Q: My best friend is driving me mad. She is a bit of a hypochondriac, not just about herself but also her three year old daughter – and she is getting worse. Even three years later every cough or cold warrants a call to me at all hours, including the middle of the night! I have tried explaining that the usual childhood illnesses are rarely serious and have explained the things she should worry about, like meningitis. How do I get through to her? Although my patience is wearing thin I still feel guilty for feeling so annoyed.
A: You shouldn't feel guilty for being annoyed about this. It is a very challenging situation and to have coped with this for three years proves you are a good friend to her. While you should offer your support, knowledge and experience, your friend also has to respect your time and learn to have faith in her own abilities and instincts.
Have you established what her underlying fear is? Did something happen to her baby that frightened her and has stuck with her? Or has something happened to someone close to her? It could be that she is harbouring a phobia based on a previous experience. If you can draw this out of her, it might enable her to acknowledge her irrational response to illness and allow her to begin to address the problem head-on.
Additonally, have explained to her that, while you understand how frightening it can be to see your child sick, phoning you up at all hours is not really an acceptable situation? It may be that she simply doesn't realise that you have this issue.
If she is as good a friend to you as you are to her, she will accept how you feel and begin to think twice before picking up the phone. But you do need to make her aware of how you feel.
It sounds as though you have become a security blanket for your friend and obviously that cannot continue. Perhaps you could suggest to her that a taking in course in First Aid might make her feel more able to cope when her daughter is ill. You could attend this course with her for a bit of moral support. There are plenty available and The British Red Cross or St John's Ambulance both run courses across the country.
This is a tricky siutation to deal with, but for both your sakes it is time to address situation one way or another. By doing this, you will ultimately help your friend to have a little more faith in herself, as well as relieve your frustration with her.
Have you been in this situaiton? How did you address it? Please leave a comment below...