How to deal with hypochondriac friend/colleague

Dear Brooke

I feel silly even writing this, but I am really struggling with how to deal with a colleague who is a hypochondriac. We work together very intensely, travelling for up to 4 weeks at a time so are together 24 hours a day. She is constantly talking about the illnesses she thinks she has, and faking symptoms for attention.

I feel stuck in a cycle of frustration and guilt for not being supportive enough, which makes me feel like a horrible person, while also worrying about her. It’s very hard to simply get more personal space from one another as we travel together for work, and I hate to hurt her feelings by not being sympathetic enough, but equally have so little patience left and am not willing to ‘play along’ when I know that she is lying to me about certain things.

I’m trying to do a model on it:
C – my friend says she is ill
T – she is lying to me. She does not respect me. She’s attention seeking. I’m horrible and unsympathetic. What if it’s real this time.
F – frustrated, guilty, sad, angry, selfish
A – Act passive aggressive, ignore her
R – it damages our relationship, and my relationship with myself

new model;
C – my friend says she is ill
T – she is suffering
F – compassionate, concerned, caring
A – Act kind and understanding.
R – stronger relationship with friend and self

My problem with this is that I feel like now I am disrespecting myself by saying that It’s ok for people to lie to me, and I won’t challenge them, and that self-pity is ok. They are things that I am actively trying to eliminate from my own life, so I struggle with the idea of ‘playing along’ just to keep the situation nice.

And now I feel like a horrible person to even ask this question! Argh!