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Author Topic: How do I help someone?  (Read 198 times)

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Offline wanttohelp

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How do I help someone?
« on: May 12, 2014, 04:17:41 PM »
I have a friend who is suffering from hypochondria.  She has been to more doctors than I can count -- for more illnesses than I can count.  She is seeing a psychiatrist (who gives her medication) and a psychologist who practices cognitive behaviour therapy.  I have tried to be supportive by taking her to doctor's appointments, sitting in emergency rooms for hours, etc.  However, I now feel that this is not helping her -- and perhaps even hurting her.  When she calls to tell me about her latest concerns, I find myself trying to console her by saying "Oh, I've had that, don't worry."  Then it upsets me because I don't want to talk about health issues all the time.  I'm trying to be supportive, but I'm getting weary.  Any advice?
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Offline crazymommy

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Re: How do I help someone?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2014, 04:39:45 PM »
Well this is a tough one.  I am fairly private about my own hypochondria, so friends don't tend to know about it.  But my husband does.  Unfortunately, when it's at it's worst, there's not a lot that he can say that is helpful.  The best thing for me is keeping busy... so distraction might be good for your friend.  If you find some activity to do with her that requires her to focus a bit... a movie, a book club, I don't know what else, but you get the idea. Listen to her concerns, be kind, but firmly say you don't think that anything is wrong.  That everyone feels little aches and pains.  I find it sometimes helps when my husband reminds me of all the times I thought something was wrong but I turned out to be way off base.  But if he keeps going with trying to convince me that I'm OK, it's a no-win for him. He gets frustrated and I just find reasons to prove him wrong. 
I hope that helps.  You're a good friend for trying to find a way to help.  But it really is a persistent thought pattern and very hard to break.  Your friend needs to find her way out herself.   Sounds like she is trying to do some of the right things, so that's a step in the right direction...
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Offline patmob

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Re: How do I help someone?
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2014, 06:58:00 AM »
First I think its great you want to help - you're a good friend!

Here is what I would suggest (1) I completely understand the logic of why you do it but hypochondria by its very nature doesn't respond to logic so as best you can try and refrain from saying things like "I've had that don't worry" - it really doesn't make someone with hypochondria feel any better.  Besides, we know WAAAYYYY more people who have experienced the same thing and died so you will never win on that on - lol  :laugh3:

(2) tell her you are going to set time aside - 5 minutes - and tell her "OK for the next 5 min I will listen (without interruption) to all your symptoms and health fears then after that lets go to the movies."  The deal is she gets to get it all off her chest without being told she is wrong about her feelings and you limit the time she gets to complain.  Your job isn't to try and reassure her so don't even try - your job is to listen - her job it to limit her complaints to 5 min.

After the 5 min just smile and say "You have a lot on your plate.  Let go do something to take your mind off of it."  If she continues to complain after that simply tell her "We had a deal, you've said all you needed to for today so lets move on."

Anyway, thats what I would suggest.  Mostly people just want to get if off their chest and have someone listen.
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Offline anxiouskathie

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Re: How do I help someone?
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2014, 07:07:55 AM »
Awesome advice patmob!!!   :yes:
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Offline marc

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Re: How do I help someone?
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2014, 09:44:58 AM »
Welcome to anxietyzone. I was told by a psychologist client of mine that hypochondria is based
on the inability to accept uncertainty. I would suggest some books relating to this. Listening is also
very important, as long as you realize the complaints can seem excessive and unreasonable.
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If you're going through hell, keep going.
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Offline wanttohelp

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Re: How do I help someone?
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2014, 12:36:30 PM »
Thanks everyone who responded.  Some really helpful advice and especially considering it comes from people who know of what they speak. 
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Offline mollyfin

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Re: How do I help someone?
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2014, 02:32:05 PM »
You're an awesome friend to want to help :)  All of the advice you've been given is good and I don't have anything to add, but I just wanted to say that.
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