Some of you know my name and my face because I shared this blog with you through my personal Facebook account. (I didn’t share with any of my family members, however, so I kindly ask that you NOT share this blog with them if you know any of them.) A few of you have no idea who I am. None of you know the entire person that is me—my past, my thoughts, my dreams, my true self. You may know a bit of my background from my first blog post and my “About” pages, but you don’t know the whole story. You’ll get a better idea of who I am as I continue blogging, but unless you know me personally, you will never know my real name or what I look like.
Because I’m scared.
Fear has slowly overtaken my life, little by little. It’s why I didn’t tell my previous employer that I suffered from mental illnesses. I pretended that I was okay because I needed the job and the insurance, and I didn’t want any preexisting conditions getting in the way of that. It’s why I took sick days for physical sicknesses I didn’t have, exhausted from literally acting like someone else each day so that none of my students or coworkers could see the struggling person inside. Fake it ’til you make it, I thought; that’s what one of my professors had said. But I didn’t make it.
I guess fear is a side effect of losing the trust of those whom you love. Once that’s happened so many times, it’s difficult to let anyone in. For that reason, very few people know enough about me to understand why I struggle each day, and even then I feel unable to talk freely about certain things. So, I guess it’s safe to say that no one really knows the “real” me.
Sometimes I wish my life and struggles with mental illness were easy to explain away, like having a single event impact your life so drastically that you can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that that is why you’ve changed.
That that is why your sleep routine consists of oversleeping, staying up all hours of the night even though you want to sleep, or trying to stay asleep so that you can avoid facing everyone and everything.
That that is why you forget to eat meals or are too tired to cook something for yourself, yet you remain overweight because your go-to foods (when you actually do eat) are unhealthy.
That that is why you haven’t showered for more than four or five days, and even though you feel disgusting and can smell your own body odor, you mentally can’t force yourself to just get up and take a shower.
That that is why you withdraw into yourself for days/weeks/months at a time like a hermit, avoiding phone calls, texts, emails, social media messages, and local events connecting you to the outside world.
That that is why you compulsively pick at your scalp until you create sores that scab over and get picked at again later—a never-ending cycle bound by anxiety.
That that is why your mind suddenly shifts to considering options for suicide, even though you know you really don’t want to take your own life.
No, my struggles stem from a large number of life events and a family history of mental illness. The cause of my pain and fear and anxiety are not so easily defined, and this makes opening up to others a monumental task.
That’s not to say I’ve never tried, though.
Along with therapy (which I’ve been unable to afford for nearly two years now), I’ve talked to some close friends. With those conversations, I usually end up either listening to their issues and giving advice if they need it, or feeling like I can’t fully share my thoughts with them for some reason (due to a lack of time, interest, etc.).
I’ve also mentioned my feelings on social media in the past, but certain members of my family have told me that I need to keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. Now, even when my liberal political views eke out on occasion and inadvertently wreak havoc on my relationships with conservative family members and friends, I continue to shy away from social media when it comes to personal concerns.
In an attempt to anonymously reach out to others, I’ve started this blog.
In the next few posts I make, I’m going to tell you about my life thus far. I need to get everything off of my chest and out of my head. I need someone to just take the time to listen to (or rather, read) my story.
Here’s my first step toward living in less fear…