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Why My High-Functioning Anxiety Means I Must Be a 'Liar'

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I am a liar. By no means can you ever trust a word coming from these lips. I have learned the art of making stories seem so real you have no doubt they are true — especially when I tell you, “I am OK, and I’ll eventually see things through.” It’s rough, pretending to others you’re as courageous and strong as they believe you are.

Sometimes you rather not let others down, by not letting them see you so far down the rabbit hole. I am a great pretender. I’ve mastered the art of letting stories take my actual presence; it’s a superpower, really.

I tell lies. Practically stories, of people who are me but not me. Stories of someone I wish I could be when anxiety doesn’t destroy me. It’s my great escape and terrifying curse, because it’s so much cooler to be someone else than me.

I am a skilled actor; I jest. I’m truly very good at just making up stories to hide my fears. Why? Because if I were to tell the truth — that working 80+ hours a week, being a full-time student, married with high-functioning anxiety and depressive disorder causes an internal destruction of my sanity? I’m called lazy as hell, that I’m a whiner and I need to grow up, or that I need to put my “big girl pants” on and face the real world like everyone does.

I’ve learned firsthand, secondhand, and thirdhand that telling the honest truth about why I need to come in later for work or even take a day off from work will cause people to shun me. I’ve seen the look on their faces when I openly tell the truth and was told it was all in my head. I’ve always had someone make my reasons feel invalidated by statements like these:

“Well, I’ve had a bad day too but I’m still working hard.” Or… “I get tired too, you just have to pull through it, it’s all in your head.”

Well, that’s just it. It is all in my head because my anxiety and the depression monsters love playing tag and jumping up and down on the cushions of my brain. Wreaking havoc and destruction on my concentration, deliberately dangling normalcy in front of me like a piece of meat but then jerking it away when I want some semblance of peace.

It’s hard to express I am not OK; it hurts so much to tell someone the truth. Because I’ve already seen so many witch hunts on people who struggle like I do, in silence because we feel invalid by our illnesses.

That is why I feel I must paste on my fake personality — pretend I am invincible when I feel like I’m dying from my insides caving in on each other. I have to don my clothes, even when my body hurts from crying and shaking from the terrible thoughts running in my head. I must paint a face upon my true face, to hide the flaws and the dark circles around my eyes from the lack of sleep caused by nightmares of possibly messing up and losing my job. I must be perfect. I need to pretend to be damn good at being someone who doesn’t struggle with anything. I must be… an excellent citizen of society.

I must be the perfect liar.

Follow this journey on Letters from a Highly Functional Walking Disaster

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Unsplash photo via Jorge Rojas

Originally published: May 11, 2017
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