Boyfriend's obsession with being ill/finding problems is getting me down.

(44 Posts)
RedDeadinBed Fri 16-Nov-12 11:45:34

Ever since I've known DP he's been a worrier. When we first started talking he would constantly bring up stuff that was worrying him or illnesses he thought he might have.

The big thing is that he has been suffering pains and convinced himself he had cancer. He went backwards and forwards to doctors until they agreed to a full blood count - that came back clear. Still not happy, he carried on complaining of pains so they sent him for an MRi, that came back clear. Still not convinced, he went back and they sent him for a lumbar puncture. Now he's been worrying about the results of this for weeks now and I asked him what he intended to do if they came back clear - he said he would be happy with that.

Well, they have come back clear and now he's decided he wants another blood test doing. I sympathise with him as his father died recently of cancer and I know what it's like to convince yourself you have a terminal illness but I feel like his obsession is coming inbetween us. It's like he can never just be happy, he always has to find something to worry about.

I tried to reason with him that if all these tests have come back clear, it's a pretty positive sign that he hasn't got anything nasty and so he said he can't understand why he's always so tired if there is nothing wrong with him - this soon turned into a "maybe I need to take it easy and not do as much" which I kinda took as him saying he won't be seeing me as much as he needs to rest. Which would be fine if he was genuinely ill but how many tests is it going to take to convince him that he isn't ill??

The thing is, it happens in all areas of his life. He's reluctant to move our relationship on as he's constantly worried about his kids reaction. The youngest is 15 and they've known about me for months - yet he won't let me meet them.

He wants to come on holiday with me, yet is reluctant as he's worried about what his kids will think if they find out.

He's constantly analyzing his divorce and what it has done to his kids.

He's constantly worrying about his sister who has a disabled child.

I think, deep down he's worried about getting too involved with me incase I hurt him.

Everything is a worry with him. It drains me. Sometimes I wonder if he's just got too much going on for me to cope with? sad

There is 10 years between us. I'm 30, he's 40. Is it the age gap?

SpicyPear Sat 17-Nov-12 12:14:30

Exactly helpyourself. Good post.

I've had anxiety issues and DH was brilliant, but he's my DH of several years, not a new partner. The relationship boards are full of posters agonising about and martyring themselves to try to help and support short term DPs who are not demonstrating any committment. I would not have expected any recent boyfriend who I wouldn't introduce to family to have put up with my issues at that time. I'd have understood and respected them more for backing off, at least until I had my shit together!

helpyourself Sat 17-Nov-12 12:05:48

Please, all posters who feel attacked by the ltbers.
If a poster posted about having these feelings, or worried about a long term partner, relation or even acquaintance my advice would be very different.
It's only in the contex of a new relationship, where he's not showing sign of commitment that I think the OP should put her self first.
thanks to anyone feeling 'got at'.

OldCatLady Sat 17-Nov-12 10:43:01

It sounds like he has something called Münchausen syndrome. Often these people 100% believe they are ill, most literature on it says they do it for attention, but actually some people almost do it subconsciously, like when you tell a white lie without even thinking about it , and then they actually start to believe it themselves. It can be hard for them to understand nothing is wrong. Just an avenue to consider.

www.nhs.uk/conditions/Munchausens-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx

GhostShip Sat 17-Nov-12 10:35:07

Merci - my mums friend is going to pay for me to go private, I've ended up in A&E more than once because morphine is the only thing that helps when the pain comes. Its sad because it's not all the time, just when Im unlucky sad

I would just like to be healthy because I'm hoping to go to uni to train to be a midwife (or maybe a nurse) and I wont be able to if it carries on like this grr

mercibucket Sat 17-Nov-12 10:28:04

That sounds horrendous, ghostship. Have you tried a different GP, fresh eyes and all that?

Allonsy Sat 17-Nov-12 10:28:00

Some of these replies are horrible tbh, i have an anxiety disorder, its not my personality, im not a drama queen and im not pathetic. My problems are the product of a shit load of stress, nastiness and worry at a young age that has moved into my adult hood and can be totally debilitating. I have suffered from the age of 17, im now 28. My problems go in circles, ive sufferd health anxiety, social phobia and panic disorder i constantly battle against them and i get better for a while then bang i go downhill massively, at my worst i didnt leave the house for months, didnt open the curtains or answer the telephone. I convinced myself i was going to die that i had cancer, a brain tumour, DVT etc every headache or chest pain would through me into a panic attack, id start hyperventilating making things worse. Ive seen many gp's and finally got great support from one, anti anxiety meds and lots of talking has really helped over the years but i still sometimes start slipping back.

