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The Impostor

You've probably heard of "impostor syndrome" - defined by Wikipedia as "a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud." That's been the manifestation of my depression lately. That and wanting to sleep all the time.

Everybody gets a little "impostor syndrome". I used to feel it when I was working. How could they let me pretend to be a doctor? I don't know what I'm doing? But, really, I did have the 12 years of higher education and diplomas to prove that I knew what I was up to. And, after a while, even I started to believe that I could manage the medicine thing.

Right now, I'm feeling kind of like an impostor of a sick person. Whenever my head doesn't feel like it's going to pop off my head, I feel guilty that I'm not working and feel like I'm an "impostor" of a disabled person. This, despite plenty of evidence in my headache journals that I live in lots of pain and that, when I'm not in pain, my medications make my thinking fuzzy.

But, I still have this horrible feeling that people look at me like I'm not really sick and wonder why I'm not working. And I feel bad that I'm so isolated and have so few friends because I have so many headache days. So, why do I feel like a fraud?

I don't think I'm the only person with chronic illness who feels guilty about being sick. I suspect it's worse with things like migraine and fibromyalgia because there aren't lab tests or XRays to corroborate our symptoms. Nonetheless, our society values health, and those of us who are without it often feel like it's our own fault.

And my "impostor syndrome" has been making my depression worse - along with the fact that we're adjusting medications. Actually, I think the two are playing on each other. I hope that writing all this down will help declutter my brain a bit and help me get into a better place. But, the last week or so has seen me spend days sleeping on the sofa for no good reason. I haven't gotten to teary or completely amotivational yet, but I'd like to stop this slide before we get there. To that end, I see my doctor on Tuesday, I'm trying to get some exercise, and I'm journaling.

I hate not working. I'm still studying in the hopes that I might one day be able to go back to work. But, right now, I am legitimately not able to work because of my chronic migraine. I keep track of my headaches so I can tell myself that whenever the depression and impostor syndrome comes back over me.

Mental health can require hard work sometimes. I'm in one of those places right now.


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