“I’m Okay”: The Lie We All Tell

I had to lie to someone. Granted, it was a complete stranger. It might even be what some would consider a trivial, excusable “white lie.” But it’s still eating me up inside, although not as much as the reason I told the lie.

Last week, I told an interviewer that I could not make it because of a “family emergency.” Of course, this emergency was completely fabricated in order to cover up the real story: that I was sinking back into depression.

How could I tell someone who had been about to interview me that I panicked minutes before the interview when I couldn’t find a parking space, and completely broke down, driving home in tears ten minutes after the interview was supposed to start? But even more than that, how could I tell myself that I was not getting better, as I had thought? That I was not ready or able to do something out in the world again? That I was, in fact, not okay?

In reality, the lie of being okay is one that people living with mental illness have to tell all the time. We don’t just say it in words. We say it in expressions, and in actions. We say it by not saying anything, and pretending that everything is fine. We put a mask over our faces and act like nothing is wrong.

And it’s not just about fooling other people, so they don’t worry about us. Sometimes, it’s about tricking ourselves. Because we don’t want to admit that we’re not okay. We don’t want to accept it.

Particularly with Bipolar Disorder, you can be okay one day, and in crisis the next. Even from one minute to the next. And every time the cycle repeats, it’s like being thrown to the ground and held down. No, it says, you’re not allowed to be okay today. Maybe tomorrow. But you never know.


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