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My friend is obsessed with being ill - what to do?

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My friend is obsessed with being ill - what to do?

Postby Callas » Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:27 am

Hello everyone,

I have come here to ask for help and advice with regards to how I should approach a friend who I strongly suspect is suffering from Munchausen Syndrome.

We have been friends for more than 20 years, and she has so many great qualities that I treasure in her. However, her concern and apparent obsession with doctors, examinations and hospitals is beginning to become a burden for our friendship. To make a long story short: Apparently, a medical emergency is always going on with her - honestly, there is no disease or medical condition that she has not sought examinations and treatment for. There is no week in which she does not consult or try to consult several doctors and hospitals or goes to the ER with some symptoms, which - to me - always sound as if she is basically reading them aloud from a medical textbook. I don't know how to put this exactly, but for someone not having a medical education, her use of words about her symptoms are always too clinical and professional somehow. She is always very vague and mysterious about the results of her tests and examinations.

Somehow things always tend to escalate when I go on a holiday. Yesterday, she texted me that she was going in for an emergency check-up today on the suspicion of having tongue cancer, and she was very dramatic about it saying that they would give her loads of tests, bloodwork, etc. and that she feared for her life. So, today she texted me that the doctors had not found anything, everything was fine and that she was SO relieved. There was something about it all that just seemed so off to me, and to be honest, I am really tired of always feeling that she wants to scare me whenever I go away for a while. She has been diagnosed with borderline disorder, but refuses to acknowledge this diagnoses, otherwise she is physically healthy.

I know from experience that she likes texting and that texting often seems the best and easiest way for her to discuss difficult issues, so I texted her asking whether perhaps she felt she needed this medical attention somehow underscoring that I was really genuinely concerned for her. She answered, "You can be certain that is not the case." (She is only this brief, when she is angry.)

Honestly, I don't know what to do now. I love her, but am also sick and tired of feeling that I am being manipulated. I would really appreciate any input about how to handle this situation and save our friendship (if possible.) Thanks very much in advance!
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Re: My friend is obsessed with being ill - what to do?

Postby thelast » Fri Apr 12, 2019 1:03 am

Her wound is deep. Whatever she has, her wound is deep. And this kind of wound has a chance to heal (and the behaviour disappear) only if it is seen by her. As long as she doesn't dig into this, it will stay the same. She might all of a sudden have a traumatic event that would make her fall into introspection. Or maybe this will never happen.
In the meantime, you feel worse and worse. You, being close to her, may have a feeling about how possible is that change. If this seems endless to you, it probably is. And you must protect yourself. Chances are, the way you'll choose to protect yourself will also be that push that will cause some shift in her worldview as well.
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