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To find my friend's fixation with ill children on Facebook a bit odd?

(18 Posts)
awkwardas78 Tue 12-Jan-16 23:11:40

Ok I'm braced for a flaming but my friend who lives quite a way from me has two children who are frequently going to the doctor/hospital with various ailments - literally every time she texts me each week one or either of them has something wrong eg tonsillitis, gastro problems etc etc. So I understand she's terribly unlucky with her children's health and would have a heightened empathy with parents going through struggles.

However I have recently discovered she has "liked" the Facebook pages of well over fifty strangers around the world who have terminally ill children - all different illnesses. These pages are called things like "Kirsty's battle" and "pray for Ella" etc. Please don't think I'm incapable of empathy - I have been moved by the struggles of local parents in difficult situations that I've read in our local paper and I've supported their fundraising etc but I can't quite understand what she gets out of following so many desperately sad situations of people she doesn't know on Facebook. It must make her desperately sad to read it continuously. Is it just that she's more kind hearted than others? Is it possible for these kind of things to turn into a bit of an obsession?

Obviously I would never say anything to her but was it unreasonable of me to balk a little at the amount of these pages she follows? Does anyone else follow these kind of pages? I don't want a bun fight or anything I would just really value people's opinions on this kind of thing. Thanks!

coffeeisnectar Tue 12-Jan-16 23:16:53

I follow two but I know the families and as I've been involved with a charity that works with disabled children I have an awful lot of friends whose children have complex medical needs.

What strikes me is her children needing to see a doctor almost weekly. Unless they have underlying health issues then it seems to be attention seeking behaviour if this is all the time. I'd be concerned about that and her seeming to seek attention from their ill health as she seems a bit obsessed.

I don't mean this in a horrible way but maybe she's got issues of her own that need to be dealt with.

LindyHemming Tue 12-Jan-16 23:16:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

knittingqueen Tue 12-Jan-16 23:20:37

I follow some. In one or two cases it was because the child was initially diagnosed with my own (lifelong but not lifethreatening) medical condition and I was pointed their way by others in case I could offer insight/support (as a child I/my parents benefited from older disabled people letting them know stuff, I like to pay it forward). Then it turned out they had a different condition which is terminal. I don't want to withdraw my support just because it turns out my situation isn't relevant. Once you follow one or two it's easy to be pointed to others because say they mention "my friend so and so from hospital is ill and it's their birthday please go say hi" so you do

I used to follow a lot more but now it's down to those I've followed for years mostly. I did have to make a conscious choice to step back.

TheSecondViola Tue 12-Jan-16 23:29:28

So I understand she's terribly unlucky with her children's health

is she though? Is there anything actually wrong with them? If she's obsessed with poor health/terminal illness in children, its not impossible that she is exaggerating her childrens "illnesses".

awkwardas78 Tue 12-Jan-16 23:36:34

I often wondered that too in the early years because it just seemed implausible that they could get ill so often. They've both apparently got (different) chronic non life threatening conditions now and presumably the doctors/consultants she sees would know it was genuine. I don't live near her so can't judge for myself but she's a very good friend and there's no way I could contemplate her inventing or inflicting illness on them.

ElsaAintAsColdAsMe Tue 12-Jan-16 23:40:32

If her children have chronic conditions she is probably chatting to parents of children with similar conditions online and liking their pages.

Nothing odd with that really.

awkwardas78 Tue 12-Jan-16 23:46:04

I agree - they're not similar conditions though, that's the thing.

Ditsy4 Tue 12-Jan-16 23:53:17

I agree it is a bit worrying. Over fifty different illnesses hmmm! Perhaps you could keep in contact with her a bit more maybe she is lonely or depressed.

Slutbucket Wed 13-Jan-16 00:04:51

Thing is these stories do turn up on your news feed and it doesn't take two minutes to like and comment. Maybe these stories just resonate with her or she may use them as a reminder that her situation isn't as bad.

ShowYourSeams Wed 13-Jan-16 00:17:30

I follow several of these pages because the child has the same condition as my children. They're perfect strangers, but the condition is so rare it's 'nice' to be involved in a community of people that are sharing the same heartache as me and we all super each other.

There are also another 1/2 I follow because I personally know the people involved.

I'd never think to follow one of these pages unless there was something personal to me. And the fact that they all have different illnesses is a bit odd.

Do your friend children genuinely have health issues?

Have you heard of Munchausen's Syndrome By Proxy?

ohlittlepea Wed 13-Jan-16 04:23:39

This is a bit odd, Can you be honest with her about it? Perhaps shes just really empathetic an and wants to help, but It could be related to anxiety or fabricated illness syndrome. If you are concerned about her behaviour to her own children please speak to sw or her go surgery xxx

knobblyknee Wed 13-Jan-16 05:27:06


Beat me to it.

Fratelli Wed 13-Jan-16 07:49:56

Many people follow due to supporting the families or charity work they do etc. However, unfortunately some people like things on Facebook to make it look like they care without actually doing anything to help. Munchausen by proxy is rare and is a mental illness. Many sufferers of it actually fabricate or even cause symptoms in the child or person they care for to gain attention for themselves. If you suspect this to be the case please encourage her to seek help.

awkwardas78 Wed 13-Jan-16 07:50:38

I worried about Munchausen's too originally. Like I say though I'm not near enough to know if they're fabricated or not but she sees doctors and consultants so surely she couldn't be making it up? One child is even home educated because of his illness - I don't know how she could do all that by making it up. I don't think I can talk to her about it without upsetting her or losing her.

Shoxfordian Wed 13-Jan-16 13:28:37

Would be very difficult to address this with the woman herself; she may not have munchausen's but I think the blogs can be untrue

I don't read them often but I found this interesting story:

I'd be skeptical of some of these stories, especially if they ask for money

TheSecondViola Wed 13-Jan-16 13:44:09

MbyP is very rare and very serious, but like most disorders there is a very wide spectrum, and you can be a person who exaggerates illnesses, reads much more into them than is there, etc, without being close to having actual MbyP.

Eg I know a woman who brings her children to the dr's about weekly. If they look slightly pale she asks for iron tests, if they sneeze they have the flu, if they are not hungry one day she thinks they must be sickening for chicken pox or measles etc. It's an expression of her own health anxiety. She is a long way from causing her children to be ill for the attention though.

awkwardas78 Wed 13-Jan-16 20:06:55

Thanks all x

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