I am doing everything that I can. I’m going to therapy. I’m exercising. I’m going to bed at decent hours. I am taking my medications. But nothing seems to help. Life has just bogged me down to a place where I will have to be content to wait it out. I’m going to have to fake it until it feels okay again.
Fake it ’till you make it seems like terrible advice, doesn’t it? Especially from someone who is all about transparency and being real about how you feel. But it’s the truth; when you’re backed into a corner and you are doing everything you need to be doing you just have to keep doing it. You have to be patient and push through.
Mental illness isn’t cured over night, or at all. This is a life long battle that will sometimes be easy and sometimes be difficult. It sucks, but it’s true.
I’m not telling you to embrace the fake and then only do that. But what I am telling you is that times like this make it easy to wallow. They make it easy to feel extra sorry for yourself. Wallowing can be totally necessary, but not now. Save wallowing for when changing out of your sweatpants and going to brunch would actually make you feel better, not for now. Now is time for the biggest gun – faking it.
Because wallowing can spiral into depths that are inescapable if you are already at the end of your wits. Although it may be tempting to feel like this:
It isn’t helpful. But putting one foot in front of another is. Pushing past the dark feelings with all the self care you can muster. I’ve been reading, practicing piano, asking people to hang out that I haven’t talked to in months; I’ve been bringing out the big guns. I’ve been slapping on a smile because I don’t have a choice. If I let this get the best of me then there really is nothing left. I’m not kidding. I’m giving all I have and there is nothing left. There is no speeding up recovery. There is no snapping your fingers and being well.
Sometimes life sucks for healthy people and they do what mentally ill people have to do every single day. They exercise and see friends and maybe even go to therapy.
When life sucks for a mentally ill person –like say in the span of six months they lose their marriage, get fired, and get drugged at a club– it looks a bit different. When you have to do everything healthy people do to get out of a funk every day to keep yourself from not being well, it can be hard to think of what the right things are to do when you’re having a rough go of life itself.
Fake it ’till you make it.
I’m not kidding. Make your To-Do list and do it. Get on the treadmill or elliptical. Take your medications. Dear, sweet, goodness do not stop taking your medications even if you feel as if they are not working. See the doctor, because maybe you need an adjustment. Do what will get you through the day. Take up your time with constructive activities. Pick up old hobbies if your current ones don’t interest you. Do the things you “should” like, even if you’re frowning the whole time.
I went on a hike this week and it was beautiful. But with each step I kept thinking,
“I am not enjoying this. I love hiking. Why do I not love this?”
Because sometimes when you’re staving off all the deadness inside you don’t quite break even. You just get to zero from negative and no further. It takes time to come back from that.
Get to zero and do everything you can to make it from sun up to sun down. The positive will come.
Do not wallow. You cannot afford that right now. It is a slippery slope that leads nowhere good.
So don’t laugh at anyone’s jokes at brunch if you don’t feel like it, but at least go.
Frown the whole hike, but just walk.
Bitch to yourself the entire time you are at the gym, but please exercise.
You don’t have to have a good time, but you do have to have a time. Keep doing the things you know are good for you even if you don’t feel like it. I promise you it is the only thing that will keep you treading water instead of drowning.
You don’t have to swim far, but you do have to keep your head above water. You can be a grumpy gills, but just keep swimming. You cannot afford to stop.
So I’m going to keep faking it. I’m going to be the fake-est bitch here. I’ll put on makeup because it makes me feel better and pretend like I’m having a great time until I realize that I actually am having the best time, because I’m still alive.