not for pity in any way, but in celebrating that yes, things will change – and God carries us through it all.

    My husband was laid off from his job back in November and continue to look for employment, even now as the unemployment runs out. All the while, and for a couple of years now actually, my husband and I have been on a journey of struggling to start the family we long for. We are currently in the middle of IVF, which is incredibly exciting, but as you can imagine comes with additional stressors when we realize we have very little to fall back on if he does not get a job soon. My grandmother is also in kidney failure and could pass away at any time. But. But! God is good :) He is carrying us, and though I question his presence, his plan so many times, and even though to an outsider it looks as though my husband and I have completely questioned our faith (as we really pray and seek out what it means to truly be a follower of God and not ‘just’ a Christian) and walk away from everything we’ve ever known to be expected as a Christian… but we are stronger now than we’ve ever been – because of the questions, because we’ve accepted God in the unknown and without limitations like scripture that doesn’t make sense, or religion that doesn’t feel right. I have a job, even though my husband does not, and thank God I carry our benefits as well, which means we’ve had very little to pay out of pocket for our IVF treatments.

    It’s scary, all of it, all at once, and only days to my birthday too. It’s a lot to process, and I avoid thinking about it ‘all at once’ because of that. But I believe God has great plans for our lives, I believe he knows what we’re going through, what we would be going through when we’d finally receive the help and answers we needed on how to start our family, and he knows the plans he’s made for us. I don’t know that I’m always at peace, but I’m not in constant fear – I’ve given that over to him.

    We were so blessed to be with you and your family ‘At the Barn’, you gave me the sweetest hug and spoke with me and my husband, and I am so blessed at the work you and your family are doing through Hope*ologie. I’ve subscribed even when the money isn’t there, because this, this is God speaking to me, in my life, in my situation, and it brings me hope!

    Thank you for what you’re doing, and for sharing what you’ve been through – the struggles and victories too. This too will pass, and one day we’ll be surprised to see just how fast it all changes yet again. I am blessed, and I’m blessed that you’ve shared your heart. So bold and brave, so thank you!

  5. VHiggins says

    *sigh* Thank you Emily. It’s the “it’s always going to be like this” whisper that makes me want to hide away from everything and cry.
    My husband has been stuck in a ‘go nowhere’ job that has nothing to do with what he wants to do or what he got a degree for. The only + is that it helps us pay the bills (everything but income: benefits of any kind, come from my job). He’s been there for over 5 years now. It was supposed to be a stepping stone job, something to pay the bills until he found something that had ‘career’ in it, somewhere. But every single door that seemed to be open, has closed. That alone is scary and frustrating. Add in that we both strongly feel like God is saying “set it down and walk away” to any attempts to grow our little family of two… fear has been a serious struggle.
    (Anyone else seriously sick of hearing that “Oooohhh, you shouldn’t wait *too* long to start having kids”??!? Arrugghh!!)

  6. says

    This is so interesting. I wrote about fear today too. I never thought about the element of fear making us feel that things will never change. I am hoping to step out of a season of fear of conflict. And what a great exercise of looking back and seeing just what a lie that is that things will never be different! We do change. We ARE changing! Amen!

  7. Margaret says

    I am with Chelsie. The comment about fear telling you “things will always be the way they are now.” I am 53 and my mom is severely disabled from a stroke and lives 4 hours away. I visit her 2 times a month, but they are daytrips. Of the three “kids” I am the youngest, but have the responsibility for her affairs. Needless to say, my life is scheduled around my visits to her. I want to see her, but it is a huge challenge. She is well cared for in adult foster care (I am in Oregon and this type of care is for up to 5 people. So wonderful….very homey). I am thankful for that. But it is coming down hard on me and at my age it is easy to feel things will not change. Yes, some day the God will call her home, but my depression deepens over keeping up with it all. Nothing prepares you for this stage of life…parents needing care etc, even if you always thought about it!
    Emily, I thank you for your words of encouragement. I must look back and remember all the things God has done along the way. The end of this trial will come with my mom’s passing, which is a different a ending than my other life challenges, but that is the plain truth. Must be hopeful!

  8. Rebecca says

    Hi Emily,

    Yet again just another reason I love you. More and more I learn that healing is in the transparency. I really don’t like the performing Christians that work so hard to act like they’ve got it all together. That all of their struggles were left back on the streets, on the road to salvation. It’s through transparency that we connect with one another and can find peace and comfort. After all, isn’t that part of why God allows these battles? Specifically for us to comfort one another.

    It comforted me so much to hear you share those thoughts and feelings that many wouldn’t understand. The scary thing is I battle those exact same issues now and have for a year. It started during a scary time in my life and all the sudden I started intensely dealing with a fear of sickness and germs from basic colds to deadly illness. I don’t like the way it makes you restrict yourself and I don’t like the way it can create isolation. My responses and feelings often mirror yours exactly. One positive is I find it fluctuates in intensity. Sometimes I feel The Lord is helping me through, other times the fear is great and more frequent. It’s discouraging at times, yet i know God is working. It makes me fear having children because I don’t want to be that way when I have kids. I want to enjoy my kids completely without fear. I also want to be sure my fear doesn’t keep me from caring for them the way a mother needs to when they are sick. So I cling to the words you say. That fear tells you it’s forever, but it’s not. What do you think changed for you? Is it just that god makes you grow up as you have children and learn to deal with fear differently. Is it just that you have to become more focused on them and less on yourself and how you feel? I’m just curious as this has been an area of mine that I’m praying for freedom. Thank you so much for your honesty, it makes you even more lovable and shows your true heart.

