Feigning wellness

OKI’ll be straight with all of you. I haven’t felt well at all lately, but I’m only mentioning this because I feel that I can no longer feign wellness. My last post was a clear indication that I can no longer keep up the front. Quitting the “front” is a huge relief and writing about this is cathartic.

I know that feigning wellness is not solely practiced by people suffering from mental illness. I think many people (or even most people) out there have covered up their true feelings at times, cloaked behind a false smile, especially in front of others. Maybe you’re having physical discomfort, like headaches or stomach distress. Maybe it’s just stress that’s getting to you. You’re at work or at the store and see someone you know and they say “Hi Jack. How are you doing?” and in response you say (automatically), “Good, and you?” And they either don’t respond to your follow-up question, or respond in kind.

I can’t speak for people in other countries, but I know that in the U.S. it is almost expected that you say you’re “Fine”. No matter what. Saying otherwise is often met with silence, or a quick “I’m sorry to hear that,” and a swift move on.

Keep your chin upHow about the people you are closest to. Do you sometimes feign wellness with them, too? Maybe your spouse dislikes negativity. Or you don’t want to worry or shock your kids, or parents. But if you do speak the truth, maybe sometimes you get sympathy and offers for help to relieve your discomfort. Other times do you hear this one? “Well, Jack, keep your chin up.”

Grrrrrrrrrrrr! I’m sorry, but growing up I must have heard “Keep your chin up” about 1,000 times. Boo-hooing, depressive talk, anxious talk, frustration, and other similar feelings were discouraged; sometimes went in one ear and out the other, other times met with anger, oddly enough. No, it was better to keep these feelings to myself and instead, process the pain in my brain, or in the form of teeth grinding, fists tightening in my stomach, or even the occasional scream into the pillow.

I'm not OKThe fact of the matter is that most people really don’t want to hear negativity. I’m writing that I wish I could freely express myself at all times, but I know I can’t always. I’ve got to hire a therapist and/or a psychiatrist to unload this stuff on. Yeh, my spouse will hear it, but my fear is that too much of this negative honesty will either push him away or (more in my husband’s case) make him feel depressed or frustrated, too. It can be contagious.

My last blog post was a clear “dump” of my depressive feelings. I was sort of relieved that some people responded with understanding. I know that when I (and others) feel unwell it does help a little to get sympathy. I also know that soliciting too much sympathy over too long of a time gets old, too. Though some sicknesses are so severe that there is just no way of feigning wellness, others that fluctuate in severity sort of do call for breaks in expressed misery.

The catchphrase “Fake it ‘til you make it” is also pretty commonly voiced to people suffering from various illnesses or discomforts. Unlike “Keeping your chin up”, I have even heard therapists recommending this strategy for recovery. Maybe they don’t always say the catchphrase exactly, but in a roundabout way. Mine has said for me to push myself to do things and then rate my satisfaction with mastery at the end. Sometimes I do get some satisfaction; sometimes I feel the same or worse. Funny, nine days ago I wrote a blog post called “When you push yourself to do what you don’t want to do…you’re usually glad you did, after the fact.” I certainly felt it worked then. Actually, I think it is a better strategy, in general, than allowing yourself to waste away or drown in self-pity.

Any thoughts on any of this? Do you find yourself feigning wellness a lot?Save


32 thoughts on “Feigning wellness

  1. lindaluna583 June 28, 2017 / 3:59 pm

    Thank you for deciding this time not to feign wellness. “When you push yourself to do what you don’t want to do…you’re usually glad you did, after the fact.” Nine days ago I didn’t need that, but today I do. There’s a pretty big task in front of me for this afternoon, and frankly, I don’t want to do it, but I made a promise and intend to keep it. I just hope I’m glad I did when it’s all said and done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 28, 2017 / 4:06 pm

      Hi lindaluna. I hope your task goes well in the end and you feel relief from achieving it. Thank you for commenting on my post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nel June 28, 2017 / 4:29 pm

    I used to feign wellness because I felt it came with my job description. I never feign wellness at home though to my husband’s frustration when he’s the cause, lol. Excuse my french, but if I’m feeling shitty that day and someone asks me how I’m doing, I will say shitty and they may get more of an earful on why that is but I feel better after I say it. I’m definitely not good at keeping my feelings in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 28, 2017 / 4:44 pm

      I know that it can be just as well that you say exactly how you feel, but I imagine you don’t feel really bad for long periods of time. People with long-lasting illnesses can wear on others. Sad, but true. I know I’ve worn on people close to me. If not frustrated, then passed on some of the illness itself. [My husband can be prone to depression, too.]

