Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

8 Real Diseases I Was Convinced I Had, But Really I Was Just Exhausted

I haven't had a full night's sleep in, well, forever. I'm totally exhausted and, to make matters worse, my body hurts. Between my work out boot camp, staring at my phone, picking up my baby, and walking a path from his crib to my bed (sometimes all at the same time), I have more than a few aches and pains. So, I spend my sleepless nights watching Grey's Anatomy and Googling my symptoms (real and imagined), which is how I stumbled across a list of real diseases I was convinced I had. Which, take it from me, was a terrible idea, especially for a tired, overwhelmed, still-healing postpartum mom with anxiety.

If I've learned one thing from these late night web searches and related panic attacks, it's that no good can come from consulting Dr. Google. I mean it. It's pretty impossible to apply logic and reason to your thought process when you're trying to exist on nothing but caffeine and the distant memory of sleep. So I say it's nothing short of understandable when you inevitably think your fatigue and head ache are symptoms of rare and unlikely conditions. You will probably start to panic, and wonder if maybe your insomnia might actually be your body trying to kill you because it definitely feels like it. You feel nauseated at the thought that you might be dying, and wonder to yourself, "Could I be pregnant?" So, you take a dozen pregnancy tests to be sure, because there's no way in hell you'll go through another difficult pregnancy right now (or maybe that's just me?).

I totally think I might be dying, which is another sign I should probably stop watching Grey's Anatomy, lest it give me nightmares when I finally manage to get some damn sleep. And while I know firsthand that living with a chronic illness is no laughing matter, sometimes laughing is the best medicine for hypochondriacs like me. Read on (if you dare) for a list of real diseases I have totally Googled late at night, only to convince myself I absolutely had.

Lyme Disease

After an afternoon of hiking in the grove behind our house a few weeks ago, my daughter came home with a tick on her leg. After screaming (silently) and calmly administering first aid like a boss, I started to worry about Lyme disease, an illness spread by ticks that can cause fatigue, night sweats, and pain (all of which I totally have). I just read that cases are spiking all over the country.

Of course I know I can't catch Lyme disease from my kid, but I still worry. I hate nature.


I'm having a hard time "losing the baby weight," I am tired, I have no energy, and my hair is falling out. I was starting to get scared that my symptoms were a sign of something serious, and when I typed them into WebMD the site suggested that I might have hypothyroidism. I even went so far as mentioning this to my doctor, who then ordered some labs to check. I was shocked when they came back normal. Of course, all of those symptoms might just mean I'm postpartum and my baby never sleeps.


Having been pregnant in the past year, I was seriously concerned about Zika. If you watch the local news (and you probably never should), it's easy to worry about catching it, especially during mosquito season. Never mind that I live about as far away from the coast as a person can live. But, seriously, I have heard that it causes fatigue, joint pain, and head aches. I do have a head ache, but maybe that's just from lack of sleep.


To be fair, I actually do have Rheumatoid Arthritis. However, it's been in remission for more than a decade. Now, when I get the slightest bit sore, stiff, or tired, my mind immediately wonders if it's back. The trouble is I have a baby, teach fitness classes, and often sleep hunched over the baby's crib, willing him to fall back asleep. Of course I am sore, stiff, and tired, I'm a mom.


I'm a huge fan of medical dramas, which is probably not good for my disease-related anxiety. The doctors on House always think their patient has Lupus at first, only to discover that it's actually something rare and mysterious. However, when I researched Lupus symptoms on the internet, it seems like a possibility. I mean, I have exhaustion, pain, and mental fog. Of course my doctor told me that it's not Lupus, and I should get more sleep. Easier said than done.

Fatal Insomnia

Did you know that people have literally died from lack of sleep? Yep, it's true, and considering how little I have slept lately, I am pretty sure that I am at risk.

Then again, maybe the problem is that I am just awake at night worrying about what diseases I may have contracted.


Maybe my problem isn't physical at all. It could be that I am a hypochondriac, and my sickness is all in my head. It's entirely possible, or I could just be out of my mind with exhaustion. Eh, maybe both.


Dizziness ? Check. Exhaustion ? Check. Nausea? Check. OMG, what if I am pregnant? No, I can't be. At least, I don't think it's likely, since I had my tubes tied a few months ago.

You may not think of pregnancy as a disease — it's more like a parasite really — but all joking aside, pregnancy nearly killed me. I never want to be pregnant again. The thought of facing an unplanned pregnancy right now is seriously scary. Besides, pregnancy would give me a whole new list of symptoms to Google. I will just take a pregnancy test (or maybe a dozen) to be sure.