Fibro or Faker signs to look for

Living Creatively with Fibro | Fibro or Faker?

Recently I read this wonderfully sarcastic post by Shelley entitled 5 Tips for Faking Chronic Illness, a fellow blogger from the Fibro Blogger Directory and in many ways, it gave me the inspiration for this post namely Fibro or Faker signs to look for.


Practically everyone I talk to who has Fibromyalgia or similar chronic health conditions at some point or other brings up the subject of guilt. They are constantly feeling that they are letting people down be they colleagues, family or friends. Recently I was talking (typing) with someone in a forum who was feeling really guilty for being off work. Let’s look at this from a different perspective, who except possibly the owner of a small business, ever feels guilty for taking annual leave? Not many people I’m sure.

Taking leave is “allowed and expected” whereas being on sick is seen as “doing wrong.” When I was in full-time employment I was always happy to muck in and do extra if a colleague was ill without thinking twice about it and yet I felt the same guilt if it was me taking the time off. Even though I now work (without an income still 7 years later) for myself as a blogger, so that I can take the time I need when I am not well to rest and recover I still have the feelings of guilt that I am not doing as much housework as I feel I should.

In the first initial year or so of a chronic illness you can’t escape the guilt. Although in time you learn that it only makes your symptoms worse. If someone develops an illness and there is absolutely no guilt coming from them, just maybe they are hiding laziness behind a chronic health label… Guilt leads on well to the second sign.


The majority of people I come across with Fibromyalgia have had a good productive life before Fibro hit. Many were even overachievers and you commonly find that they still have aspirations for what they hope to achieve. Depending upon the level of chronic illness they have their ambitions may have changed or reduced but they still have aspirations to achieve something and they can comfortably describe this.

Living Creatively with Fibro | Aspirations Plan A and Plan B crossed out with Plan C written underneath.

If someone has no aspirations perhaps they never planned to achieve anything and a chronic illness label allows them to achieve this goal.


A common pattern you tend to find in the Chronic Health forums is that people are constantly researching, whether it is for an ultimate cure or even just a treatment to at least alleviate some of the symptoms. People with Fibro and other chronic health conditions want to get better and reclaim their lives they do not want to be ill. If someone seems to be uninterested in getting better maybe they don’t actually want to (unless they have been ill for such a long time that they have researched until they are blue in the face and have tried every possible suggested cure and could write the book themselves)!

Unpredictable Highs and Lows

With a lot of chronic health conditions, people can have good and bad periods, sometimes you can do things to try and reduce the chance of having the flares for instance by reducing or preferably removing stress. Some triggers cannot be controlled like weather changes that affect a lot of Fibro sufferers. The reality of living with a chronic health condition is that you can be sick at Christmas, you can end up missing things you have looked forward to and even end up cancelling holidays – that’s a different story. If someone seems to always be well for the good stuff and always ill when there is work to be done – yes, I’d hear alarm bells too! which leads me nicely on to the fifth one…

Variable Symptoms

The very nature of a chronic health condition is the fact that it is variable. Everyone has good and bad not even just days but even hours. There are the dreaded Flare-ups and not all of them are the same, check out this post for flare-up information. But there are the good times too when you overreach even knowing it can cause pain the next day because then and there in that moment you felt like your old self and you grab onto the feeling so hard and don’t want to let go. Michael just has to look at my face to see exactly how I am doing. Fakers do not have that experience so they may feel the need to be visibly constantly in the same level of pain.

Fibro or Faker Goals

Fibro or Faker? It all adds up

It all adds together. Fakers do not feel the guilt because they have no aspirations. They are not busy researching unless it is to find symptoms to fake and ultimately they do not feel the pain of a bad day to display the difference a good day brings so they stay in the same state.

Why fake?

It would be all too easy to feel angry about people who fake chronic health conditions because they can all too easily end up making life difficult for the rest of us who understand the daily struggle, however, I think fakers need to be looked at on their own merit. There is a myriad of reasons from the basic defrauders who luckily the system tends to catch up with to a wide range of socio-economic reasons and just maybe I will explore these another day! Of course if somebody is choosing to completely limit the quality of their own life for no reason, it could also be argued they are dealing with a mental health condition and are therefore sick anyway, just in a different way.

