So you're best friend's a hypochondriac. She looks fine In fact, she looks better than most of your other friends the same age. She seems cope fine with everyday life. She manages all the everyday activities just fine (that you can see). However she is always complaining about her health. She stresses out about every little cough or mole. She is always trawling the Internet looking for new ailments with which to diagnose herself. She knows more medical terms than the Oxford Medical Dictionary and yet there is Nothing Wrong With Her.
You wish she would see that this is all in her head and she is fine. Because then she could move on and live her life: and more importantly, her "problems" wouldn't be sucking your time away from your own REAL problems: your mom's increasing dependence on you since your dad's death and your son's struggles in school. If she could walk a few miles in your shoes she would see what real problems are and that would make her realize how lucky she is and shut her up. You are very frustrated with her behavior.
So you come to One Sick Mother (-not knowing my Secret Internet Identity) for advice:
Well, here is my advice to you:
Either you are her friend or you are not. Make a choice and stick with it.
If you are not going to be her friend; walk away and tell her why. Do not renege or ping-pong on this decision because that will be harder on you both. Really I mean this: If you are not going to support her and take her condition seriously: Walk away.
"But I can be her friend if she will only stop with all this hypochondria crap" I hear you cry"
The thing is: She can't. Her "hypochondria" is part of who she is. Friends are a package deal. They do not come a la carte. You cannot choose which parts of them you like and try to remove or change the parts you don't. This is also true of husbands. Or wives. So stick with the whole friend or walk away.
So let's say you decide to stick with your friend. What then?
"How do I deal with her hypochondria?" you ask. She is always looking to me for medical information and opinions. I don't want to encourage her in her mental illness. I can't be her enabler."
OK. So now who's spouting pseudo-psychological TV bullshit? "Enabler?" Puleeease!
How do you know your friend is not actually sick and undiagnosed? Are you a doctor? How do you know she is "mentally ill"? Are you a psychiatrist? Oh you're not. I see. Well, was it because her doctor said so? Is he a psychiatrist? No? we then he cannot diagnose hypochondria. So maybe he's just incompetent and blaming her for his failures (ever thought of that?)? Ask yourself this: How would you feel if -after months or years, it turned out that she actually has a rare or little understood condition? Would you feel glad about all those roadblocks you have put in the way so as not to "enable" her in her very valid quest to find treatment? No. You'd probably be sorry. Or pissy and defensive. Or all three.
So why not take the conservative approach and support her?
Because let's face it: although there are probably some real hypochondriacs out there, just as there are real people with Munchhausen's Syndrome; However, the vast majority of people who are labeled as "hypochondriacs" eventually end up with a valid medical diagnosis.
In that case, the diagnosis usually comes out on autopsy. "Oh! If only I'd known... " you might cry, But your friend knew. She tried to tell you, and you didn't bloody listen. Because you didn't want to '"enable" her. So you ignored her and enabled her death. Pat yourself on the back. Job well done.
We all have a little voice inside ourselves which is our guiding force. Call it what you will: intuition, instinct, God, your gut. It is the thing that tells you when someone is lying or if a situation just doesn't feel right. It is the thing that made you argue with the doctor when your kid was sick and he said nothing was wrong. It is the reason you don't trust that guy in the bookstore -despite the fact that he has been nothing but nice to you. It is the one voice you always regret ignoring. Because if you spurn or ignore an instinct, you usually regret it (if you live).
You friend has that voice too. It is telling her that something is not right in her body, but the doctors cannot tell her what is wrong. Her symptoms may be too unspecific or intermittent. They don't fit into a neat pigeonhole. And guess what: she looks great! (she probably eats right and takes all her vitamins). So the fatigue must be depression. The doc writes a script for anti-depressants to get her out of his hair, and so the downward spiral begins.
Because your friend doesn't understand how she could be depressed when she doesn't feel depressed. She hasn't lost interest in the things she loves. She has lost the energy to do them. Of course if time continues and she still feels this bad, she will become depressed. It hasn't happened yet, but everyone seems to be willing it so. Putting the cart before the horse, so so speak. And she is stuck, facing down both barrels of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and unable to do a thing about it.