People who struggle with depression and anxiety often worry that they are “faking it”. Google the question, and you will see over 490,000 results. If you are plagued with these doubts, it is time to let them go. Notice the accusatory tone you are taking with yourself. “Am I ‘faking it’”? You are essentially calling yourself a fraud. That is a classic symptom of depression, and here’s why it happens:
- The Voice in Your Head. Depression distorts your thinking and makes you believe that you are fundamentally flawed. Your brain turns against you and distorts, exaggerates, and lies with impunity. Making you wonder if you are faking your illness is an easy way to send you into a tailspin of confusion and self-recrimination that it will happily use. It will always tell you that your depression and anxiety are your own fault. It’s like an abusive spouse saying it’s your fault he hit you.
- The Voices of Society. Even after all of the exposure depression has gotten over the past few years, people who have not experienced it still find it difficult to understand and relate to. Most of the time, even when in a major episode, you still appear to be functioning. You may do less than usual; you may sleep more than usual; you may avoid people so they won’t see, but most people will not notice, particularly if you are purposely hiding it. Often, when you finally tell people you are depressed, they are shocked. They try to convince you that you’re just sad or down, that everyone has days like that and you will get over it. Your mind will happily jump in to tell you that they are right and that you’re just weak or exaggerating or all-out lying.
- Depression is not All or Nothing. Even during a major depressive episode, you can still have moments of clarity. When that happens, it can make you think that you made it all up. You think you can’t really be ill if you can feel completely normal, however fleeting. But that really is the nature of it.
I cannot say that no one has ever faked a mental illness, but if you were faking, you would not ruminate over the question. You would know because it would have been a deliberate act. Worrying about whether you are is a pretty common symptom of the illness. Take that worry off your plate and give yourself time and space to heal.
Originally published at tameyourbrain.org