It was a most intriguing conversation among friends, and at the heart of it, an equally intriguing question – can you pretend yourself better?
We were talking about it in the context of depression.
One friend mentioned that to a certain extent she could fool herself into feeling better than she really is.
I know you’re probably thinking it sounds crazy but after some careful thought I agreed with her.
Initially, I’ll admit I couldn’t give an outright answer for myself but as I thought about it more and how I live everyday and relate to people, I realised the answer is yes. Yes, you can pretend yourself better. In a way.
How it works
Sometime last week, I was at my work desk when a regular visitor greeted me, gave me the most engaging smile and then told me “you always look so happy.”
That was a surprise.
Lately my mood hasn’t been so fantastic if you know what I mean but I always try to keep it friendly, and be caring and kind towards people generally.
I hadn’t realised that people perceive me as happy, but what I did notice was that on my down days when I smile at people (or try to share something good with them), even if I have to make an effort to do so initially, despite my low mood, it eventually becomes less of an effort, then before I know it, my down day isn’t so bad.
Perhaps it’s a distraction. It must be. But it must be a really good distraction because when I smile with people, and they smile back, no matter how crappy I feel, I start to feel the energies behind the smile. The warmth… and something all… err… fuzzy. Ish.
When we give
I might have been depressed and anxious, or even in pain thanks to dreadful fibromyalgia. Somehow, despite my suffering, when I focus on smiling with people (or giving to the poor, or helping a stranger) it doesn’t feel so bad at the time. Maybe it is pretending I feel better or ignoring my illness, I don’t know for sure.
All I know is, I think when I smile outwardly, eventually it stirs something in me, causing an effect internally.
I start smiling on the inside too, despite whatever physical pain, debilitating exhaustion, sleepiness, emotional upheaval etcetera that I am living through at the time.
It starts out as pretending yourself better for the sake of keeping up appearances, getting through the day or coping. Then, NO it doesn’t actually take the pain away. But sharing the genuine smiles or whatever else it is you give to the world at the time, makes the pain and suffering just a little more bearable.
And it is that, which gives one the feeling of being a little better than one really is.
Gentle Hugs 🙂
4 Replies to “Pretending Yourself Better”
If its depression I doubt very much one can pretend oneself better….masking and hiding it from others well thats different…I do that all the time but inside I am screaming…I can try and not think about it…but it is still there and yes sometimes one can help it make life more bearable on a daily basis but the pain always comes back to remind you!!! I have learnt to cope with it…and try to find ways of occupying myself on days when I feel low…singing often helps me…and painting…when my hands dont hurt that is!!! I have had to lean to live with different levels of pain and to try and mask this from everyone because I think the got fed up of me keep saying I was in pain…! The point being that a person could look perfectly ok on the outside but inside they are in pain or feeling so depressed…and pain is debilitating so is there any wonder a person suffering froma a chronic condition such as Fibromyaligai and such like they get depressed! I told a pyschiatrist the same thing when I was first diagnosed that I have Fibromyalgia my then GP decided to send me to a pyschiatrist as he thought it was all in my mind and not real!!! I have since then learnt how to deal with my Fibromyalgia and realised that if they cant help me it was a case of self help…!
Hey Beverley, I know what you mean. Most days I am able to supress my depression but it’s always lingering in the background waiting to rare its head at a trigger. Some days it’s easier to get by but other days it’s really tough. I just think that little things like smiling with others helps me to stay afloat when I’m struggling. But I know it is different for everyone. And yes there have been studies that show people with long term chronic illnesses are among those more vulnerable of suffering from depression. We just have to take it easy. It’s true, alot of it is self help and self discovery as we travel the road. But it does help to have others we can relate to. Gentle hugs xx
I like your post. I agree that you can pretend yourself better, and I have found that most of the time others have no clue that there is pain or severe fatigue. I have found that just plugging on when I must, taking time for myself and pacing myself when I can, and doing those things that refresh me mentally and spiritually have made all the difference in the world. That said, I was working a 50-hour-a-week job and found I could no longer do that. Admitting to my boss that I have fibromyalgia and could no longer work that many hours a week allowed me the freedom within myself to leave. I now work two part time jobs, with time to pace myself and time to rest.
Hi there! thanks so much for your feedback 🙂
I agree – people always say I never look exhausted when I am all the time, and I think this is one reason fibromyalgia is called an invisible illness.
I am really happy you were able to give up that 50 hour week job. I used to push my body so much when I worked as a full time journalist, sometimes doing 12-14 hour days. I just couldn’t admit that I couldn’t keep up with it physically, and there was no way I could smile or take the time to share a good moment with someone because I had to focus so hard on just going so I wouldn’t collapse or fall asleep. Working is generally challenging but at least now I’ve also found a job where I can pace myself, to make it work with my health. Mentally and emotionally, I am in a better place too and I have the room to pretend myself better if I’m not doing well.
Have a great week! gentle hugs 🙂 x