Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — How do I deal with a hypochondriac roommate? — Sick & Tired
Dear Sick & Tired,
Diagnosis: oh oh-itis. Talk about a possible head case and a head cold case, living with a hypochondriac. I feel for you, S&T, yet, your simple question poses a lot of variables to respond to here. 1) I’m going to assume you’re starting with a relatively new roommate, or his perceived illness is a new phenom you’re dealing with; 2) Understand that I personally believe in “appropriate involvement” only, your own tolerance may differ; and 3) Consider how long you intend to live with this person (weigh pros-cons of his roomie viability/personality against mutual balance sheet concerns), and how appropriately close or willing you are to get involved personally.
Hypochondria may be attributed to many things, and can affect relationships. Some people are legitimately stressed due to work or school, or family issues, or previous health problems. Ask what recent (or reintroduced) events may be contributing to his base stress level. Or, perhaps he is bored with too much time on his hands and nothing more productive to focus on. Maybe he’s grieving a loss that can be in- or directly attributed to illness in general. He could have a family member (or himself previously) who is experiencing a health problem that might legitimately concern him now or in the future. Ideally through talk and possible medication for depression or anxiety (see a doctor), he can begin to see his behaviors with more objectivity toward addressing and changing those behaviors for his own (not mention yours!) wellbeing.
Show concern, tread lightly, mind your boundaries, and guard your own (mental and physical) health.
Dear Sick & Tired,
Well, I can see how that could be a completely draining scenario. For your sake, set up some boundaries. Your roommates aches and pains should not be the center of your world, nor should her illnesses dictate (beyond reasonable respectful consideration) your actions.
I once had a roommate who would announce her state of mind or physical issues so I would know how to act around her. WTF?! Now I’m suppose to do some co-dependant, victim-focused soft shoe to keep peace in the house? Yeah, that didn’t work out so well, because as sweet and nurturing as I am, I have no tolerance for victim waving flag holders who expect the rest of to take care and coddle them out of pity.
If your roommate is truly sick with some wasting disease that is perhaps yet not fully understood—like fibromyalgia — then the aches and pains may not be “all in the head.” But just be sure the amount of compassion, hand holding and coddling is in balance. Take time for you. Sage your bedroom and personal living space daily. Do the rest of the house at least once a week. If your hypochondriac is irritated by sage smoke, make a mister with water and add lavender and lemon verbena essential oils. Spray that around the rooms of community space to clear old, heavy energy.
Personally, it sounds like too much drama in your living space, so you may want to start the hunt for a more calm and neutral living situation. Home is the place for refreshing, rejuvenating and reenergizing. If your time is busy spent avoiding, ignoring or nurse-maiding your roommate, when does the rejuvenation happen? Beware of situations that sap your energy — especially if you notice a sharp energy decrease just by thinking of yourself in that environment or among certain people.
Keep to your space and choose to help if you want to. If you really don’t want to play nursemaid, don’t. It will only sap your energy and leave you open to a host of opportunistic illnesses.
Be good to you. Find your sanctuary living situation. This one does not sound like it is it.
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