The take away

In some ways this is a light hearted post and has over the years been one of my most read. If you have found this post for the purpose of being suspicious of somebody and looking for evidence to make an accusation. I urge you to stop. Instead, just approach the person with kindness and understanding coupled with the intention of really listening to them. Many people who are genuinely living with a chronic illness have been accused or faking, even my loved ones. It can take people a while to trust even family members, especially if they feel disbelieved. Don’t be that person who makes a bad situation even worse.

Until next time,
Gentle Hugs,

18 responses to “Fibro or Faker signs to look for”

  1. Fibr 18 avatar

    I really loved this post! I have never met a faker, but I suppose they are out there. If people are close to you, I’m wondering how they could be taken in. Often it’s a family member or friend that tells me it’s time to stop and rest. As one of my friends said, “I’ve seen you look this way before. It’s nap time.”

    1. Susan Pearson avatar

      Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I have been aware of the odd faker and I just wish they understood the damage they did. Unfortunately fakers are often surrounded by others that are equally keen to milk the goodwill of the state and other people. As you say the people closest to real spoonies just get it!

      1. sophie M avatar
        sophie M

        I do know someone close to the family I suspect is faking. They got diagnosed and received benefits in under a year. But they are do a lot of active outgoing person stuff like skiing holidays and trips everywhere. And they’re always out and about. But they don’t do anything they consider too hard in their daily life. They don’t work as they say it’s too hard but they’re so active. They go out every day to see friends and they go to fitness classes and sporty stuff like that. And they’re always on their computer for personal reasons like it’s no bother but it would be a bother to do so for work. They never tried to hold a job. Ever. And I know a lot of people with fibro have tried ventures and had them fail due to their condition. This person has never tried. But their fibro stops them from doing the dishes, cleaning their house, picking their kids up from school, etc. They get someone else to do that. But they can drive everywhere else fine. And they have never once expressed guilt about any of it. They just say they can’t so someone else has to do it for them. I’m really confused. Pain is real. And this person never acts like they’re in a lot of pain. Ever. Never heard them mention skin sensitivity or anything like that. They have vaguely mentioned random aches and pains and intermittent insomnia without going into detail. I don’t know what the proper avenue to take is because it’s already an unidentifiable disease. I believe it’s a real disease but I don’t believe this person.

        1. Susan Pearson avatar

          I’m sorry if they are affecting you. Obviously, I can’t give a real opinion as I am not a doctor and I haven’t even met this person. The biggest complication with Fibro (well one of them) is that it affects everyone differently. Although there are core symptoms many of the others affect some people badly and don’t affect other people at all.

          Some people do find sports activities helps them. Many people can drive, but then when they get home they are done in for the day.

          Many people also don’t like talking about all their symptoms to anyone bar their closest relatives and friends… there is nothing worse than moaning all the time.

          If they feel that you don’t believe them they may be reluctant to open up to you, because many people with Fibro have people (including some medics) who don’t believe them. Or of course, it is possible that they are one of the few people out there who do fake things.

        2. Amber Green avatar
          Amber Green

          I totally agree with you. I have a stepdaughter who has done everything in her power to drop out of college not pay any of her loans back and if she got a job, quit after a week saying the people at her work were immature whatever that meant. She won’t work and uses excuses to get out of working or paying bills. She lives off the working peoples taxes has been given everything she has including her vehicle cause my mother in law felt all the cars my husband and I found were not good enough. My stepdaughter is a spoiled brat her fathers own words and she is a product of it ni just stay out of it and bite my tongue. My stepdaughter posts on all kinds of social media saying she is dying chronically ill yet than in the same week posts her trying to surf, swim , exercise, go for hikes etc. The reason I am on a rant is because my older brother did have not only had a chronic illness but he had a terminal illness ( Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy) which my brother passed away before he was 17 years of age was in a wheelchair at the age of five so I do not apologise for my feelings about all the people including my stepdaughter who feel that it is okay to fake and live off of the tax paying people’s dollars and to seek out people’s pity

          1. Susan Pearson avatar

            I am sorry to hear about your brother, that must have been difficult to go through. Obviously, I don’t know anything about your stepdaughter, so I have no idea if she is genuine or not. As mentioned in another reply, some people with chronic illnesses can go for a hike. But it may take them several days to recover from it. Given your comment that she quite a job after a week saying her colleagues were immature. I think this really has a lot more to do with her personality (and the fact her father says she is spoilt) than her having (or not having) a chronic illness.
            Often people with chronic illnesses do rely on state benefits (when they can get them) but a lot of this is to do with employers expectations being out of reach of the chronically ill. Those of us that do rely on the help though do so out of necessity and certainly don’t want anyone’s pity but a more understanding society and economy.

