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A mum has opened up about her devastating nine-hour a day Googleaddiction which saw her try to take her own life.
Cherelle Farrugia, 28, said she was like an alcoholic "shaking… having panic attacks" when made to go cold-turkey by her family.
She said she entered a vicious circle searching for medical advice to ease anxieties over becoming a new mum.
Cherelle told WalesOnline they ended up fueling her hypochondria which spiraled out of control after her "first fatal error" three years ago.
The mum-of-two, of Fairwater, Cardiff, said she found a swollen lymph node in her groin two weeks after giving birth.
"I decided to Google it, which is not something I’ve ever done before – in the past I would just ring the doctor. That was literally where I made my first fatal error.
"I remember that day I Googled for about six hours non-stop while I was breastfeeding, just reading, reading, reading and I convinced myself that I had lymphoma.
"That was the start of it. For about three months I was very, very mentally unwell.
"I’d say things like I’m going upstairs to have a bath and I’d be up there for about two hours because I’d be Googling.
"On an iPhone you can see how much time you've spent on there and at my worst it would be eight, nine hours a day."
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She paid for multiple scans for lymphoma, wrote letters to her daughter and put together photo albums "because I really, truly, believed my own delusion.
"I would Google every chance I could. I feel ashamed to say it but I’d neglect other things, the washing wouldn’t be done, the dishes wouldn’t be done because in my mind, my priority and the way I used to look at it was I needed to figure out what was wrong with me because no-one else believed me and I had this responsibility to figure it out for myself.
"Whatever symptom I had at that time I would Google it and attach myself to whatever illness I thought it was.
"Every time I would know Googling isn’t really going to help me but because of that glimmer of hope you continue to do that."
Her family and partner stepped in and took her phone from her and changed her laptop's passwords.
"One day I was so desperate I walked down to the library to Google, I was that obsessive because I didn’t have access to anything else," Cherelle said.
"It was like taking alcohol from an alcoholic, I was shaking, I was having panic attacks."
Her conditions improved until she suffered complications while pregnant with her son River.
She tried to take her life six days after he was born and had daily visits to the hospital with seizures from extreme stress.
Cherelle, who saw her mother lose her own mother, believes her illness was triggered by "the responsibility of being a mother and being obsessed with this idea of me wanting to be around for them forever".
She has replaced her Google "safety behaviours" with "mindfulness", saying: "If I feel myself going a bit downhill I talk to people."
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
- In the News
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