My Anxiety Makes Me a Liar
When I look at myself in the mirror these days, I wonder what happened to the independent and strong person who used to smile back at me every day. She must be lying somewhere hidden under all the makeup and fake smiles that I paste on daily to act like I am truly a fierce competitor, capable of the tasks lying ahead. I dabbed on my foundation, even though it takes so much energy to do even one stroke against my skin. I perfect the cat eye winged liner, which creates so much anxiety because I want it to look perfect with my facade. The final touch is to smear the color red on these lips of mine, a bold color, so people look at my lips versus my eyes because my eyes can give away my true feelings.
I’m a work of art. I’m strong, capable, independent and fierce and am someone who can challenge the monsters waiting to attack from the wings. But I am also a liar.
By day, I can handle the tasks flooding me. I can take the angry and degrading shouts from clients who want something perfect. I will meet your gaze head on and tell you, “I can do it.” As those hours tick by, the slashes from the verbal abuse, the stress of getting everything correct, the nonstop voices in my head crying out to not stop and take a break or my work will see me as useless, dig themselves into the walls of my skull. It paints a portrait of the anxiety that keeps building and building inside me until the last minute passes when my work day ends, my whole day ends and I am by myself in my home on the floor crying from exhaustion and a pain that no one can relate to.
The thoughts in my head keep running. They say how I need to be better, I can’t be crying, I need to be strong and resilient, I need to be a much better liar than I was yesterday. These thoughts keep rambling in my head, striking a type of pain so harsh and inescapable, it’s a choking and compressing feeling that sinks hard into my body. Anxiety and depression sidling into my bones, it’s a terrible weight I can never remove because it’s “all in my head.”
I’ll stay there until I somehow manage to crawl my way back onto my feet and walk in a daze to my room and repeat the cycle of washing, cleaning and sometimes force myself to eat before lying down for the night. Then the second battle of my day begins, forcing my thoughts to shut off as I try to provoke some type of sleep to come to me. But it won’t come easy, it never does, as the memories of the day come flooding back.
I can see the fake me handling my job, and taking every shout, comment and nasty remark that someone hurls at me and fake that it does nothing. Liar. I hear myself say I can do what is required of me. Liar. I can hear me tell everyone that there’s nothing to worry about and we can get shit handled, don’t stress. Liar. I can see my co-worker standing in front of me, their eyes on me as I try to juggle phone calls and paper work.
“Are you OK?”
I answer with a smile, a practiced gesture from my years of pretending to be good at being normal and say, “I’m awesome!”
My lies overwhelm me as my heart screams the truth.
I am not OK. I can’t do what you ask. I’m more worried than everyone else is at failing that I end up letting it consume me from the inside out and tear me apart.
When will I be able to stop lying and stop pretending I’m OK? When will I be free from wearing a mask created by my lies? When will the pain stop?
But I’ll keep rising with the day, after a sleepless night of terrible thoughts bombarding me. I’ll continue to put on my makeup and hide that pain inside, because if I’ve learned one thing to be good at. It’s being a liar, who is capable of hiding their anxiety with a gentle smile.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via berdsigns.