Dear Annie: The wife ends up with a hypochondriac husband who thinks he has every disease, disease

Dear Annie: My husband is a hypochondriac. It is very hard to live with him. Whenever he hears that someone in our family is suffering from a disease, he claims that he has it. He is a healthy man with a perfect body. It disgusts me when he takes up a handicap spot next to a store when I know he doesn’t need it.

During the height of the pandemic, I was hysterical all the time. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent trying to pacify him, looking for things that were no longer available, like a thermometer. Because he swore the many thermometers we had in the house didn’t work. I would go to five or six stores. During a pandemic.

He hears about a disease, looks up the symptoms and swears he has it. He goes to his doctors (he has nine at this point) and relays his symptoms to them. He’s getting expensive tests, and he’s taking a lot of medication for it.

I tried to talk to his primary doctor and the doctor flatly told me that if my husband comes to him with problems, it is his responsibility to try to help him.

Several years ago I tried to get my husband into therapy, but he refused.

I recently got very sick, and while I was sick, he was angry and unsympathetic. He wants to hear everything I feel, not because he wants to help me, but because he is taking mental notes. He doesn’t even bring me water or hot tea.

Years ago, I had a serious injury and had to have surgery. The doctor prescribed some painkillers for me to take because I would be in pain after the anesthesia. At home, I slept. I woke up in horrible pain, and a few hours later I told my husband I was going to take my medication. To which he said: You never take medicine anyway and my hip hurt so I took them and they don’t do anything for you. My husband had taken three days of my pain medication while sleeping. I can’t describe how upset I was.

It’s exhausting.

He has not worked for 30 years. He claimed and was granted disability.

I just can’t go on anymore. I am retired and we have been married for 15 years. He says he’s been like this all his life.

I try to keep my own hobbies and friendships. I try really hard to have some kind of peace. I wait for him, even cutting his nails. He will sit there and complain if I go anywhere.

He has no hobbies, no friends, he spends all day on his laptop. He doesn’t eat fruit or vegetables.

I try to get him to go for a walk, they end up pretending to fall and we have to go home. Whenever we go anywhere he will pretend to throw his hip or hurt himself.

I actually witnessed him pretending to fall down a short flight of stairs. I wish I had videotaped it because I’ll tell you, I wasn’t even surprised, just disgusted.

When we met and went out, we went on hikes, long drives, dance lessons, all kinds of things. Then we got married and a few months later he started saying he didn’t feel well every time he wanted to go somewhere. The man I dated is not the man I married. He’s kind of a weird actor.

I am disgusted and resentful. Thanks for any advice you can give me. I just feel broken. — Living with a hypochondriac

Dear Living with a Hypochondriac: It sounds like your husband has a severe anxiety disorder. It is important for him to get professional help to deal with his condition or it will spiral further out of control. If he refuses to seek treatment, it may be time to reevaluate whether he’s a good life partner.

In the meantime, set boundaries with him, continue to cultivate your hobbies and friendships, and focus on your own care. A good therapist can help you process these difficult emotions and assess possible next steps.

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