The symptoms we have ARE REAL my gp has confirmed this, people with anxiety disorders put their bodies into a state of worry that creates real pain and intensifies it, its very difficult to know when what your feeling IS something to panic about or not and can be very dangerous in that way. Ive had it confirmed that my levels of cortisol are always increased even when i think im calm.

The one thing that has got my through it all is my DH, he has for 11 years seen me at my worst, reassured me, been patient, done everything for me when i couldnt leave the house, or make a call, attend appointments etc he done it all for me because he loves me despite it and generally we have a fab relationship. My anxiety goes into all areas of my life i function normally enough these days i can go out and go about my life just fine, but inside i still worry and over analyse everything, i need a definity control over my life, what i wear, what i eat where i go i now dislike change.

I wont deny how hard it must be for a partner but dont think the sufferer just needs to man up, or get a grip, or think positive it dosnt work like that. Sounds like your dp isnt as bad as me/i was, yet anyway and i urge him to seek help and for you to just be there to listen.

SpicyPear Sat 17-Nov-12 10:02:12

He does sounds as if he has an anxiety disorder. It's hard enough to support someone through it in a fully committed relationship, but he is keeping you at arm's length. In your situation I would seriously be considering the relationship.

GhostShip Sat 17-Nov-12 09:57:39

DE not re

GhostShip Sat 17-Nov-12 09:56:24

walkacrossthesand - I wish it was as simple as that. But the ones I have are rehabilitating. I'm on anti sickness tablets constantly, tired all the time, and (TMI) when I orgasm I flood blood and have the most horrendous pain. But have been told I just need to live with it because there's no reason for it. Ah well..

ninah Fri 16-Nov-12 22:42:58

what, op, attracts you to a worrier?

Mumsyblouse Fri 16-Nov-12 22:40:49

mercibucket I know what you are saying, there are people who are misdiagnosed, but in this case, it fits better with a generalized anxiety disorder, and that is how he is. A relative of mine has had this for over forty years and it wears you out enormously as they are never reassured by symptoms and even if it dies back, when there is anxiety you go through it again and again, even now he has tests all the time and of course there is nothing there (one day there will be after forty years of course!) I think it can be changed if the person is willing to go into CBT or other types of counselling, but in my relative's case, they reject all psychological explanations and continue the merry go round. I wouldn't choose this life with someone from the outset unless they were willing to go for help or developed it later in the relationship, it is just wearing and this guy sounds like there are so many negatives, you end up being their mother.

mercibucket Fri 16-Nov-12 22:36:29

All the people I know in rl with 'health anxiety' just had actual illnesses the GPs hadn't diagnosed, so I'd be more likely to be investigating every avenue, checking his test results myself, and googling. That's what my life experience has taught me to do. I would now never believe there was nothing wrong if someone in my life said they felt ill but the GP said all was fine. It could of course be some kind of anxiety, but maybe it is a b12 deficiency, thyroid problem, vitamin d deficiency, ME etc. Are you sure all those have been tested for and ruled out?

mercibucket Fri 16-Nov-12 22:36:29

All the people I know in rl with 'health anxiety' just had actual illnesses the GPs hadn't diagnosed, so I'd be more likely to be investigating every avenue, checking his test results myself, and googling. That's what my life experience has taught me to do. I would now never believe there was nothing wrong if someone in my life said they felt ill but the GP said all was fine. It could of course be some kind of anxiety, but maybe it is a b12 deficiency, thyroid problem, vitamin d deficiency, ME etc. Are you sure all those have been tested for and ruled out?

RedDeadinBed - how long have you been seeing this man, and, more importantly, WHY are you still seeing him? Serious question, as you say he's been like this since you've known him. What made you persevere, because I know I'd have been very unlikely to have gone on a second date with him?

Was it because there are positives to him? Or because you have some need to 'fix' him? Why?

