Sunday, April 22, 2012

Faking it

As we learned from the Dr. Phil Show on Lyme Disease (aired on April 13, 2012), many people are under the impression that Lyme patients aren’t really sick.  That they’re faking it.  (After all, that’s what all the doctors are saying, so why not?)  That’s terrible, not only to leave sick patients untreated, but actually to accuse them of faking their symptoms.  It’s hard to think of a more tragic scenario in medicine than that. 

But let’s talk about another kind of faking it.  Not faking that you are sick, but faking that you aren’t.  What I mean is faking that you’re ok.  Faking that all is well when it’s not.  This also goes for anybody who’s not actually into something and have to appear to be.   That would be most Americans at work. That would be depressed people.  That would be grieving people.  That would be most of us, at probably more moments of our lives than we would care to admit.

As sick or injured people, probably the main reason we fake it is that we don’t want our loved ones to bear any more of the burden than necessary.  They are already forced into flexibility simply by living with us sickies.  We don’t want our loved ones to see us in pain and the last thing we need is to have them worry about us.  So what do we do?  We fake that we’re fine.  “Oh no, I’m ok, how are you?”  “I’m fine, no really.”  I hope it’s safe to say that we make it known when we really need care, like oh-my-gosh-I’m-gonna-die-if-I-don’t-eat-something-right-now, or if we have a serious episode where we need medical attention. 

If you are sick with Lyme and are faking feeling well for the sake of the people who love you, then good.  That means you’re getting better!  You’re no longer so sick that you don’t even care and it doesn’t even occur to you to put on a brave face.  You are no longer so sick that you can’t remember what day it is, even where you are, and you’re not so foggy-brained that you are simply in a daze in any given moment.

But still, why fake it?  What do we gain from pretending to be ok when we aren’t?  I suppose we gain some privacy.  If you don’t appear to have a problem, no one will ask you about it.  I suppose we gain a little respite from whatever we’re dealing with.  We get to be distracted by pretending we’re ok and working on other things instead of what’s really wrong.

I say faking it can be a really useful tool.   And after faking being ok for awhile, it becomes easier to actually feel ok. (Assuming you know that you are faking being ok and that you really aren’t ok.  And are dealing with it instead of just using the fa├žade as a way to avoid dealing with it).  So go ahead.  Fake it ‘til you make it.  

For us sickies or grieving people or others who have big life events happen to them, we have a great reason to fake okayness.   But you ‘healthy’ people, be self-aware enough to ask yourself the tough question ‘Am I faking it day-to-day?  Why?  Am I getting what I truly want?  Do I even know what I truly want?’  I bet you will be at least a little surprised at your inner dialogue.  So give yourself a few minutes.  A little self-analysis can be a far more valuable experience than you might expect.  

All men should strive
to learn before they die
what they are running from, and to, and why.
~James Thurber


  1. I can think of a third kind of faking too, the IDSA faking that this is not a major epidemic right now.

    You made a lot of good points.

  2. My chiropractor, who researches Lyme Disease like crazy, told me today that Lyme is being labeled as the new plague as it is being diagnosed in places where there are no deer ticks. It is believed that mosquitoes are carrying the Lyme Disease as well as co-infections. We must keep fighting and educating! Thank you Hannah for sharing this information.