      So many people with mental illness have high divorce rates because spouses can’t take long-term illness. Of course some of the best spouses stick with you long-term. They are the treasures and the most tolerant. I’ve even seen spouses of people with illnesses like cancer “move on” or commit adultery. That sounds cruel, I know. It’s really not crueler than doing the same to a person with mental illness. It does make one try to sometimes conceal the illness or suffering to a degree. Don’t we all put on a “happy face” sometimes. Painful.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nel June 28, 2017 / 4:49 pm

        So is the deeper premise of this post is because you’re worried about losing your husband? You’re right that people with long lasting illnesses can wear on others but that’s the beauty of making friends. There is always someone you’ll find who won’t let your deep depression phases wear on them in the least cause it’s only one part of you. You can call me naive if you want but since I started reading your posts, they haven’t worn on me at all. Maybe remember that there are people like me out there who you don’t have to feign wellness for and are quite adaptive.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 28, 2017 / 5:00 pm

        Hi Nel. I’m not worried about losing my husband. He and I are attached at the hip in many ways. He understand depression all too well. He is very patient and tolerant. But I know a lot of people with bipolar disorder that do lose their spouses because of their illnesses. The divorce rate for them is higher than average.

        As for friends, you must have the greatest friends possible. I know I have pushed a number of friends (and potential friends) away.

        You are a very dear person and I am so lucky that we have found each other through the blogs. You do have to say, though, that my posts and comments are not always depressing? You see that I do sometimes feign wellness, but at the same time I’m not ALWAYS sick, either. The recent suicide of my nephew has taken a huge toll on me. I’ve tried to write some neutral or uplifting posts, but more have been sad than in the past. I will get out of it eventually, though.


      • Nel June 28, 2017 / 5:39 pm

        I see. I guess I misinterpreted the first part as you meant people and their spouses in general. I’m glad you two are joined at the hip 😊
        I wouldn’t say I have the greatest friends in the world. I’m a very adaptable and tolerable person so I think it ultimately works in my favor when it comes to friendships. If I’m not trying to help, I’m trying to make you laugh or just talking in general because if you haven’t noticed already, I looove to talk.
        I’m really sorry about your nephew. I don’t think your posts are depressing at all. If anything they’re educational and enlightening. I’ve seen some depressing posts. Yours don’t fit the bill, sorry, haha

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 28, 2017 / 7:32 pm

        I usually like to talk, too. Or at least lately, if I don’t want to talk, I at least write. Anyway, I’m sure if I ever met you we’d have enjoyable conversation 🙂

        I have needed to vent a bit about my grief and mental illness, but as I wrote in my 100th post, I do want to write about other things. I’m sure in a bit I’ll be back to my old self. Thanks for always taking an interest in my blog. I really liked your post today.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nel June 28, 2017 / 8:39 pm

        We would probably talk for hours, haha. I hope one day that happens because I do consider you a friend and I definitely look forward to your posts every day! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nel June 28, 2017 / 9:13 pm

        Right back atcha 🤗

        Liked by 1 person

  3. NaPropasti June 28, 2017 / 5:44 pm

    I hear you, flying Birdie. I can’t or rather don’t have to feign wellness. People always assume I’m an ocean of cool calmness because I guess I look that. Little do they know that deep inside it’s a beehive of catastrophic thoughts, and a maelstrom of misfiring synapses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 28, 2017 / 7:34 pm

      I’m so sorry you have a beehive of catastrophic thoughts. Do you have anything (or anyone) that makes your thoughts happy on occasion?

      I love your “maelstrom of misfiring synapses”! I’ve certainly been the same in the past. Putting it that way makes it sound almost sophisticated.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hussein Allam June 28, 2017 / 8:49 pm

    So amazing are these words, “When you push yourself to do what you don’t want to do…you’re usually glad you did, after the fact.” it’s inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 28, 2017 / 9:15 pm

      Thank you so much, Hussein Allam. You know, I very much appreciate your regular support, and find your blog inspiring, too. I’m going to check out your recent post(s) right now. I think you usually post before I wake up in the morning.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hussein Allam June 28, 2017 / 9:29 pm

    I am so glad to know that, it’s really highly appreciated, and thank you for encouraging me to do my best in writing as usual, as you are one among of my respective follows who appreciate my works towards writing. I believe that there is a big difference in timing between Jordan and US and it’s about 14 hours, when it’s morning here, it becomes night in your country, I didn’t check this information via Google, but my uncle’s son who were born there told my that, as they are American citizens. They live in NYC Manhattan. Again thank you for kind words, updownflight!🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 28, 2017 / 9:34 pm

      It’s great when bloggers find each other’s blogs and mutually benefit in various ways. I’m very thankful that we found each others’ blogs.

