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Author Topic: BPD and Hypochondria  (Read 3163 times)
FreedomReigns
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« on: January 04, 2011, 07:36:47 PM »

I was wondering if anyone had any experience linking BPD and hypochondria?  I am more curious than anything.  I know of some situations where this seems to be the case. The person seems to think that any small ailment is a life-threatening illness and goes to the extreme to prove that it is life-threatening, often changing doctors when he/she doesn't like the "real" diagnosis, i.e., hypochondria.  This person also thrives on all the attention he/she gets with this so-called "illness."
So I was curious if this is considered a trait of BPD? 
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chally
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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2011, 08:06:26 PM »

I'm not sure if this exactly qualifies, but here goes:  My BPD mom allegedly had rheumatic fever when she was a child. She claims that she was bedridden for an entire year and that her mom had to teach her how to walk again. This has never been verified or denied by any other family member, although I would have thought someone would have brought it up in the past 50 years, but let's say it's true to whatever extent. Anyway, she has used her illness as an excuse for many things over the years, such as why she couldn't learn to drive until she was 40+ because, to paraphrase, she never learned to ride a bike because she was too sick and therefore she could not possible understand the concept of steering. Also, her left hand didn't work as well as her right hand (otherwise known as being right-handed to the rest of us) so she was bad at sports or couldn't knit or stuff like that.

When I was a child, I constantly heard about the "hole in the valve of my heart" and how her mother never told her she was too weak to have any children so she risked her life having me and I should be very grateful. Also, whenever I did anything to displease her, she would claim that since I knew what an unwell woman she was and how she had that damn hole in her heart, I was trying to kill her with my insubordination. (Nothing like making your 5 year old responsible for whether you live or die.) Keep in mind that she was in her 20s and perfectly healthy at this time. She constantly made these totally gross, very forced hocking-up-phlegm noises and always held a handkerchief that she would dramatically flourish and fake cough into. Then she would take to her bed and make more of the fake cough noises in order to make me feel bad. She'd do this to my dad also.  Please note that she was never ill enough to warrant any medical care nor ever went to a doctor about these terrible, debilitating and life threatening symptoms.  grin

She would also threatened that her life would be considerably shortened because of her tragic illness, but she's over 70 and still alive and kicking, having never been to the hospital or had any prolonged illness in the past half century.
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wideap27
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2011, 09:30:31 PM »

My mother is a die-hard hypochondriac. Everything is catastrophic and she goes to the doctor more than anyone I know. They never find anything. They just continue to give her pills.

I think she believes the only positive attention she will get is if she's sick. She's always been like this.
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P.F.Change
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2011, 06:10:45 AM »

For my mother, it's part of being a hermit, I think: they are always looking for something to do with all that fear.

We were constantly at the doctor's office for some reason or another.  (And once I figured out that maligning would result in a trip to the pediatrician and would get me out of school, I really took advantage of it!  )

My mother has a minor heart defect that basically a lot of people have and doesn't really cause problems.  I remember one time she pulled me out of school to have an ultrasound just to make sure there was nothing wrong with my heart.  A perfectly healthy 10-ish year old will most certainly die tomorrow if we don't just make sure!  ?  Oh, and there's a piece missing from her spine, or something.  So I had to go to the doctor for that one, too.  Every little thing that "might" have been wrong with me--like a spot of extra calcium on an x-ray of my leg--and she was ready to start planning my funeral.

My husband is a doctor.  We are acquainted with a family who started seeing him, and I'm reasonably certain the mom has BPD.  He says she is constantly bringing her children into the clinic when there's nothing wrong with them.   

Illness gets people a lot of sympathy and attention.  Besides the fear factor, I think this is a major part of why people like my mother spend their lives at the doctor's office. 

PF
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MyAimIsTrue
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2011, 06:34:14 AM »

I think she believes the only positive attention she will get is if she's sick. She's always been like this.

