“Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I’m delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever.” -Baron Munchausen

Why would anyone in their right mind assign themselves diagnoses that so many of us desperately wish we could erase from our medical files forever?

Struggling for an adequate and logical response? Yeah, so are the rest of us.

There’s no clear cut reason for why people feign illness. For some it’s a quick paycheck, knowing wallets and purses open readily to those in dire circumstances. For others it’s deeper rooted, feeding a need for attention they may not even realize they have. For those people their lies make up their own twisted reality. They truly believe that they are going through these horrific ordeals and relish the well wishes and companionship garnered from their pseudo-medical journey.

Why choose to write about this, of all things, this week? Like most topics, because it’s weighing heavily on my heart.

Factitious disorder – more commonly known as Munchausen syndrome – is hard to gain any real understanding for. The knee jerk reaction of most people is to brush it off as a poor choice, calling it a despicable action, and ostracizing the individual. I won’t lie, my knee jerk reaction is to want to pummel the specific person that inspired this blog post. To make them feel even one tiny fraction of what myself and others go through even on our GOOD days… To think someone would go out of their way researching and imitating symptoms for the coddling begotten over the internet for how hard their life must be? It is absolutely mind blowing and makes me physically nauseous.

I’ve spent 15 years fighting to hide these issues and be “normal”.
-Obviously I have my own brand of normal.
I’ve spent 15 years fighting to be taken seriously.
-I still have to with every new specialist I see.
I’ve spent 15 years fighting to be understood by my own family.
-They still don’t get it.
I’ve spent 15 years fighting symptoms from meds used to treat symptoms.
-Some of which have totally destroyed my quality of life.
I’ve spent 15 years fighting to find other people like me that could understand.
-Which I have and am infinitely thankful for.
I’ve spent 15 years fighting to raise awareness for rare diseases.
-People still don’t give a crap. It just isn’t important to them.
I’ve spent 15 years fighting to keep what few friends I had.
…And then one pulls something like this.

To have someone so casually shit all over 15 years of fighting is offensive to say the least.

If it hadn’t been a friend, someone I’d confided in on my worst days, vented to, trusted, and allowed past my fortress style barrier erected to keep most everyone out…if it hadn’t been them, then maybe it wouldn’t seem like such an affront. It started off unrelated to my own issues. Googling vague symptoms, complaining of a mystery illness that at first didn’t affect them, but another member of the family. As time wore on, and doctor’s addressed all those concerns leaving them unsatisfied with normal results, the attempts at more rare diagnostics and claims of off the wall symptoms increased. A doctor finally reported this person with the belief that they were suffering from a factitious disorder and needed to seek more than medical help.

Fast forward a year, and suddenly the strange symptoms all belong to the individual. Conversations had in the past about my bad days are being repeated to me, nearly verbatim. Suspicious, but figuring it’s coincidence, it’s brushed under a rug. It went on for months before I cut ties. Now, 10 months later, I come to find that this individual is sharing bits and pieces of a medical journey that is not their own and claiming an emergency room diagnosis.

I’m pretty vague in this blog. I don’t come out and tell you all my issues, and really I don’t intend to. The purpose of the blog isn’t for me to say “I have all these letters of the alphabet, like pokemon, and the list just keeps going!” It’s simply a place for me to be able to express myself (ie: my current frustrations). I can tell you, however, that the diagnosis in question is not made in an emergency room. Like I mentioned a few weeks ago, I spend a lot of time in emergency rooms educating the staff who haven’t the first clue what it even IS, so to have it said that it was diagnosed -without invasive testing (which is one of the few ways TO diagnose)- and without a neurologist is remarkably unbelievable.

I suppose anything is possible in the grand scheme of things, but given the individual’s history? I’d sooner believe in the existence of unicorns.

“But why do you even care? Just let it go!”
I know. Believe me, I know, and I wish I weren’t so invested in it that it didn’t hurt my feelings. I wish that I just didn’t care about this person and could brush it off as if they were entirely insane, but the truth of the matter is that I can’t. I may cut off friendships that are unhealthy to preserve myself but one of my worst flaws is the fact that I continue to give a shit long after I should have burnt the hell out of those bridges, salted the ashes, and reburned them.

I keep holding out hope that someday, somehow, this person will find some modicum of peace in their own mind, as it’s obviously not that way for them right now. I hope that their family thrives beyond the anxious circles they pace while dealing with all of it. I hope for their joy and happiness….but I’m still hurt, and I’m still angry, and I need time to be.

Why do people feign illness? Sometimes the addiction to illness trumps the needs for mental health. What can you do if you know someone suffering in this way? Tell someone. It’s difficult, increasingly so as the internet gives a stage for this type of thing, but reach out to close family for help…or if it is family to your own doctor to find out what you can do in situations like this.

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