  9. Patricia says

    Thank you, Emily, for your very timely words. My fears and feelings of hopelessness are almost debilitating right now. Having lost my husband five years ago to cancer and trying to raise two boys without a father has been downright difficult. Add to this some financial concerns and I’m feeling like I might be drowning. I’m feeling like things are never going to change. After all, it’s been five years. Shouldn’t I be farther along? I’m afraid to try new things or anything for that matter. I’m afraid to ask for help. I’m scared to stay where I am, but scared to be somewhere else. Paralysis is the word that comes to mind.

    I like when you said, “The trouble with fear is it tells you things will always be the way they are now.” Isn’t that exactly what fear does? But here’s the thing, fear doesn’t get the last word. God always gets the last word and He says He knows the plans He has for me. Plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Plans to give me hope and a future. That’s the final word. So, for today, no…for this moment…I’m going to cling to God’s words and try to salvage what little bit of hope I have.

    Thank you for stirring these thoughts in this very tired brain and allowing me a slight reprieve from the taunting of the ogre called fear.

  10. says

    I lived that exact same fear for way too many years-it got to the point where a child complaining of a stomach ache would trigger a full on panic attack, shortness of breath, heart racing and all of that.

    I realized that the enemy was keeping me in bondage and that God didn’t create his daughters to live in fear. Or bound to anything else for that matter. He promises freedom, but we have to actively fight for it.

    On the other side of those days, I believe God is nudging me to tell my story-how he brought me freedom from fear and control and host of other things. In fact, I’m working on a book about that very thing.

    How encouraging to know that I’m not the only one who has walked that strange fear of sickness road-and isn’t it wonderful to be on the other side where there’s freedom?

  11. says

    I really identified with this post today. When my sons were younger, I worried about everything. Now that they’re all grown up and on their own, it seems that I still worry about everything! I also know what it’s like to be a hypochondriac – it’s really a wretched thing.

    Now when it happens, I know that it’s usually a sign that I’m feeling overwhelmed. And then, I just rely on the Lord even more.

    I’ve been in a state of anxiety since my dad passed away in January. And yes, I sure hope it ends soon!


    Happy Easter!

  12. Bronwyn says

    Emily, thank you for your powerful words. I have battled depression since I was a teenager, not all the time but it seems to come in episodes. I am learning to turn to God in these times and not let fear and depression steal my joy and my time with my children. That’s the change I am hoping for. X

  13. says

    This made me laugh. Because I feel like we can all probably fill in the “hypochondriac” blank with: Remember that time I was extremely exhausted all the time a little bit? Remember that time my life was ruled by sippy cups a little bit?

    I’m visiting family right now and there are three little ones running around and my little ones are not that little anymore. I kind of forgot how hard it was.

  14. says

    Thank you for this reminder Emily. My husband is grieving the still-quite-recent sudden death of his father, and we are expecting our first baby in the summer. The combination of mixed emotions is often too much to bear, and I want to trust that things will get better, especially when the baby is born and my husband learns what it means to be a fatherless father.
    Thank you for the encouragement. I needed it!

  15. says

    I’m stuck on that word “hoping”.

    There are many things I’d like to see change, both in my little life and the world at large. In the sense that I imagine good things for the future, I hope. But is hope enough to make a change? It’s a good beginning, although there seems to be no way around it: change is an action to take.

    My aim today is rebuilding my life (after a divorce) on a foundation of love. It’s harder than I’d think to let love be the driving force behind everything I do – or don’t do. So far I’ve learned how fearful I am and that is something I more than hope will change. <3

  16. CW says

    I appreciate the sentiment of your post, which was lovely. However, please be sensitive to using the term hypochondriac lightly. For those who actually suffer from hypochondriasis on a daily basis, it can be a crippling mental illness.

  17. says

    I am in the midst of letting go of my family. Very painful. But it’s a process that needs to happen and that God has made very real lately. I am hoping I can move from ‘being in touch with my family out of hoping to ever become a healthy and loving family’, to being in touch with them ‘out of freedom and embracing what we are and mostly what we are not’. I am grieving my loss and hope to move towards healing and freedom. I can’t control us being healthy and whole, we are not and I can’t change that, I can only change and heal me (through God who gives me strength.) Does that make sense?

  18. says

    I feel like I could have written the first part of this. This is where I am currently at. I have a four year old and two year old and am CONSTANTLY afraid they are going to get sick. Thank you for writing this. Needed to hear that about fear.

    Right now, we are in the process of finding a house to rent. We have about two weeks and haven’t found anything in the area we’re looking within our price range. Fear tells me that God doesn’t care and that what we feel He has called us to (this specific community) is a lie. Praying for change in my heart to believe that He is faithful to the calling He gives us and that He is also faithful to give us peace in the midst of the unknown.

  19. says

    This post really resonated with me. As a mom of two little ones, our normally healthy family has been sick a LOT this past winter. It’s gotten to me in ways that make me want to cancel all activities and hide until they’re grown. Hearing you say that you were once afraid of that made me feel less weird. And your words about letting fear (of any sort!) grip me were challenging and exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you.

  20. says

    “it felt like things would never, ever change.”

    Just today and last week with another, I was talking with friends about feeling stuck. The whole world moving around and forward and living their dreams and I sit feeling stuck.

    I do feel like things won’t change and I do live in fear. All. the. time.

    Hope scares me. That’s the very reason I sacrificed with money that isn’t there to sign up for Hope*ologie. My hope is in Him but I need pushes and reminders from His people.

    I honestly don’t know what I’m hoping for right now and I don’t WANT to give up hope!

  21. says

    Emily – You said it all here – ‘The trouble with fear is it tells you things will always be the way they are now.’ These words have given me a brand new persepctive.

    I have shared them here -

    Blessings for your wisdom shared …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *