On a warm Sunday morning in early-April this year, I got up with some pain in the little finger of my left hand. It was a small bump. It wasn’t there when I slept the previous night, so it seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.
“You may have hurt your finger while sleeping,” said my wife.
“But there’s no sign of a cut or bleeding!” I told her. “What could be this?”
“It happens sometimes,” she tried to soothe my nerves.
Anyways, a week passed, and then two, and that bump got slightly bigger. It was a bit painful earlier, then more, and then the pain gradually reduced. But the redness and the bump remained.
Over the next two months, I saw around five different doctors, and all asked me to wait and watch and do nothing. I thought none of these doctors knew anything about this bump because each one had named it differently. And that is when I did something I now realize was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life.
I started searching the Internet for a possible explanation of my issue. “Red bump on small finger,” “small finger bump + 2 months,” “small red bump on finger + no pain + eight weeks,” etc. were just three of the hundred searches I made on Google. Each time I got different answers and mostly hinting that that was it for me. Some sites suggested I had developed arthritis, while some even told me that I possibly had cancer.
This got me worried. In fact, I got so worried reading all the “life threatening” stuff that came to be – because I invited them into my mind and conscious – that I finally got down to creating a Will, just in case something was to happen to me soon.
My wife thought I had become a maniac. I felt like a zombie. And a few doctors I showed told me that I needed a psychiatrist. And then, a couple of psychiatrists I went to, recommended me a few months’ dose of anti-depressants, which thankfully I never took beyond the first dose.
“So, you want to see the sixth doctor?” my wife asked after two months had passed. I could realize that she was very disturbed seeing me in a constant state of worry.
“Yeah, let’s go,” I told her. And then, over the next two more months, I met five more doctors. One of them, likely aware that my condition was more psychological than real, took advantage of it and sent me for some expensive brain scans. I took those tests, and they suggested that my brain was working perfectly fine.
Anyways, the constant searches on the Internet continued, though at a reduced frequency. The fear of disease and dying early had already taken a steady space in my brain’s attic. And the repercussions were seen in my daily life. My focus on work reduced. I got constant chills and burning sensations in my hands and feet during the day (which, by the way, Google told me were a symptom of Multiple Sclerosis). I was restless at night. In short, I truly felt like a zombie who had no clue what to do, and where to seek help.
Now you may be wondering, in case you are still reading this, “Why is Vishal telling me his sob story today?” Well, one reason is that I am still alive and happily so. And second is that, like I do on my each birthday – today is my 38th – I would like to share a very important lesson I learned thanks to this above-mentioned situation I went through this year. I call it the…
38th Lesson from 38 Years of My Life
A wise man (or maybe a woman) once said –
Be careful in your words when you are in a crowd, and be careful in your thoughts when you are alone.
I have always adhered to the first part of the above saying but never gave much thought to the second part. That is till I went through the harrowing period this year.
Anyways, it was a lucky coincidence that I picked up Peter Bevelin’s book on Sherlock Holmes during those times and read this wonderful part where Holmes tells this to Watson –
I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it.
Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. he will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.
I have been that fool, per Sherlock Holmes, who took in all the junk of every sort that he came across through his reading of symptoms and the possible diseases on the Internet. That wasn’t the stuff that would have made me happy, or bright, or even medically competent. But I took them all, despite constantly experiencing the repercussions on my mind and life. And that was ultimately foolish.
It was then that the lesson of being careful in my thoughts when I was alone got ingrained in my psyche. Apart from my wife, one wonderful book that helped me a lot during those times was Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. I now read one page from the book each night before sleeping, and it helps.
I am not a wreck anymore like I was a few months back. Family support, meditation, mindfulness, Yoga, and a renewed focus on work have helped me get my sanity back on track. So please don’t stop reading what I write on Safal Niveshak. 😉
But if there is one lesson you must learn this year from someone else’s mistake – and now you know that someone – it is that you must be very careful in what you think when you are alone, because you may attract in your life what you may be constantly thinking.
In fact, you must be more careful because even the best and soundest of minds are not immune to such periods in their lives. Of course, I am not talking about myself but Charles Darwin who was a hypochondriac – a person who suffers from health anxiety or a constant worry about having a serious illness. The last doctor I met in August this year told me that I suffered from hypochondriasis.
Anyways, as I shared above, I’ve learned my lesson (I hope so) the hard way. And in hindsight, I realize that I have been lucky to get away with it quite easily after having read how so many people fall into a state of depression through constant worrying.
So please take the lesson I’ve shared above. And please, when in doubt, and especially about your health, do not read the Internet and please don’t trust what it tells you. What you read online may kill you even earlier than what an actual disease may do.
May God bless you with a happy and healthy life.