My BPDm is also this way.  I also believe that it's attention-seeking behavior that is typical of BPD.  It reminded me of that weather lady who recently claimed that she was attacked and raped while jogging in a park, later confessing that she made it all up because she wanted attention from someone.  I gasped when I saw it thinking that either she is BPD or her mother is http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/cold_front_at_channel_SMMCMc3cRRH9FclY0wfWBP

I do not believe that BPDm actually believes that she is sick.  She uses it to manipulate people.  When she is not getting her way or when something important is happening for someone else (i.e. weddings, baby showers, etc.) she will suddenly "fall ill" and it will be yet another medical mystery.  And it always, always could be cancer.  My BPDm has never had cancer, but she will still, to this day have the cojones to "hint" that she did to people around her so they are left with the feeling of being unable to confirm or deny her half-claim.  It's crazy.

When I was a child, she was accused by my pediatrician of having munchausen by proxy.  I went through a phase of not eating and I can admit today that it was because I "felt bad."  I was only 10-11 years old, I was the scapegoat child and one day, I stopped feeling like eating.  In fact, when food was put in front of me, I'd immediately feel a lump form in my throat and I wanted to cry.  BPDm refused to believe that what I needed was a child psychologist, so she kept bringing me to the pediatrician, having my blood drawn, screaming at me daily about how hard it was for her that I was this way and talking on the phone all day long with her histrionic family members to get sympathy for her troubles.  When the pedi thought she was making me sick and thought I was suffering from "failure to thrive," my BPDm immediately changed doctors.  You don't have to use actual poison to make your kid sick.

But yes, among the usual illness claims (of which her close family members have begun to ignore now), she also claims a lot of "oddities" about her body in general. 

"My hearing isn't good in one ear because I always had ear infections as a child and that's why I also mess up words sometimes." <--after someone asked, "did you really mean____" when she messed up a word.

"I have a gluten allergy and that's why the skin around my nose is always red." <--she's bulemic, oh, and she goes "on" and "off" of her gluten-free diet frequently.  rolleyes

And of course, there is always a medical reason why she gained weight (and it's not because she has a binging disorder!).  So, I can usually see right through her claims because they are either defensive against being seen as anything less than perfect, they are meant to draw others into her denial of a life-long eating disorder, or they are manipulative so people feel guilty and give her the attention and/or control that she wants.
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wideap27
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2011, 07:08:47 AM »

The excuses kind of make me snicker...but they're sad.

My mom once told me she couldn't quit smoking because her body had a nicotine dependency that her doctor told her she shouldn't deprive her body of.

What?
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looking4thelight
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2011, 07:36:54 AM »

Quote
Also, her left hand didn't work as well as her right hand (otherwise known as being right-handed to the rest of us) so she was bad at sports or couldn't knit or stuff like that.
lol  Thanks, Chally-- I needed a laugh this morning.
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bentnotbroke
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2011, 07:47:06 AM »

My mom, like a lot of yours, varied between extremes, especially with us kids. She would go on and on, sick, and finally get to the doctor to find out that bronchitis had turned to pneumonia. Other times, and it's always completely obvious, if she feels like people aren't paying her enough attention, she'll do these fake, deep coughs and pretend she's lost her voice. With me (it was never as bad with my brother), she'd send me to school throwing up and then act like she knew nothing when she was called to pick me up. Once she figured out they were going to call, she took the phone off the hook and I'd sit at school for hours. She used to babysit, and she'd send us outside for hours in the 90+ degree heat with nothing to drink and wouldn't allow us back inside...once I fell asleep on the back porch and she came out raging at me for not playing with my brother (the bigger kids used to pick on him) and, come to find out, I had a fever of 104...I had the flu. I also had a few surgeries (appendectomy and a couple due to reproductive issues) and after my appendix was out, she wanted to know how soon I could roller skate (the guy she liked at the time took his kids there all the time) and after the others, because I was older, she'd go out of town and leave me home with a list of chores to be done even though I wasn't supposed to lift anything.

