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Old 08-12-2003, 04:05 AM   #1
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Redhead23 HB User
Red face "Wanting" illness / Carving attention

Hi,
My friend is around 30 and has been in therapy for depression etc. since she was about 15. She's quite creative and reads/writes a lot and is a nice, intelligent lady really but she seems literally obsessed with *wanting* to be ill. I understand that depressive feelings can often remain hidden and I do believe that she is truely unhappy and has some issues (parents never really showed her love and are v. cold towards her, she has panic attacks and rarely leaves the house) but the way she is acting makes it look like she's hopping from one problem to the next and looking up stuff just so she can add new illnesses to he repertoire. I mean we've all got problems and I myself suffer from panic attacks, anxiety, insecurities and social phobias but that doesn't mean I have to give up working on myself, lie down and demand to be card for and expect people to feel sorry for me!

She sometimes "cuts" herself, now I know people who self-harm generally don't do it "for attention" but when someone just barely scratches their skin and then puts huge bandages on, then constantly slips back their sleeves to make sure everyone can see the bandages (hoping for them to go "Aaw have you cut yourself again?"), or proudly showing off some little pattern they scratched into their arm (and I do mean scratched and not cut, it rarely bleeds!), then is that really self-harm in the traditional sense?

She has suffered from eating disorders for a while but again yes she is a compulsive overeater (and a lot of compulsive other things, she buys lots of clothes, food etc. and then gives it all away), but she constantly keeps trying to act like she's bulimic or anorexic (she eats vegetables for one day and suddenyl she's "anorexic" again, or throws up once and then is "bulimic" again - this never lasts more than a day or two but she has to tell the world whenever it does happen).

She once told me that she wished she had leukemia, so she could just "grow weaker and thinner" and "everybody would love her and care for her in hospital".

She often looks up psychiatric and medical problems and starts acting like she has them, usually nothing serious though.

She used to have a great job with a good wage but she never liked working and constantly kept going on about how she wished she would get disability payments so she'd never have to work again in her life. well, a friend told her about 5 years ago how she filled in her questionnaire (at a therapist's) to get diagnosed as BPD, so my friend practiced and got the diagnosis.

As soon as she was diagnosed she committed herself to a mental asylum for 4 months and has not worked since (she pocketed sick pay for about half a year until she decided she would not return to her job) and is now on disability, living in a fancy flat that her mom bought as an "investment", rent-free. She spends all her money on clothes, food, going out and books.

Her main problems seem to be that she's very impulsive, has grand schemes and ideas (like writing a book, starting an education etc.) that she starts and never finishes, she's also compulsive and keeps doing too much of everything. She keeps going from therapist to therapist because once a therapist does not agree with her own analysis of herself (i.e. what she WANTS to be DX'd as) she starts complaining about him/her and then finds herself another terapist.

She demands cosntant attention from therapists and does not understand that they have their own lives and can NOT always be there to hold her hand whenever my friend feels a little down. She refuses to take ANY responsibility for her life and her actions and expects (demands?) everyone to care for her, always be there for her and continuously tell her what a poor soul she is. On the other hand she refuses to actually take any medication (even herbal/natural things like valerian, kava kava, St John's wort etc.) or do any exercises etc. that are recommended to her and that might help her, always coming up with yet another excuse why she can't do/use a particular treatment. Occasionally she will go to the Psychiatric ER and stay for a night and get valium but she does not take any medications on a rgular basis, even though it has been recommended to her repeatedly (by doctors/therapists etc.).

I know she has problems and she is not doing this just to get a free ride, but I also know that she is grossly exaggerating a lot of her problems to get attention.

The thing is - does this sound like BPD? I am asking because she told me that she FAKED the answers to the questionnaire that finally got her the diagnosis (she had never been diagnosed with anything before, in over 10 years of therapy) so I don't know if her therapist just DXd her to give her the label she'd been yearning for and get herself some peace.

Under all the lies and deceptions and excuses, my friend is a generous, witty, creative and intelligent woman. I only see her about once a year (I live in the UK, she lives in Switzerland) and for a week or two she is mostly bearable, but it still pains me to see her waste her life away like that.

Is there any literature you could recommend and has anyone else seen such behaviour before?

