Some may say I live my life in a cocoon, and if you’re going to measure by minutes spent alone or any other such metric, indeed this would probably be the proper conclusion. However, I am not alone always. I interact with the world and the people in it. I have to. This is an issue.
I have a mental illness. While we’re all unique in our own ways (yeah, I just said that)… the thing that separates me from others is an all-encompassing brokenness. That is to say—that which is broken in me is the person I truly am. However, it can’t be the person I show myself as. I suppose in some universe this would work out somehow, but not ours, not here. If I am to “be myself1” I am to put on a display that pushes most people away. Because I am an illness.
That is the key part of the whole situation here. When one has a physical illness, it rarely absorbs into who they are. Of course, anything about anyone is part of their “being.” But their minds are almost always separate from spinal injuries, cancer, broken bones, lupus, and the like.
I, however, am my illness. My OCD and other mental disorders are what you are interacting with when you are interacting with me.
So I have mechanisms I use so this isn’t the only plane onto which I communicate with people. That’s a fancy way of saying I make crap up. Ok, it is really somewhere in-between those two extremes of description.
I wish to control the narrative about myself. I have to. I cannot be consumed nearly all day with my mental disorders while alone, and then consume those same disorders with others. Not only would that drain what little energy I have for interacting with others, it would… well… let’s just say there remains a stigma that I wish not to have to confront all the time.
In short, I paint a picture of who I am that differs from group to group. To close friends, I am fully honest. They know what you know. I am fully honest on this site because I choose to remain anonymous. However, these are not—as you can imagine—the only groups of people I need to interact with. I’ll go a step further and note that the other groups of people I need to interact with are in my life to help me selfishly achieve things like making more money and being seen as a model business person for all the obvious reasons.
Guess what, I lie to them.
I lie to them often.
To them, I do not have a mental disorder of any sort. I don’t really even want to know what would happen if they tried to understand it. I’ve written before about how OCD, in particular, makes for a good employee. But I wrote about that, I’m not about to openly experiment with it in the world of business where any flaw is exploited for the betterment of the other party2.
Here’s where I get into trouble. I’ve noted groupings where I am fully honest with people and groupings where I am not. When these groups meet (it could just be one friend at a gathering of people I do business with)… I don’t control the narrative. I am not a controlling person. I am not an asshole. My one wish is that others close to me, that know the honest me, would also know when I can’t be honest. I can’t, you see. It is a choice I make so I can survive in a world that relies on money and all sorts of not-having-mental-disorders.
This can’t be said enough, however: I don’t like to directly manipulate a means to an end. The parts these people see, when I paint the picture on purpose—is me. It is just not fully me. I am a bright person. The money I bring in is well on par with what I should be bringing in. Actually, it is often less—because I make sacrifices for potential future business events. I don’t deceive in order to push more money into my pocket. I merely put forward the things about me that are not part of my mental illness to those who I interact with on a level that involves money.
Oh, but once that is breached—I go numb. It has happened. I have had my OCD mentioned to the wrong people. I have had people mention my struggles with mental illness making me unable to work for stretches of time. It is hell to be put into that situation. The explaining, the potential loss, all bad!
You see, the truth is anything hurt temporarily by my mental illness I work my ass off to make up for. That is hard to explain. It sounds risky. But it is how I have to live my life if I’m not to end up homeless3.
I just need to paint a picture of me for certain people. And I don’t feel bad about it. Because why do I have to do this? It is all on these certain people. Now if I can just get everyone close to me on board with this… then all is ok.