Fake It Till You Make It

It’s a curiously well-known fact that the act of making yourself smile will cause your body to release endorphins and serotonin, even if you aren’t feeling happy at that moment. Because of this, it’s been speculated that if you smile when you feel stressed you can minimize the toll that stress takes on your body. The official jury is still out on how strong this reaction is and if it’s effected by whether you’re forcing a smile or genuinely smiling (called a Duchenne smile, which involves muscles from around the eyes), but nonetheless studies show that it seems to have an impact.

Shrinks will tell you think of thing, too. If you’re depressed and nothing makes you happy anymore, make yourself do things that used to make you happy until they make you happy again. Pretend you’re still happy. Make yourself do things happy you did. Eventually you’ll feel better again, they say.

It sounds so easy, like when I mine information and develop new interests in things when I meet new people… but it’s not that easy. I sit down to draw and can’t think of anything to draw, or worse, I think of something to draw and ruin it. I try to play a video game, and I can’t even get the game basics right. I go out to a show and end up sipping vodka in the back of the room alone instead of talking to anyone, and end up leaving feeling worse than when I dragged myself out.

Recently, D2 had a friend who was really tail spinning. Long story short, a girl fell for her best friend. He didn’t feel the same. So she was devastated, and he was angry. Her behavior spiraled out to the point she cut herself and contemplated suicide. So D2 went to her house and held her, called her parents, and I guess she’s doing better now. He also planted in her head that she might be bipolar, like he is.

Here’s why that all bothers me.

A, not everyone is a fucking bipolar. D2 is diagnosed. I am diagnosed. It does not mean that everyone who tries to kill themselves is bipolar. It means a lot of people can’t deal with life. For a number of reasons.

2, I, personally, wouldn’t have time for this bullshit… Spiraling out in to overwhelming depression because someone doesn’t love you back romantically is a dumbass reason to be suicidal. It’s mellow dramatic. It’s attention-seeking. It’s stupid. Being angry at someone for having feelings for you is a dumbass reaction. It just invalidates that person and leaves them open to some dumbass emotional response that will distance both you, and turn into some superfluous bullshit.

D, D2 tells me all of this, about people I barely know, who have pretty much replaced me and my function in his life… and meanwhile I’m at home looking at hoarded bottles of Xanax, Temazapam, and antipsychotics wondering if I have to put me to asleep forever.

D2 thinks he knows what suicide looks like. He’s been there, tried that, and recovered. He knows what a spiral looks like. It’s big, it’s in your face, it’s trying to get people to hurt you, and getting blackout drunk, and causing a scene at work. It’s crying in public, and looking distraught, and not being able to keep it together. It’s cutting yourself, and screaming at your friends, and suddenly cancelling all your plans with people, and putting yourself in dangerous situations. Anyone can spot a spiral. Those are the people that end up getting help. Those are the people whose parents worry about them, and whose friends ask if they’re okay, and who end up in a shrink’s office on a script of Prozac. What D2 doesn’t know is what giving up looks like.

Giving up is a process. It’s quiet and gradual. It’s always cancelling plans last minute because you feel “sick,” but promising that you guys will do something together soon. It’s giving up your hobbies because you’re too tired after work, but promising yourself that you’ll get back to them. It’s not taking a shower for a week, because you wake up late every single day and don’t have time. It’s staring at a bottle of vodka in your freezer, and being too depressed to even drink your sorrows away. It’s coming home to people and pets that are super excited to see you, but being too tired to deal with their energy, so you yell at them or close yourself off in your room. It’s buying things you don’t need just because you think it might fill the hole in your life where your friends used to be. It’s eating too much. It’s not eating enough. It’s sitting in your car for an hour after you get home because you know that when you walk through the door your spouse/kids/pets will want attention, and you really should mop and vacuum and clean the bathroom and put your laundry away… and all you’re going to be able to do is sit down and waste the evening until it’s late enough to go to bed… and it all starts over in the morning. It’s the fakers, who still get up, and go to work, and smile when you see them who give up.

So I’m waiting for my dresses: bright colors and happiness. I’m working on perfecting that Duchenne smile: how to smile with your eyes. I stopped buying books so I can read what I have. I’m monitoring what I eat and when, trying to stick to lean meats, veg, and some chocolate. I’m trying not to look into mirrors too long, so I can’t see the cracks in the facade. I’m distracting myself with educational youtube channels and staring at blank paper until I decide I can try again the next day when it’s finally time to go to bed.

I’m faking it… and I don’t know that I feel better at all, but it’s pretty evident that no one is the wiser to what’s going on beneath the surface. No one’s come knocking on my door to check on me. No one blinks an eye when I cancel plans at the last second, no matter how many times in a row it happens. No one thinks twice about my overuse of the 😛 emoji, or how they haven’t seen me in real life in a while.

Sometimes, when I feel real low, I wonder what people would think if I were to kill myself. I mean, all the signs are there. It’s not like I’ve put real effort into hiding it. Just put on that fake smile and talk when you’re supposed to, and everything else can be ignored. Everyone always says they never see it coming when people kill themselves… but it’s because no one is looking, and even if they are, it’s easier to convince themselves that it’s not their business.

It’ lucky, or unlucky depending on how you look at it, that I have so many pets… I’m sad, yes. I think about killing myself a lot, yes. I am overwhelmingly responsible, though. I would never leave my pets, or my mom like that. Especially since my mother would just kill HERself, and we’d both be dead, and ten animals would end up in a shelter without us. It’s just a series of events that wouldn’t help anyone.

Still, sometimes I wish someone would ask if I’m okay and demand to just be there. What a hypocritical statement… it’s not like I bother checking on anyone… but they say suicide is selfish, so maybe that comes with the territory.

Update: I reached out to check on Bird. She’s been sad, and I wish someone would check on me, so I checked on her. And told her a cool Zelda hack about chickens. So… at least I did that.

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