two-faced

Impostor. Pretender. Phony. Fraud.

Everywhere I go, I feel disingenuous. I’m always pretending, whether I am at work, or with friends, or even in the mental health community. I’m good at faking wellness; I work hard to seem normal enough on the outside while I am struggling on the inside. However I always feel dishonest wherever I find myself.

I hide my mental illness from my employer, even though by law they are not supposed to discriminate based on health conditions. But because they have designated my job a “safety sensitive” position, I have to be “fit for duty” when working. If I told my employer, would they be afraid I could suddenly snap? Would I be forced off work until I could demonstrate I had recovered (as if that is even possible)?

I don’t tell my coworkers or my few friends about my mental health, and I dissemble when the subject comes up in conversation. Would they not believe me because I act “normal”, or would they overreact because they wonder if I could “go nuts” on any given day? Would people suddenly avoid me for fear of being associated with the crazy dude, or would they tell my employer that I was hiding the truth? I’m not willing to take the risk.

I avoid settings like group therapy meetings, forums, and online communities because I don’t want to face reverse stigma. Would people who are truly struggling not accept me because I don’t seem to be as ill as they are? Would people judge me for being “high functioning” and feel like I was just looking for attention? Even in the hospital mental health ward, someone told me I seemed the most normal out of everyone, and that bothered me.

In the past I have wondered if my psychiatrist takes me less seriously because I’m not as sick as his other patients. I think that was the case several years ago with Dr. PrescriptionPad and his 7-minute appointments. [Fortunately, I think my current doctor does take me seriously and seems to listen to me when I describe how I am feeling.]

I guess this is why all my mental health issues come out in my blog, because I have an outlet where people can come or go, read or not, and I never hear about it if they think I’m only doing it for attention. I can be honest here, even though I am doing so under a fake name in the hope no one in real life ever finds me (which is a story for another day).

Note: here’s a post by Meghan which discusses similar feelings.

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4 thoughts on “two-faced

  1. anne

    You don’t have to worry about me judging or being worried about you “snapping.” I have longevity and context with regard to how you exist in the world, and you know that I struggle too. I’m not saying I know it all – there is no way to know everything about anyone – but I am comfortable with you, and I am comfortable being myself with you (on the whole!). Anyway, I hope your day is decent.

  2. I mask constantly too. From afar, I look like I may have my shit together, but it’s far from that, and to quote Clueless, “She’s a full-on Monet. […] It’s like a painting, see. From far away it’s okay, but up close it’s a big ol’ mess.”
    It’s easier that way most of the time, to not let people know. Then you don’t have to let anyone in. I lived like that for many many years until I couldn’t anymore. It’s intense, to let people in.. but it is usually worth it. Especially with friends. It’s lonely out here.

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