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My Dad always claims to be sick or that he suffers from an illness that’s life threatening. It’s been like this since I was a teenager and now I’m in my mid 30’s - to be fair he does or did have his share of diseases (heart issues, epilepsy, blood pressure, recently lymphoma in the stomach. It is traumatic and enduring for me to always emphasize by him triggering sympathy to feed off of it, but it’s like the kid that cried wolf. As of late I felt no remorse, but that guilt was there. I kept hearing terms like “it’s all in God’s hand , there’s no hope , change the subject son" coincides with the exact same response I get 10-15 years back. Reason I’m reaching out to this community is to know how should I react. I’m at a cross roads, 1 I can’t help but to sympathize, and worry, while 2, I can’t help but to grudge and feel anger for this method which mounts concern and worrying towards him ( should it be true ). But one thing is for certain is that I’d never do this to my kids, knowing all of the above from this brief intro, is it an exasperation from his part? Is it real? Or is it some psychological tool that he uses at his arsenal .. keeping in mind we are close as a family?

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They do this for attention. They want you to feel bad for them. They think you will visit more often if you think the end is near. My grandmother used the line "this is my last Christmas". It worked so well she had 15 more last Christmases. My father loves to say "I'm failing, the end is near". After hearing it 1000 times it no longer has the impact it did the first time he said it. I respond one of two ways....totally ignore it or point out that he has said this many times before and it turned out to be untrue. He then insists it will be true THIS TIME. I try not to encourage this behavior.
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When he brings up his health, change the subject to someone else's health. Gradually draw him away from health issues to sports, weather or even politics.
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Anonymous84,
I can relate. Both of my parents have conditions that are psychologically based. One of them sounds similar to what you describe. It's longtanding, but, they didn't always have it. For my mom it started in her 40's. I tried to get her mental health care then, but, was not successful. My dad developed Conversion Disorder in his 70's. He was diagnosed, went on medication and has done wonderfully. Hardly any relapses. You could google to see details about it.

My mom's is psychosomatic based and she refuses medication or therapy. It's tough, because it eats her up with anxiety, depression and just misery from being sick. I would keep in mind that people with her condition really think they are sick and the mind can actually make them sick.

I would encourage you to learn as much about the condition as possible, depending on what your dad has, and discuss it with his doctor if you have the chance. Information is the key.

My mom's doctors have told her point blank what is causing her multiple ailments and what meds she needs, but, she says she can't tolerate the meds. (She doesn't even try.) So, I don't listen or comment on her complaints. I ignore them or tell her to contact her doctor. It's a shame too, because if not for this condition, she's actually a healthy person, but, in her mind, she is sick, in pain, having a stroke, having a blood clot, near death's door all the time. I just don't play her games anymore. And I don't feel guilty about it. She has to take responsibility for her own actions and refusal to accept proper mental health treatment. To me, she should feel guilty, since she makes the family members miserable with her ailments and overblown crisis.

I hope you can find some answers. I know it's tough. If you can get a proper diagnosis, at least, you'll know what you're dealing with. I read somewhere that what my mom has is often called "thick file syndrome." Referencing the thick medical files the patient has accumulated at the doctor, hospital, radiology labs, etc.  And the files mainly have complaints of all kinds of ailments with little real indication of anything that is wrong.  
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Some people do use their illnesses as a way to get attention. When I was a very young woman, I had a good friend who had polio as a child. She, unfortunately, defined herself through her illnesses. She made decisions that weren't smart or healthy that resulted in more medical problems. She picked crummy doctors who were "nice" to her and gave her poor medical advice. I finally wised up when I caught her in lies about how her family wasn't there for her (they were). She manipulated me for several years because I was young and naive and caring.

I'm not saying your dad is that way, but I know some people are. I currently have a friend who focuses on her health constantly. She doesn't take care of herself and has more medical issues as a result. What I'm trying to do is to pay more attention to her around non- medical stuff and not focus on her medical stuff as much.

Since your dad says to change the subject, then honor that. Be loving and involved, but don't focus too much on dad's medical situation if you feel you're being manipulated. It's very hard, I know.
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What exactly is your father doing, besides being sick, that makes you so angry?
Describe this 'method' he's using.


Without knowing more, I think if your father is taking the stance of it's 'all in God's hands' then take his advice and try not to worry. You care for your father and that is admirable, but if it's eating you alive then you need to pull back.
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