Why is that even though everyone knows what you are going through, you still have to pretend to be fine? This is the dilemma I faced when my family and I decided to fly to the States to visit my extended family for a week. Initially, it seemed like it would be a lovely time to catch-up with family I don’t regularly see. However, the week turned out to be a lot more stressful then I imagined.
Somehow I thought that once I told everyone about my anxiety and depression, that I would be home free. That I would not have to create endless lies about why I didn’t show up to certain events. That I could completely be myself all of the time. Of course, like many things in life, solving one problem will often create new ones. For sure, telling my extended family about my mental illness was very liberating. Moreover, I felt very proud of myself for being able to talk openly about my vulnerabilities.
What I didn’t account for is that telling someone that you have mental illness is very different from having them interact with you in their life. They had never seen me when I had a meltdown. They had never seen me when I start feeling overwhelmed. They only knew of my diagnosis. They had never experienced the nitty-gritty details of living with someone who had anxiety. That was what began to stress me out. How would they react? Could they really handle seeing me like that? And like that, I started trying desperately to “pretend I was fine.”