She now has an autoimmune disease. Instead of treating it properly and adjusting her lifestyle accordingly, she continues to drink, smoke, and go to the tanning bed (her disease affects the skin, liver, and lungs) and then complains that it won't go into remission. She likes being able to say that her disease is "killing her". Ugh.
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Cordelia
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2011, 08:40:42 AM »

Oh man, this thread brings back memories!

Other times, and it's always completely obvious, if she feels like people aren't paying her enough attention, she'll do these fake, deep coughs and pretend she's lost her voice.

I remember the fake "I've lost my voice"!  My mom did that too.  Wow. 

She likes being able to say that her disease is "killing her". Ugh.

YES, I have heard these exact words before.  My mom has a minor heart condition brought on by overeating, a terrible diet, and sedentary lifestyle, and when she had a heart attack she took it as the confirmation that our family was killing her, and she left in the middle of the night not long after. 

16 years later, she's still not dead.  I guess that's because she took the initiative and ditched us.   rolleyes 
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BMama
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2011, 08:46:03 AM »

Most recently my mother had an unexplained cough for a few months.
She had tons of tests that found nothing, meanwhile she'd either get into coughing fits everywhere we went, or whine about not being able to go anywhere because she'd just cough and bother people. 
She finally found out it was acid reflux...I think.   lol

Said it was from stress from the fall out of my father cheating on her.  Okay, so that is probably true, but, what I found annoying is how she always used it to remind him of what he did to her, even after she had supposedly forgiven him.  And she would say also that it started after she visited my enSis, who smokes, and this is why she should quit because mother can never enjoy visiting with her, even if she smokes outside b/c it makes her cough anyway. 

Oh, I forgot out the case of shingles from stress, that she emailed me about some time over this last year of vLC.

I realize these are all true things, probably, but it's HOW she handles them, and the way she speaks about them (read: blames others) that is bothersome.  I'm sure she blamed me for the shingles.

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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2011, 08:51:21 AM »

Mine is my SO and his manifest more in getting "sick to my stomach" over anytime we have a disagreement or he feels that I'm being "nasty" to him (in reality I'm just point out how he is wrong or saying something he doesn't want to hear).  He will quite literally grab his chest in the middle of a fight and then talk about how all the stress is getting to him and he is just having a bad day with his angina.  I hate to sound like a callous jerk but come on!  How UNFAIR is that? Grabbing your chest in the middle of a fight, it's just ridiculous but if I don't say something about it he responds with "see? you don't even care!"
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Ankakusu
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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2011, 09:47:45 AM »

OH yes...mine would claim she was sick whenever I was sick, so I was supposed to take care of her (while actually sick). She was sedentary and non-exercising, but still healthy. When she got cancer, she was triumphant, in a "now you MUST take care of me! HaHAA!" kind of way. (I didn't--I just invited her and uNPD/ASPD endad over every couple of months to my place, which was four hours away by car.)

She also had munchausen-by-proxy, making my illnesses all about her when she could gain attention and martyrdom points after doing things to make me feel worse.  Or, she wouldn't take me to the doctor until uNPD/BPD ensis was also sick (and then she'd take both of us), or until it got serious enough that someone might notice.

But I've never understood how, after refusing to take care of me when I was little and dependent on her (and she would often deliberately exascerbate whatever illness or condition I had), she expected me to have an endless supply of empathy for her for her mostly fake illnesses.

Another weird and disgusting thing, which may not be related but is connected with her hypochondria in my mind (sorry if this is off-topic!), is that she was strangely jealous of Holocaust survivors and the attention they got. Many of our relatives died in the Holocaust, but no one in our direct family line had any direct experience with it, and she herself was born after WWII and in a different country. I mean, I can understand as a Non feeling an affinity for survivors as a survivor of a different kind, or even wishing that what you survived were something that could be publicly acknowledged too, and there's no doubt that grandmother is a pure Queen BPD. But she would often bring it up when I needed care from her, I guess as a fantasy that was part of the "No, *I'M* sick! Take care of ME!" syndrome. She wanted me to be all, "ooh, you poor fragile [actual] Holocaust survivor mother! Let me stroke your head and take your temperature right after I go finish throwing up from this illness that you won't acknowledge!" It makes me sick (figuratively!) just thinking about it.
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chally
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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2011, 10:34:34 AM »

