My Mother-in-Law Accused of Faking My Disabilities
For people living with invisible illness, it isn’t unheard of to be accused of faking such illnesses. We are chronically ill and chronically subjected to gaslighting. Now, I may have considered myself one of the lucky ones as I hadn’t been accused of faking my disabilities before now. At least, not directly.
When my mother in law accused me of having Munchausen Syndrome, well, I discovered a new strain of ableism. To be fair to anyone with Munchausen Syndrome, or more recently known as Factitious Disorder, that is actually a legitimate and very serious mental illness that requires appropriate medical treatment. It’s also important to note that a layperson cannot differentiate between someone with Factitious Disorder and someone with other chronic health issues.
My mother in law is ignorant and clearly doesn’t fully understand the complexity of Factitious Disorder, she only wished to accuse me of faking my disabilities for attention.
Chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia is invisible, but just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s easy for someone to look at me and see a normal healthy person. It’s easy for someone to accuse me of faking my pain.
However, with POTS, I am physically incapable of altering my heart rate to falsely present symptoms. A POTS diagnosis involves your heart rate increasing by at least 30bpm upon standing. There’s no way to fake that.
I am aware that these comments by my mother in law say more about her than they do about me. Hence, as I’m writing this, I know she will never read it, as she has never taken the time to get to know me or understand my illnesses. Now, she has crossed a line so badly that I have no desire to speak with her ever again.
My illnesses produce symptoms that are severe enough to be completely disabling. I am not currently able to work. This was never good enough for my mother in law. My partner on the other hand has been extremely supportive. She has been by my side the entire time, attending doctors and specialist appointments with me. She has witnessed my struggle first hand and seen the proof that I actually am disabled.
There’s no excuse for ignorance anymore with so much information available to us. People who refuse to learn more are not worth our time or energy.
Living with POTS, I have to be very careful where I spend my time and energy. POTS symptoms are known to worsen during times of emotional stress. Worsening POTS symptoms also aggravate my chronic pain, so I have to be really mindful with my focus.
I’m focusing my energy on healing as much as I possibly can. I’m open trying anything that may help, which is why I’ve recently started hypnotherapy for my gut issues. My sister has found some success with that! I’ve remained as physically active as possible, whilst also contributing to the household as much as I can. Of course, I have many limitations and things I am unable to do. I am focusing on doing things within my own ability.
I will always be an advocate for disability and refuse to be silenced. Disability needs all the attention it can get! I will continue to share my story to raise awareness. I can only raise awareness if others are willing to listen. I’m just doing my best. That’s all I can do.