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Fake It Till You Make It

Tiny claws scrape at my shoulder and a little meow echoes in my ear. I open my eyes and reach for my phone. 7am. I’ve been in bed for 9 hours. Rhapsody meows again begging for her morning canned food but every cell in my body is begging me to stay in bed and ignore her and the entire day. My head aches and the sadness of 2020 and life in general threatens to wash over me again. I sit up anyway. Rhapsody butts up against me to get her morning cuddles that she only will take before breakfast. No cuddles after breakfast. Strange cat. I pull on a pair of jeans and find a clean shirt from the closet before I push Rhapsody off the bed so I can spread the sheets up over the bed. I feel like staying in bed and I’m on disability for chronic migraine, so I could. I don’t have a job to go to. No one would notice except the cats. Well, my husband would come home and get curious about my staying in bed all day. But, really, I have a good eight hours in which I can lie around and give in to the depression and headache. But I don’t. I’m not always a fan of the “Fake It Till You Make It” philosophy. I believe in being real and presenting our authentic selves to the world. In the case of depression and chronic migraine, though, I’ve found that giving in to short term desires aren’t always helpful. There are times when pretending to not have mental illness and migraine can be useful. Depression tells me that I should stay in bed and ignore the world, especially if I have a migraine hangover. And, really, I’m on disability for chronic migraine, so nobody except the cats would know if I spent the day curled up with my phone under the quilt. Instead, I get out of bed, get dressed, and keep some kind of schedule. I may feel like I’m faking it, but later in the day, I usually find that I feel better than if I had given into the fatigue and stayed in bed all day. After I’m up and moving, I get something to eat, generally something low in carbohydrates. My body tells me that it wants all carbs, all processed food, all the time. Instead, I limit my carbs because I know that I’ll feel better in the long-term. My low-carb diet hasn’t cured my depression or chronic migraine, but it helps me feel a bit better. Eating well is one of my “Fake It Till You Make It” strategies. I try to keep my kitchen and living room clean and organized because it helps my brain to feel less stressed. It’s another way that I use “Fake It Till You Make It”. Sure, it requires some energy on the front end that’s hard to come by, but I find that it’s worth it. Since I tend to be a night owl, I often clean the kitchen before bed. “Fake It Till You Make It” can help with some aspects of mental illness and chronic migraine, but if you are feeling like you are going to hurt yourself or someone else, get professional help immediately. And, this strategy is something I use to help me get through my days — it’s not a life philosophy. I continue to take my medications, keep up with my spiritual life, and do my meditation. Mental illness and chronic migraine are real. Let’s not pretend that they aren’t. I still present an authentic face to the world and I’m honest about my struggles with mental illness and chronic migraine. But, “Fake It Till You Make It” is one strategy that helps me get through my days. What do you think? ​Catherine

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