This is all just amazing to me to read--so many similar stories. My heart goes out to all of you, as these behaviors are unbelievably irritating and embarrassing at best and tragic at worst (, your sister's death due to this is just horrible and beyond imagining).  I never knew any other mothers who acted like mine growing up. The only thing I saw that was similar was when reading novels written in the 1800s where ladies suffered from the "vapors" and whatnot.

Wideap27, your mom's excuse to not quit smoking is quite creative, you've got to admit. We just can't make this stuff up, can we?

It took my therapist to point out the obvious to me, in that it is possible that my when my mom got ill as a child, her mother's caregiving gave her the attention she may have not had previously (Grandma was quite the cold fish from what I can remember and my mom had four other siblings) and so she tried to use it to her advantage later in life. How unfortunate for her that her husband and daughter did not suffer shows of weakness gladly. I remember just finding her annoying and pathetic even as a small child. This may also explain the martyred caregiver she became many years later after it was clear she had not yet died of her "illness", when my father became ill with PD. That is another story for another day, but suffice to say that she milked that as much as humanly possible to get attention and validation as well as to guilt trip me to do her bidding.
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HeatherS


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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2011, 11:39:17 AM »

Yep, mom's a hypocondriac.  She has a lot of real health problems, and I'm glad she's gotten them taken care of, but she is constantly at her doctor complaining of something.  This has her taking no less than 25 different medications and a handful of additional suplements.  She is overweight and doesn't do much physical activity.  When she does anything active, she is practically laid up the next day with her fibromyalsia and arthritis and achilles tendon problem and her sore toes from her diabetes and...!  She won't listen to us or her doctor that if she were to go out walking everyday or find another way to be a little active that these things would dissappear.  The sad thing is that she doesn't have the money to go to all these different doctors (especially when you add in the cost of psych hospital stays that she's had over the last two yrs), and I'm afraid of what's going to happen when she runs out.
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thenormalone

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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2011, 09:33:16 AM »

BPD sis has stress diarrhea (sp) supposedly.  I think it's probably more like a gluten intolerance (gramma had celiac disease), but she refuses to see a doctor because it costs too much money. 

She will also go through periods of weight loss that she says are unexplainable and that she must be dying boohoo what is wrong with me...  when in fact she goes through periods of anorexia and bulmia and hides it poorly.
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GravitysRainbow

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« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2011, 08:24:49 PM »

Quote
My BPDm is also this way.  I also believe that it's attention-seeking behavior that is typical of BPD.  ...  She uses it to manipulate people.  When she is not getting her way or when something important is happening for someone else (i.e. weddings, baby showers, etc.) she will suddenly "fall ill" and it will be yet another medical mystery.  And it always, always could be cancer.  My BPDm has never had cancer, but she will still, to this day have the cojones to "hint" that she did to people around her so they are left with the feeling of being unable to confirm or deny her half-claim.  It's crazy.

As is so often case, here's a moment one of us nons says "Wow, that's _exactly_ my pwBPD to a t." My ex took the classic BPD-inflected hypochondria to epic new heights of performance. Never more than a few days went by without some oration on how she 'didn't feel right' how she was sure she was 'anemic' or had lupus or chronic fatigue. *Weekly* calls from the ER where she had run to convinced that she was 'having a heart attack' (a perfectly physcially healthy 27 year old). But, as with other posters, the most telling sign was how often the 'illness' appearance directly correlated to her not getting her way - large or small, or when attention was turned away from her to someone else. Then suddenly she's swooning onto the nearest chair claiming to be sick (never with anything provable, of course.)  Like most other tools in the BPD retinue, the hypochondria seems to be chiefly yet another variant of the drive for manipulation and attention/validation/re-parenting that characterizes the fundamental nature of their disorder.  Also like others here, my expwBPD was a master at 'hinting' about completely non-existent illnesses she was suffering - just enough to solicit sympathy, but not with enough detail that she could pinned down in (yet another) lie/confabulation.
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Loveisfree
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« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2011, 09:25:21 PM »

Wow, just one example.

