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?

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Fri 16-Nov-12 11:47:35

No, it is his personality. It wont get better. He is possibly just unfit if he is so tired.

ClippedPhoenix Fri 16-Nov-12 11:48:37

Is he Woody Allen?

Seriously though OP, I'm going to be blunt here but he'd drive me bloody mad. How long have you been seeing him? I'd throw him back as I can't stand all that crap, it's pathetic.

nokidshere Fri 16-Nov-12 11:49:28

You aren't going to change him so make sure you can live with it if its a serious relationship!

MrsCantSayAnything Fri 16-Nov-12 11:49:29

I honestly think you'll get a better response in relationships rather than IABU....can you repost there? It sounds like your partner needs councelling pretty badly.

He seems to be suffering from anxiety which can be very debilitating.

MrsCantSayAnything Fri 16-Nov-12 11:50:46

And no...t's not the age gap. You're young still...he's had a large chunk of life to sort himself out. Are you willing to take the risk that he will be doing this when you're 40 and he's 50 and you find that he is still unable to commit?

PandaNot Fri 16-Nov-12 11:55:09

Get out now. My mother is like this, worries obsessively about everything, extreme anxiety about health. It is an absolute nightmare to live with and if I didn't have to I wouldn't. It is so stressful and causes huge problems. You have a choice to be with him or not.

HuggleBuggleBear Fri 16-Nov-12 11:55:58

It's typical health anxiety and possibly generalised anxiety disorder. Reassurance from the medical tests will only last a short time then he will persue further tests. This is unlikely to get better on its own without psychological input.

DozyDuck Fri 16-Nov-12 11:59:22

My best friend is like this smile he worries so much about health stuff and relationship stuff and over thinks everything. He knows it's crazy, but he can't help it. He gets to the point where he calls me and is having severe panic attacks over nothing but just needs me to calm him down and convince him that it is all ok.

He has been like that for the 6 years I've known him. He is the most amazing guy I know, absolutely wonderful, but he won't change.

You either have to learn to love it, or walk away.

I love him to bits and will take phone calls at 1am for the rest of my life for him but I could never be in a relationship like that.

It's up to you. But please don't slag him off for it sad I'm sure you wouldn't.

CagneyNLacey Fri 16-Nov-12 11:59:44

My dh is not anywhere near as bad as that but he is similar about health issues and is pretty negative in general, but not as extreme. I'll be honest, its an intrinsic part of his personality, wrapped up in how he was brought up probably, and at 43 he isnt going to change, although he's not as bad as he used to be. I ignore a lot of it, make a joke out of some of it and rant and rave about the more ridiculous stuff he occasionally comes out with.

I used to find it exhausting to try and reason with him. There is no response you can give that will 'settle' an issue or worry so I tend not to bother anymore. So really, you should probably give some thought as to if this is how you want to live your life?

DozyDuck Fri 16-Nov-12 12:01:34

Oh and like hugglebugglebear says, it won't get better without psychological help. But my friend has loads of psychological input and still hasn't got better so there's no guarantees either way.

It's anxiety disorder. I have it mildly, very very mild as I realised when I met my friend

CagneyNLacey Fri 16-Nov-12 12:05:39

God my post sounds grim. He's actually lovely and funny and we love each other very much, but there is this kernel of negativity in him that will always be there and if your dp is actually worse than my dh, as he sounds, you really need to have a think, because it must be exhausting and will probably not get much better without serious counselling that he is committed to.

PropertyNightmare Fri 16-Nov-12 12:16:46

I would move on tbh. Life is challenging enough without a drama queen for a DP.

cestlavielife Fri 16-Nov-12 12:22:06

has he asked for a course of CBT from the doctors ?
surprised they havent suggested it or does he go private ?

he will always be like this unless he seeks help.
live with it or choose to leave...

wineandroses Fri 16-Nov-12 12:22:10

I have a friend like this too. He is a lovely man, but he does drive everyone mad with his incessant worrying. And he has a stubborn streak that means he cannot be dissauded from his worrying. There are times when I just have to stop discussing things with him because it is so wearisome. I could not possibly live with/marry or even date someone like that because I find that he can suck the joy out of any occasion! I also think he has passed on to his kids the tendancy to worry about everything. Bit grim in their house!

Sorry, not sure that's really helpful, but if you are feeling down about it now, imagine how you'll feel years from now, living with such a man. I couldn't do it.

helpyourself Fri 16-Nov-12 12:26:20

It's not the age gap, and tbh it doesn't really matter why he's like this, it's not your job to fix him. I'd dump him and move on.

GoingBackToSchool Fri 16-Nov-12 18:20:22

I'm a bit like this, in the health department i mean, not worrying about kids/divorce etc as I don't have any/am not divorced.
YANBU for it to be getting you down, but I think that you should speak to him about your concerns. Not just in terms of 'you are fine' but that you think he worries too much/might want to speak to someone about it. From personal experience, someone saying 'you are fine' (even a doctor) doesn't make the feeling go away. he has to do that himself sad
I agree that it's not your job to fix him, but I also think that sometimes it can be worth fixing someone.
I don't really know what to say, but I don't think that you should give up on him smile

GhostShip Fri 16-Nov-12 18:25:55

I'm like this, but in the health thing. Not as far as cancer but I do have health worries that no-one takes seriously and they cant find reasons why I have them sad

ClippedPhoenix Fri 16-Nov-12 19:24:06

I'd also like to add though OP, if it's driving you mad then don't feel guility about not wanting to "help" him and wanting out, it's just not something you want to deal with which is fair enough.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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

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

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.

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

As has been said, CBT would probably help considerably.

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?

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?

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.

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

what, op, attracts you to a worrier?

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..

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

DE not re

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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'.

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!

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