Invisible disabilities are real, and many people suffer from them while also having to deal with skeptics calling them fakers or liars. A lot of the time, it’s hard to be diagnosed with a condition that manifests as general pain or aching. Disability rights activists have been really integral recently in raising awareness about this issue and also advocating for folks with disabilities, but there are challenges.
One Redditor who has a disability recently became good friends with a woman who also has a disability. But when that woman started mimicking the OP’s particular disability — pain specifically in her hand — the OP had a lot of questions for her and thinks she might be faking it.
“I (26F) have been friends for a decade with ‘Janet’ (24F). We had never been super close up until 2020. Janet has always had some sort of disability, the most prominent being an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic pain. Janet is also very prominent on social media, and often discusses her disabilities very openly. I am not, and haven’t really discussed mine in length.”
“Recently, I have been afflicted by really bad pains in my hands due to my job. I expressed how badly things had gotten when I found myself physically incapable of using my left hand for the most basic of tasks, such as picking up a pencil, or waving. I told Janet about it, as she is a friend, and she was sympathetic. But then, less than 24 hours later, I went onto her social media and I found her crying to her followers about her own ‘chronic hand pain.’ I was kind of dumbfounded, since she had just been with me the day before opening jars and carrying around things with no pain or complaints. I decided to let this go and believe that she may in fact be suffering like I am because, how do I know if she hasn’t been dealing with this? But then it started getting weird.”
“Janet started asking me more and more questions. What the pain feels like, how frequently, does it shoot to other places or was it localized, etc. At first, I didn’t think anything of it and answered her…only for her to have the same type of pain less than 24 hours later! I was shocked that she would say that she had the same level and type of pain as me, even using the same terminology I did. I decided to stop answering her questions, and for a couple months, she stuck with what she had already told her following. Until last night.”
“After a few visits with my doctor, my pain is gone, thankfully. The only thing that is gone for good is the grip strength I once had, but I just have to cope with it and manage. Janet called me last night and I, stupidly, told her that my pain is gone and explained my grip strength issues. Can you guess what happened next? This morning, less than 12 hours later, Janet posted a 20 minute sob fest on social media regarding her ‘grip strength,’ and how she is going to have to cope with it leaving her. I watched as she dramatically let tears fall down her face while discussing how she can’t do basic tasks anymore. Frustrated, I texted Janet and told her to stop mimicking my very painful condition and using my symptoms as her own for her following and for attention. She wrote back that I was an a**hole for suggesting she was doing that, and then ran to her social media to state that a friend thinks she’s faking and how hurt she is. At first, I gave her the benefit of the doubt, but after her symptoms mirrored mine so quickly, it was suspicious. Am I the a**hole?”
The OP added some information:
“Edit for clarity: I do not know what kind of autoimmune disorder she has or if that is a contributing factor to her pain. She told me that she has not been tested, but she feels she has one, she just doesn’t know which one. I didn’t ask further questions because it’s not my business. I also do not discount any pain she has, as I stated, I first was sympathetic with her because I was not going to assume that she was not experiencing things. However, the only time it was brought up was when I had expressed something about mine to her, either good or bad. And this has gone on since late October, so it’s not a snap judgement kind of deal.”
What do Redditors think?
“NTA. Dump the friend. Mocking/mirroring/minimalizing your very real disabilities is ableist as hell and she should be ashamed of herself. But she won’t be, so get rid of her.” —Logical_Block1507
“That edit is enraging. I have Multiple Sclerosis, and I’m in pain every single day. I’ve run into too many people who don’t understand what an invisible disability is, or they think they know some random little thing I can change to help myself become fully healed. People like that “friend” don’t give a shit if they unintentionally spread incorrect info, just so long as they get attention and have their followers.” —DragonCelica
“Seeing that she ran to her followers to rat out OP, i don’t think she’s capable of empathy on a level to be ashamed of herself, so its best to cut losses and move on.” —Material-Paint6281
“Nta. Shes not your friend, move on. But it would be interesting if you fed her a bunch of bs symptoms that don’t match up with her problems and watch her followers connect the dots and figure out she’s faking, she’d get a lot more attention then lol.” —FutureGhost23
“Sounds like she could have Munchausen syndrome.” —Ok_Release7133