  2. M. aurelle avatar
    M. aurelle

    I was leery when reading the title of this article as to what you were going to have to say but I feel you put it well, so thank you. People need to realize that like everything in life this article is a generalization of the illness and its effects. As one person said they have learned to overcome their guilt though it took five years. So I just want speak on a couple of points as it pertains personally to me. I do not have many aspirations nor do I do a lot of research. The reason is: right at this point I am very frustrated. I already suffered from a chronic illness BEFORE I was diagnosed with Fibro. I’m tired. Exhausted. So at this time I have literally given up. I am taking a physical and mental break and just sliding through doing the least possible to get by. I’m educated and understand that I can’t go on like this forever or everything will fall apart and yes, I have a counsellor to talk this all over with and no she’s not happy right now with my decision but I know it’s temporary. I know at some point I’m going to pick myself up, dust myself off and continue on and it’s taken everything to allow myself to do this (almost guilt free). What I have learned through all of this is that I know my body and what I am going through better than anyone else. It’s important for you to know that you will go through these trying periods too but also, you will get through it.

    1. Susan Pearson avatar

      Thank you for your post, M Aurelle, I am sorry you are going through such a rough time. I think you are absolutely right in giving yourself a period of complete rest. As the spoon theory goes you are probably not just broke at the spoon bank but completely overdrawn. If you have hit that point all you can do is completely switch off and almost put yourself in a vacuum. Given time hopefully, you can heal a little and gather your strength and when you are ready begin to find a new way forward. Good luck

  3. Jools avatar

    Sadly I know too many fakers and they just end up making us look bad. Great post gentle hugs to you.

  4. Kirsty avatar

    I have fibromyalgia- work full time, 2 kids one with a chronic illness who is currently in hospital – I try to never b off work but sometimes I crash and I feel bad when I’m off when I can’t keep the house tidy washing up to date and cook good meals . I have a friend with fibro doesn’t work claims benefits but can walk her dig for 4 hour marathons most days (I struggle going up the stairs) – pisses me off no end – especially when people think the tiredness is ur age and yes they are tired too – they have no idea if the mind numbing exhaustion it takes to be normal – rant over ?

    1. Susan Pearson avatar

      I’m so sorry I never replied to this Kirsty, feel free to rant away. Congratulations on still working full time as well as looking after children, that is pretty amazing. Be really proud of yourself I think you are pretty rare ?

  5. Cherie avatar

    While I agree with most of your points, I dislike the idea of using a person’s unnecessary guilt as a sign of the truthfulness of their condition. Yes, for the first 5 years after getting fibro I experienced a lot of guilt, but through therapy and personal acceptance, I was able to let go of it. Letting go of the guilt and accepting my health as it is was the best thing that happened for my health. I am now able to do more, be more consistent, and enjoy myself in ways I couldn’t before. And, without the ever-present guilt, I can be much more emotionally available to my family. We all function much better.

    Guilt is not the cost of a debilitating illness and should not be required for people to believe that it’s real. Feelings of unnecessary guilt are the results of destructive thought patterns. They are a waste of our valuable energy and keep us from reaching our true potential. I see too many situations in which feeling guilty is used as a badge of honor. Mother’s accepting that they’ll always feel guilty for not always doing the perfect thing, partners feeling guilty about not being everything for each other – as if the guilt is evidence of how much love is present. Unnecessary guilt is not evidence of how much we care about others. It is evidence of how little value we give ourselves.

    I will not feel guilty for having a disease that tried to steal my life. The life I have been able to create is too rich for that. And I love myself too much to allow destructive thoughts to take that away.

    1. Susan Pearson avatar

      Hi Cherie, I absolutely agree with you and I am doing my best to let go of my guilt too and I am only a couple of years in, as you said you fought with feelings of guilt for five years first before you were able to let it go. I was more referring to someone who never has a single days guilt about not being able to do things!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

  6. Patty avatar

    Hi Susan. I think this is a great post & honestly puts things in perspective. I was diagnosed with Fibro almost 25 yrs. ago. I fought 3 yrs. to finally get disability. I have other health issues besides Fibro too.
    I’m anxious to read more.

    1. Susan Pearson avatar

      Thank you, Patty, I can’t imagine what it must feel like having battled this for 25 years. I am only 2.5 years in and it is almost getting to the stage of feeling like forever. I have overlapping conditions like IBS and Sinus problems too.

      Thank you for your comment,

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