Normal People’s Daisy Edgar-Jones on how she’s dealing with anxiety-induced hypochondria

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Normal People’s Daisy Edgar-Jones has addressed her struggles with anxiety – particularly her experiences with hypochondria – during an appearance on Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast

In BBC Three’s Normal People, she’s Marianne Sheridan, the outspoken young woman who finally finds herself part of a friendship group after securing a place at Trinity College Dublin. 

In real life, however, Daisy Edgar-Jones decided to put off attending university to focus on her acting career.

Of course, things worked out: she is now the star of one of the most talked-about TV shows in years. During a recent appearance on Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail podcast, though, Edgar-Jones has opened up about her mental health, revealing that the immediate aftermath of her decision caused her to struggle with anxiety and hypochondria.

“It’s heartbreaking [to lose out at an audition] and there’s the odd one that’s really hard to get over. And sometimes, when I didn’t get those parts, I’d spiral into doubts about whether I should go to university,” she said.

Edgar-Jones continued: “I didn’t get work. I auditioned and I got close, and I found that very anxiety-making and I really struggled for a while.

“When I feel anxious, it sort of comes out in different ways for me. One of the ways is I kind of struggle a bit with hypochondria. I had a lot more free time because my friends were away at [university] living their best life … and I was thinking, ‘Gosh, am I missing out on life experience?’ and so I would get quite anxious.”

“It sort of comes in waves. I’ve sort of had it for a while, and I just think it’s my way kind of way of dealing with anxiety,” the actor added.

Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne in Normal People.

As per the NHS, health anxiety (sometimes called hypochondria) is when you spend so much time worrying you’re ill, or about getting ill, that it starts to take over your life.

Signs of this include:

  • constantly worrying about your health
  • frequently checking your body for signs of illness, such as lumps, tingling or pain
  • always asking people for reassurance that you’re not ill
  • worrying that your doctor or medical tests may have missed something
  • obsessively looking at health information on the internet or in the media
  • avoiding anything to do with serious illness, such as medical TV programmes
  • acting as if you’re ill (for example, avoiding physical activities)

During her chat with Day, Edgar-Jones said her hypochondria “comes out in a sort of need to control” her life.

“If I see a rash for example, I’m like, OK. If I really need to overthink that and Google the heck out of that, then I’m controlling it in some way. If I find out that it’s something really sinister, I’ve caught it before it could potentially become something worse,’ ” she said.

“I would kind of get a little bit obsessive over certain things [as a result].”.

Nowadays, though, Edgar-Jones isn’t letting anxiety hold her back.

“I can laugh about it now, and I have found ways to deal with it, which is really good,” she said.

“More than anything, [it’s] not letting myself Google stuff. If I believe in the irrational thought, then I’ll panic myself. But if I make sure I realise it isn’t [true], then it’s fine.”

For more information on hypochondria, including self-help advice, visit the NHS website now.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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