By Teresa Acosta
During the six episodes of the “Sympathy Pains” podcast from iHeartPodcasts, an interesting story is told through the testimony of multiple people who were emotionally victimized by a girl named Sarah Delashmit.
Each episode focuses on one or two people describing their experiences and traumatic residual effects Delashmit had on their lives. She held those around her emotionally captive by telling them she had a multitude of illnesses, faked pregnancies or tragic deaths of close family members.
Sometimes, she would claim more than one of these events happening repeatedly throughout a short period of time. The one constant concern and something everyone seemed to agree on was that Delashmit needed mental health care and that she needed to be stopped.
The series is hosted, investigated and reported by Laura Beil, who is best known for her previous work on “Dr. Death” and “Bad Batch.”
Beil’s narration is woven in with interview audio and subtle background music. The story is told in a non-linear timeline that spans the course of 20 years.
There are a lot of commercials before, during and after the episode that feel a bit excessive.
The stories of deception included Delashmit faking the need for a wheelchair and attending camp for physically disabled people.
Delashmit continued the relationships she created with members of the camp beyond her stay. She built entire narratives around being disabled and telling her new friends about pregnancies that would end in miscarriages, still births, fatal medical conditions or simply accidents that would kill her non-existent children. She would then send photos of these children obtained from online profiles of strangers.
Other times, she found companionship with online support groups for cancer survivors, claiming she was one of them. After getting close to someone she would then claim that her cancer had returned and this time it was fatal.
Delashmit was not asking for money from these people. She craved the support they provided when they thought she was experiencing hardships. Her eventual downfall came when her growing list of victims started to find each other online and share their similar experiences and the truth about Delashmit’s health.
They tried to get her help through the television show “Dr. Phil.” She accepted an invitation into an immersive rehabilitation program, but failed to complete it. This failure was the final straw for some of her victims and they eventually sought legal action.
A surprising takeaway from the series was the care and concern these people still felt for Delashmit. They were able to understand that she was not mentally well and that she needed help. Some of them continue to care very deeply for her and still mourn the loss of her friendship.