I value transparency. It is important to me that I be authentic and that what you see with me be the true picture.
And so in that vein, I have a confession to make: I fake it a lot.
I’m not a fake person. You can’t really be transparent and fake. But sometimes, faking it is the only way to make it.
Because sometimes, I wake up in the morning and feel like the world is closing in on me. It feels like every horrible scenario I can imagine is imminent. It feels like my brain has been taken over by a swarm of angry wasps, buzzing and darting and swarming on anything that comes near. But those wasps don’t like sweet things. They only like bitter, scary things, and when something like that is allowed in they cover it…inhale it…dwell on it, making it impossible for it to escape. Bitter things are their favorite.
And sometimes, I wake up feeling numb. I want to escape my numbness…don’t want to be around myself while I’m that way…but at the same time, I feel like a huge part of me has already escaped and all I can do is wait for it to come back.
Those days are particularly hard.
One of the hardest things about depression and anxiety, I think, is that when I have bad days – and they’ve been coming more and more often lately – life doesn’t stop. I’m a mom. A wife. A grownup in a world that frowns on sick days. So when I feel bad – or feel nothing, as the case may be – I don’t often have the option of sitting it out awhile.
And so, given the very real demands of housekeeping and childrearing and marriage and carlines and sermons to write and a blog to maintain and laundry to fold, I can’t just curl into a fetal ball and wait for the buzzing in my head to stop or the missing part of me to return. I have to keep moving.
It gets worse when I stop moving, anyway, so I might as well keep on going.
On those days, all I can do is fake it. I have to fake that I feel like getting dressed. Fake that I feel like playing with my daughter. Fake that I feel like leaving the house and driving to town and shopping for groceries. Those are normal adult demands, and most of us have to fake it to some extent. But I – and others who live with this strange dichotomy of over-feeling and numbness – even have to fake that I feel like going to Target and stopping for an iced coffee at Starbucks on the way in. Nothing sounds good – not even my favorite ways to spend an afternoon – but it’s life. It keeps going, so I keep going, too.
I have to fake it so that I can make it.
So if you see me out and about, I might be having one of those days. Please keep in mind that I – and everyone else you see – am fighting a battle. It was likely a mental battle to get out of the house. If you’ve never been in the trenches of this particular war, you cannot imagine the assault I endured before I ever put my shoes on this morning.
If my smile seems insincere as I slip past you in the aisle, it’s because it is. I’m faking it so I can make it.
If I seem absentminded and wander the same aisles over and over and you notice I weave a convoluted path through the store, it’s because I am absentminded. My mind is focused on just keeping one foot moving in front of the other…on remembering to breathe in and out without hyperventilating…and in that survival mode other things must fall to the side. Just a warning: I’m probably going to drop a bunch of change and misplace my debit card in the checkout line. Please be patient with me.
If I seem miserable and like I don’t want to be there, it’s likely because I am and I don’t. I may be out of the house for no other reason than because staying in was a bad idea. I may be counting the hours until I can escape to sleep. I may be where I am just because it was a matter of survival.
I’m not alone in this, and mine isn’t the only battle being fought out there. Just keep in mind that there are vast volumes of stories playing under the surface of every casual smile and halfhearted greeting. There are wars raging inside even the most normal-looking of lives. You never know what someone is going through.
And if you’re like me, faking it just so you can make it, I’m lifting up a prayer for you today. A prayer that you can just keep going. A prayer that you see the light shining under the door. A prayer that you find someone in your life who understands. And a prayer that one day, maybe we’ll cross each other’s paths as we wander around Target. We’re in this together, and we’re going to make it. There’s nothing fake about that.