      If it’s 14 hours difference, it must be early in the morning for you. Soon I’ll get up and make dinner. Tonight we’re having crab cakes and baked fish, potato salad, and green salad with beets. What are you having for breakfast?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hussein Allam June 28, 2017 / 9:51 pm

        I am also so grateful to discover your blog too☺️. I have not decided yet what to eat, as I am always in confusion what to eat, anyway , I think it’s too early for having breakfast now it’s 12:47 am in our country. But your dinner is fantastic and delicious, what I really green salad and baked fish, btw fish is my favorite one, love eating, it’s irresistible, no problems if it becomes like routines when eating it. Thank you for your wonderful reply, up downright!☺️

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 28, 2017 / 10:04 pm

        Whoops! I miscalculated your time. I hope you get some more sleep.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hussein Allam June 28, 2017 / 10:08 pm

        Hhhhhh, that’s fine, I am on school vacation now, as summer vacation started in the country.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hussein Allam June 28, 2017 / 10:26 pm

        Thank you so much, and have a sweet dreams, updownflight!🙂


  6. Jolene June 28, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    I am very much in agreement with you! I hate the perfunctory Q&A of how are you? / I’m fine! Why ask if you don’t want to know the truth. Why ask if you can’t even face up to the truth. It’s cruel for the responder to have to feign wellness. And yet if I replied to the negative it is me that appears unprofessional or unfriendly. I’m sick and tired of all the acting that goes on in this world. It’s mentally draining. Thanks for a breath of fresh air from you. Hope to hear your thoughts on my space, you offer admirable insights. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 28, 2017 / 10:22 pm

      Thanks, Jolene. Yes, I also wish there wouldn’t be the need for feigned wellness.

      I’ll look at your blog right now. I’m sorry if I haven’t seen your posts lately. I’m trying to read others’ during times of the day I can, but it has been hard since my depression/grieving really ramped up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jolene June 29, 2017 / 9:20 am

        Thank you! I really hope you are surrounded by family and friends during this difficult period…

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Joanna Maguire June 29, 2017 / 9:03 am

    Oh hun, I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling at the moment – wish I could give you a real hug, instead a virtual one will have to do. It is so difficult to know when to share and when to get it quiet, I don’t really share with many people as I have been let down in the past by people’s reactions. I am trying to be more honest nowadays though with the attitude that if people have trouble handling it, that is not my problem. People need to get better at hearing that people aren’t okay and at sharing feelings. It is really bad here in the UK – stiff upper lip and all that! You are going through quite a tough time at the moment – be gentle with yourself and let yourself struggle, it is only human nature given what you have gone through recently and with your bipolar 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 29, 2017 / 9:29 am

      Hi Joanna. Thank you for your kind reply. Actually, just yesterday I, too, received a response to one of my posts that was surprising. I really can’t understand why they responded as they did, but I agree with you that people should get a little more used to hearing the truth.


  8. granonine September 11, 2017 / 5:40 pm

    I’m a therapist. One of the things I do that I believe is important is to validate my clients’ condition, assuring them that it’s not “crazy” but an experience of the human condition. We throw “crazy” around way too often, and usually with no idea of what we’re saying. Pain is pain, and it needs to be treated just as much if it’s emotional as if it’s physical. Thanks so much for your honesty in this post.


  9. Confessings of A Failed Writer October 14, 2017 / 1:40 am

    It takes courage to show vulnerability. The world often tells us that vulnerabilities are best left tucked way in a a corner. You’ve made a good decision to no longer feign wellness – one’s journey to true wellness begins with a recognition and acknowledgement of how unwell one is .
    I enjoyed your writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 14, 2017 / 1:42 pm

      Thank you! I know I have made progress in terms of being open about my moods, but do still feel pressure from some not to.


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