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As someone who had suffered from factitious disorder for most of my life, I knew if I didn’t get help, this psychiatric illness would eventually kill me. I was scared to share my secret with anyone because I was afraid of the repercussions. In hindsight, the secrecy became so powerful that I found myself feeling that there was no way out. The horrible  childhood abuse I endured lead to the disorder and the shame attached to the abuse kept it going. I learned trust through my therapy with Tom and gradually overcome the shame that kept me stuck. By working through my childhood trauma, I was able to disclose to Tom all the ways that I was creating illness and fooling doctors. He was non-judgmental, kind and consistently there for me, which made it possible to trust him. Letting go of the secrecy was my turning point. It’s been many years now since I’ve hurt myself and I’ve learned how to live a fulfilling and productive life. All thoughts of self-harm are gone.

By writing my story with Tom, my hope is that anyone who has factitious disorder (Munchausen syndrome) or hurts themselves will take the first step and tell someone. I completely understand the fear of disclosing your big secret but it is the only way to begin to heal. Tom and I would like to hear from anyone with Factitious Disorder and/or family and friends of people who suffer from this debilitating illness. We will listen, without judgment, and offer resources to get help.

Andrea Avigal

Facebook: Secrets Unraveled

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