This article is difficult for me to write.
It is difficult because there are things about myself that I have yet to accept. I’m still on a journey, and although I have taken many steps already, the road seems to stretch eternally before me. I’m sure you can relate. We are all trying to improve, not to remain the same person we were yesterday if we can be better tomorrow.
Most people don’t have to fight against mental illness while they’re doing it, moving forward, growing. I can speak to my experience, that is all. But I hope that maybe this article will make you feel a little less alone if you suffer for something similar.
I find it easy to be honest on this blog. I risk very little when I tell you all that I’m having a manic day, and am more likely to get supportive tweets when I communicate an anxiety inducing event. In my everyday life, however, I lie to everyone.
I lie every single day of my life.
Let me be clear – this is not the “I stole from you but I’m going to deny it” kind of lying. This is the “I’m never for one second okay, but I will tell you I’m okay, I will act normal, until I completely break apart” kind of lie.
Simple: I think the truth is complicated. Too complicated for you to handle.
When my heart is racing, blood pumping too quickly through my veins and arteries, panic running under my skin and up my back into my scalp, muscles tensed and ready to spring at the first sign of nonexistent danger – that’s the day that I’ll say I feel too sick to get up. I have the flu, I’ll tell you, with my best groggy and pained voice. I just need the day to recover, I’ll be able to push through it tomorrow. Most of the time that is true, I can push through it the next day, but the lie always hangs there, fogging my mind and reaching tendrils of cold guilt into my already heavy, so heavy heart.
When I can’t handle the pressure of being around other people, when my hands tingle and heart beats low and hard, I tell you I have a cold. Better for me to stay away. No, I don’t need anything, thanks. A hacking cough, one I’ve been practicing since I was 5, drives the lie home. More fog. So heavy.
And then there are days when the fog lifts a little, the lies recede, because yes, I really am feeling okay. At those times, being around people gives me energy, and I don’t have to obsessively search for all the exits to a room to stave off a panic attack.
I cherish those days.
If you have ever experienced what I’m talking about, I hope that you have days like that, days that you can cherish.
Those days are worth fighting for.
So I guess the point of this long string of words is this: You are not alone. Even if you have to lie to make it through the day, it’s okay. Someday, you will be able to tell the truth.
I will say this: My story is not over. I build a new paragraph every day, month, year. I will get to the point where I never have to lie to get through the day. And the truth is, the fight to get there, it’s worth it.