anxiety · Bipolar Disorder · Depression · mental health

Hiding in Plain Sight

When my children were little we used to play hide and seek. They would back up into a corner and hide their eyes. “I can see you!” I tell them. “No you can’t. I can’t see you!” Such simple thinking. If only it was that simple. The thing is, unless you come to my house and see me sitting in my pajamas, hair pulled up and no makeup, you usually won’t see my pain. I hide it. I hide it behind my bright smile and cute accessories. I had a teacher once tell me, “fake it till you make it.” This is a motto I have come to adopt. Like most people, I don’t like to burden anyone with my problems. My husband, children, and close friends can usually pick up on small queues that will alert them to my disability. They may see it on my very expressive face. I may be on the quiet side (I’m not a quiet person.) I may be irritable, or I may cancel plans, usually at the last minute. I have a lot of pride and unless I am going to run a fast errand to Walmart, where wearing pajamas is acceptable, I will be dressed, hair done, and make-up on. This usually creates the need of some kind of explanation when I first meet people and to friends who haven’t known me that long. The friends that haven’t seen the depressed me. When you see someone and they are always put together, it’s hard to imagine them not. When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I’m a stay at home mom. That is true, but not entirely true. I’m not ashamed, but I don’t tell people I am on disability right away. People don’t understand, especially people who think that just “anyone” can get disability. I don’t look disabled. The majority of the time, I don’t act disabled. That is the beauty of an invisible illness. I may not look sick. But no one sees the anxiety eating up my insides when I first meet you. Or the epinephrine that runs through my veins every time I walk in a crowd. You don’t know that I spend 1/2 my nights lying awake at 3 am because I am hypomanic. I can’t change the way people see me.  All I can do is look at everyone, whether they are dressed in their pajamas anywhere other than Walmart or dressed to the nines and know that everyone has a story. They might be hiding it, just like me.


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