Dawndonna Fri 16-Nov-12 22:02:15

As has been said, CBT would probably help considerably.

helpyourself Fri 16-Nov-12 21:41:55

Scherezade nothing in the ops post suggests she owes him anything more than she owes a duty of care to a colleague or neighbour. He has family he's loath to introduce her to and he's backing off- why she should she age 30 and, I think, childless shackle herself to someone who is bringing her nothing but problems.
My personal experience is I think relevant: I've suffered from debilitating anxiety and addiction. In both (related and overlapping) cases my family were incredibly supportive, and I'm incredibly grateful to them. But I didn't turn up on their doorstep with all these problems, which seems to be the case here. If any of my children were in the relationship the op describes, less than a year in, I'd advise them to run.

BridgetBidet Fri 16-Nov-12 21:26:41

Has he discussed Fibromyalgia/ME with his docs? I'm no expert but it's possible.

Scheherezade Fri 16-Nov-12 21:21:48

helpyourself I hope you never have the misfortune to experience depression, and I hope no one you know has to experience YOU if they ever suffer it.

Apathy, lack of motivation, catastrophising, believing there IS no hope, withdrawing. All classic symptoms. Depression is a selfish disease. But it is just that, a disease.

Jossysgiants Fri 16-Nov-12 21:12:04

Sorry - I see that you mention his recent bereavement, but was the anxiety triggered by this or did it pre date it?

Jossysgiants Fri 16-Nov-12 21:07:57

Another vote for Cbt here.. I have had this quite badly. But as a positive story I am now fine and have been so for at least 2 years. So i believe there is hope he could get a hold of his anxiety and your life and relationship together would be improved. . Recognising the circular thinking is key. I would use my Dh for 'reassurance' which the Cbt counsellor told me was perpetuating the cycle of worry. Equally tests/ scans etc will have the same effect- only temporary relief. Difficult situation for you - I would suggest that the reasoning you are doing with him should stop. I know it is not easy to do but try to disengage from reassuring etc. It is counter intuitive but it is feeding the beast of anxiety, and it is very draining for you also. Do you know if he has been like this for some time or has something sparked it off? That might influence your decision on whether you have the energy for the relationship.

helpyourself Fri 16-Nov-12 20:36:50

The posters who have been 'stood by' can you honestly say that your partners could have written a post like the op?
It's completely one sided. He's giving redead nothing. Why should she stick around and fix someone who's wallowing in his problems and making no attempt to solve them himself.

lifeintheolddogyet Fri 16-Nov-12 20:29:13

He sounds depressed and anxious. Tiredness would be a feature in that. He needs to seek psychological help, though for many people (and I speak from experience) things have to reach crisis proportions before they can consider that their illness may be mental instead of physical.

His GP might refer him to CBT and prescribe a course of anti depressants.

I've suffered from GAD and Health Anxiety and DH stuck around. I'm glad he did, and so's he, because I was still there, underneath all the layers of illness. CBT helped scrape them away a bit and while it will never be gone, I know the beast now; I am aware of when I'm getting low again and have some stuff I do to make it doesn't take over again.

Good luck to you both.

Scheherezade Fri 16-Nov-12 20:28:09

"It's his personality. It can't be fixed"

Let's hope one (or more) of the MNetters on the health anxiety support thread don't see that.

Walkacrossthesand Fri 16-Nov-12 20:12:58

There is a whole group of symptoms called 'medically unexplained symptoms' - essentially, once a few tests have been done to rule out likely causes of symptoms,*and the person's condition isn't deteriorating in the way that serious illness tends to do*, then there's little point in carrying on doing tests - nothing will be found, but the symptoms are still there to be lived with. Ghostship, I suspect that's why your docs have stopped looking - not because they are not taking you seriously, but because it's very unlikely a cause will be found. So the approach then is to say 'given that I have these troublesome symptoms, what can I do to live around them' - and funnily enough, if we manage that, the symptoms often become less troublesome. CBT as mentioned above, or help from an experienced psychologist can help. But while you are on a 'quest' for a diagnosis, you will get nowhere.

gobbin Fri 16-Nov-12 20:01:16

You're on this planet once and once only. He is sapping your life away.
I'd rather be single than try to cope with that. He needs professional help and you will never fix him.

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