Thanks,

Red
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Old 08-13-2003, 01:00 PM   #2
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Kathrin74 HB User
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Yeah, it does sound like Borderline Personality Disorder to me... the craving for attention, the eating disorders, the impulsiveness... one symptom to look for would also be: Does she tend to either "totally love" or 'totally hate" somebody, and is she afraid of being abandoned?

I can relate to the 'wanting to be ill" to some degree... I have suffered from anorexia in the past (which really can be a "convenient" way to "make yourself ill"), and right after starting to recover from it I had a secret fantasy of having leukemia... to me it felt like I wanted my parents to feel proud of me because I would be such a "fighter"... while in the past I always had those little problems and fears that were just so exaggerated...

There is a disorder called "Munchhausen Syndrome" where people actually PRETEND they are ill and sometimes go as far as having an operation for a problem they are faking... it doesn't sound like your friend has that though.

By the way, I am from Switzerland too! Am in the US right now though.

Kathrin

 
Old 08-14-2003, 12:15 AM   #3
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Redhead23 HB User
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Hi & thanks for the reply, it's nice to see a fellow Swiss on these boards!

After reading up on BPD I did find htat some of her traits do kind of fit in with it, although it does seem that the bit about relationships with other people just doesn't fit her - she has a reasonable amount of friends (more than me anyway but that's not hard! ) but likes to spend a lot of time on her own / doesn't like having a lot of people around (or having even just one person around her for too long).

The thing is though that I can't really tell whether some of the more obvious signs of BPD have turned up only after she read up about it or not - I didn't really get to know her too closely until about half a year before she got her diagnosis.

Also what stumps me is that she had been in therapy for some 10 years before the diagnosis and only got DX'd once she demanded to be tested for it - if her signs were that obvious wouldn't her numerous therapists and psychologists have twigged on sooner?

Anyway thanks for your input, I'll just enjoy the time I can spend with her (going back in September for a week or two)
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Old 08-20-2003, 05:18 PM   #4
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TroubledYouth HB User
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wow that was weird to read that...most of what you said reminded me of either myself or a friend i had a while back...she was a compulsive liar...not saying thats what your friend is...but this friend sarah -name change- would always exaggerate certian things to get attention, she would cut her self just as you described then walk around town showing everyone to get attention, but the first sign of negative attention she would run home then call everyone up to get more attention for the negative attention..she would make up stories about illness that never really afflicted her. she would make sure that someone was around and then go into the bathroom and pretend to throw up. she would not eat around anybody and hint towards them all that she hasnt eaten in a long time.

i have the same social problems you talked about i do not like to spend much time with anybody i try as hard as i can never to leave my house. and i definatly crave so much attention. you said ''She once told me that she wished she had leukemia, so she could just "grow weaker and thinner" and "everybody would love her and care for her in hospital".''
ive said almost the exact same thing before i wish sometimes that i would get into horrible accidents just for the attention...i know this is not right but i cant help myself.

there is a personality disorder called Histrionic.

-People with histrionic personality disorder are constant attention seekers. They need to be the center of attention all the time, often interrupting others in order to dominate the conversation. They use grandiose language to discribe everyday events and seek constant praise. They may dress provacatively or exaggerate illnesses in order to gain attention. They also tend to exaggerate friendships and relationships, believing that everyone loves them. They are often manipulative.-

well hope this helps...good luck to you and your friend, hope things work out for the best




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-When life gives ya lemons, squeeze em in someones eye until you feel better-
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Old 08-21-2003, 12:19 AM   #5
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Redhead23 HB User
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Thanks for the input TroubledYouth, it's freaky how similar we sometimes are, even though we live far apart!

I'll see her again in September and will try to enjoy my time with her as much as possible - thankfully she knows that I don't fall for her attention-seeking (mainly because I usually fail to take up on any visual clues/body language so I don't really take much notice of the showing off of bandages) so she usually doesn't try it on with me
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Old 09-02-2003, 01:42 PM   #6
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TroubledYouth HB User
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i hope you guys have fun

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-When life gives ya lemons, squeeze em in someones eye until you feel better-
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Old 09-03-2003, 12:46 AM   #7
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Redhead23 HB User
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Thanks, I'll report back on how she is when I get back in 3 weeks time (we're going on 2 weeks)
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