Self-Diagnosing

Self-diagnosing on the World Wide Web may be the best thing that ever happened to hypochondria.

Web MD, the Mayo Clinic, and any number of other highly-regarded sources will be happy to enumerate and describe in frightening detail every possible illness of which that itch in your left armpit could be a symptom. With prognoses. And recommended treatments. And probably advice that you should see your doctor immediately (this being one good way to enhance your doctor’s income).

I haven’t done the study; I don’t know that anyone has, but it would be interesting to see if there’s a direct correlation between Internet traffic volume and medical revenue.

Truth be told, when it comes to actual medical conditions I’m pretty much the opposite of a hypochondriac: “Ah ha! I managed to find a website that says not to worry about it. I won’t worry about it!”

But emotional and psychological conditions are a different story.

The main characters in my story are Asperger’s Syndrome and OCD, both with the first name “Mild.”

Here’s one description—from the Internet, of course, and there are many—of Asperger’s: social withdrawal, prodigious memory, interest in collecting and naming things, prone to outbursts, obsession with order, high IQ, unusual ability in science, and learning to speak very early.

That actually sounds kind of cool.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, on the other hand, is pretty much self-explanatory and doesn’t sound quite so cool.

Do I really “have” either of these conditions? Let’s see….

There’s the issue of where I get my energy and that has always been very clearly defined. I get it from being alone. Interacting with a group of people, or even one other person, tires me out very quickly and I have to be alone to recharge. That could just mean I’m a big-time introvert.

Everything in my house is in its proper place—or, if it’s not, I don’t know where the hell it is and I probably can’t find it. That could just mean I’m well-organized and/or kind of ditzy about misplacing things.

I’ve always considered twelve to be my lucky number and in fact I do a lot of things by twelves. I do twelve minutes on the punching bag. I spend seventy-two minutes (six times twelve) on the treadmill. I do twelve leg lifts for my abs. I do six (half of twelve) reps with the weights…. And that’s just my exercise routine. I like even numbers and I like twelves. That’s maybe a  little symptomatic. There could be something to this self-diagnosing business after all.

On the whole, though, I suspect that “mild” really means “not.” Maybe I’m just a duodecimal kind of guy who never learned to socialize very well and likes to be neat.

Or maybe I’m a writer.

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