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Teen dramatic/morbid whenever ill(9 Posts)
My ds is just recovering from some horrible "walking" flu type virus that has hit him 3 weeks into 6th form. (His dear father had also taken him to a huge football match 3 days earlier) He is mildly asthmatic when has a cold, had pneumonia New Year 2012 and so does get stuff. However, he is convinced when he is ill, that he is "always ill" and starts talking about how he is going to die soon, or that his death would be a release.
I am a part-time teacher, but am very much around at home, supported him through GCSE anxiety attacks and whenever he wants a study buddy. He has plenty of friends, will go to play sport/the gym/local and London concerts. All his buddies and him went to Spain after GCSEs. Obviously any illness could be serious, but everytime he has a cough he is on about cancer and AIDS. I try to be upbeat, point out how many viruses he probably fights off, but these days of depression ("I'm ill, I'm ill") grind me down, especially as my own father died not that long ago (he had zilch relationship with my children as my stepmother hated children). I need to get out of this wolf wolf pattern!
Wow, this is taking man flu to the next level, is it not?
How do you react when he says things like "death would be a relief" when he has a cold? Do you laugh and tell him not to be so daft? Forgive me for stating the obvious, but he's being more than a bit silly and would surely tone it down if his dramatics didn't get a reaction from you?
I do try to dismiss it and point out it's all a bit crazy. The problem is he just goes on and on. I think I'm more aware of it at the moment as I have been poorly with similar so have little resilience. Pointing this (same bug) out has had little effect. I must work on this, and try to be more jolly, no nonsense.
Is he generally anxious? If so get him to go to doctor.
If he's just being melodramatic ignore him but point out there are people, even very young children, who are much much worse off and you think he's being ridiculous.
Can I ask whats the relevance of the football match?
Football match-just another crowd where he might have caught the cold. I think there is an anxiety problem-it isn't so much the individual colds etc as he says he is worried why he seems to get so many, and there may be some underlying condition. Having written this down has helped me realise this may have been exacerbated after he had his post- pneumonia checks. He had had a huge cocktail of drugs, and was coming out in various rashes. Instead of saying this was probably down to these, but he's check out with some tests, the (different) GP said it might be due to some type of anaemia or similar deeper problem. We had, for some reason, 3 weeks to wait for these results (making me feel it might be something serious) and although we had been told to ring after 2 days, we were having to ring the GPs every day for 3 weeks.
He certainly got panic attacks for GCSE's-sleepless nights, heart racing, and was pulled out of an exam whilst I came in to calm him (they stopped the clock and he managed a good grade, with a medical letter). I booked him a Cognitive hypnotherapy session, which helped for a few sessions, but he got through them on diazepam and sleeping tablets.
Problem can be getting them to go to a GP when they don't see an immediate problem, but will try-AS exams will come round soon, plus more winter colds in the meantime.
I had a lot of health anxiety as a teen - I think it just happened to be the focus for a million other unprocessed emotions I had going on at the time. I was an emotional 'sponge', and was probably overwhelmed with family angst without even knowing it.
Not at all suggesting the same for your ds, but I would seriously guess at underlying anxieties or confidence issues, given the GCSE stress levels (diazepam means it must have been fairly bad?). The pneumonia stress probably gave any free floating anxiety a clear focus, too.
I would probably do a bit more research on health anxiety and talk about it, in a low key way, as something that can happen and is quite common. And has coping strategies/solutions to it. eg when he next has a cold and is angsting about it, I might say 'ah, sounds like you have a touch of that health anxiety stuff'.
How does his dad cope with illness, btw?
Thanks Elibean; I think we do need to talk about his anxiety thing; .Good point re father-he's a bit of an outdoors (walking/swimming in rivers/cycling) type and is a bit dismissive of illness unless it seems like a heart attack (he took himself to a and e with indigestion, probably wisely). When he has anything like 'flu, he just sleeps for days and then gets up and carries on. He is someone who tends to talk in platitudes-I used to get "S/he'll be alright" with the children, when they were really unwell and needed medical treatment to be alright again.
One minor thing. When my kids used to say "this always happen" or I am always this that or the other, I decided to write down with them, each day they were so and so. We then had a detailed record of exactly what was happening. Most times, they realised things were happening far fewer times than they thought.
Excellent point FavoriteThings-whilst I try to recall these episodes, you will know that slips. When he was younger, he used to get what seemed to me like a lot of nosebleeds, but over the year I made a note and it wasn't, according to the school nurse (and you can get a same day re-bleed). I should make a note.
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