I work a very stressful job and a few years ago had a terrible pain in my side and had to go straight to the ER as I had been trying to hold out thinking it would eventually go away as I always do.

Well, I learned that I have diverticulitis and the dr's were ready to remove part of my colon that next day but I said no and hightailed it out of there  shocked  During this time my family called me a great deal and were very worried as I am typically very healthy. 

So, maybe a few weeks later, my mom tells me she has diverticulitis and found some old papers from the hospital when she gave birth to me stating so  rolleyes    So now she is often in pain from this "new" illness and even used it to try to manipulate the family one Christmas when she was upset with everyone and told them she had to stay at home because of the diverticulitis.  Well, my family waited until after dinner to take some food to my mom and all we heard after that was that no one cared about her and how terrible everyone is, etc, etc  rolleyes

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windblown
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« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2011, 09:30:14 PM »

It's funny the things that you just don't think about until you start reading these threads!  

I should probably start by saying: please forgive me in advance for sounding unsympathetic in this bit- that is not my typical MO to people in pain...

That having been said, in times of stress (i.e. sibling arguments) my BPDmama would grab her gut or ribs or something and say, "Oh the stress!"  Mind you, she would never actually go to a doctor- nor has she ever in the last 30 years...due to the fact that she

"Does not trust them...they are egomaniacs!".  Of course... ?
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gaveuponit
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« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2011, 01:22:03 PM »

My likely NPD/possibly BPD mother would often get sick during arguments with people and/or exaggerate existing conditions/blame others for them.  She was convinced she had appendicitis after one argument with her boyfriend, yet wouldn't go to the hospital or call 911.  She  had me fetch medicine & soup for her.  

One Christmas she & her boyfriend were having a fight and she got bad gas pains.  She was on the couch, crying and yelling "go away" to the pains.  I ended up wrapping the presents because she was too ill to do so. She had a miracle recovery when her boyfriend stopped by.  During another breakup, she told me to call him and tell him I was worried that she might try to hurt herself, while reassuring me she wasn't going to hurt herself.  I felt bad making the call, but I was worried on some level she might try to hurt herself.  During arguments, she would blame the person she was arguing with for her blood pressure being high.  As if BP doesn't have anything to do with weight, eating habits, lack of exercise or excessive drinking (she was an active alcoholic most of my childhood) rolleyes

But when other people were sick, she often blamed them and/or was unsympathetic.  I had bad menstrual cramps as a teen.  Sometimes, to the point where I'd throw up.  I woke up with bad ones one morning and asked to stay home from school, something I rarely asked to do.  She mocked me, saying was I going to stay home every month?  I went to school, and you guessed it, threw up.  So the school called to have me come home.  Her boyfriend, a nice guy who always treated us well, picked me up from school and dropped me off at home before going to his home to sleep (he often worked the night shift).  She called me up to scream at me for inconveniencing everyone and I should have stayed home if I was that sick.  Umm, what part of me asking to stay home from school did she not understand?   rolleyes  Never took me to a doctor to see if the cramps could be treated.  It wasn't until I was in college when my friends saw me in pain and pointed that out that I realized it.  But around that time, Motrin became OTC, and that worked well enough.

Weird part was I found out she had bad cramps too.  My grandmother used to let her stay home from school and would make her tea, get her a hot water bottle.  My grandmother on that side was disturbed in many ways, but she did at least acknowledge when she was feeling badly and took care of her instead of yelling at her/mocking her.
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quartz
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« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2011, 02:10:12 PM »

When the people at my uBPDm's work were having a meeting to determine if she would be fired, she decided that her retina had detached (!), and that someone needed to drive her to the emergency room instead.

They still fired her.
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