As Mental Health Awareness Month has come to a close, I want to share my experience using the popular ‘fake it till you make it’ motto. As someone who experiences mental illness symptoms, being honest with myself about my symptoms is hard, especially when I’ve been doing well and not had a relapse for a while.
I can try to deny I’m enjoying things less, avoiding what I’m most anxious about, isolating, decreasing my healthy habits, and increasing my unhealthy coping skills. At this point, I just want to “push through” - to “fake it till I make it!” Sometimes it “works” in that I don’t enter a crisis. Yet it usually catches up with me, as I probably would have struggled less if I had used some healthy coping skills and reached out for help. Additionally, it usually feels dishonest.
So is ‘faking it till I make it” working for my mental health? I’m not sure; maybe a bit of both! Some of my thoughts:
I say yes because my ‘fake it till I make it’ attitude is part of my desire to not give in to my increased mental health symptoms. If I ignore them and believe they do not have the power to stop me or define me (despite how they are making life harder for me), the symptoms may pass as I continue to do what is important to me without focusing on them too much.
I say no because part of my ‘fake it til I make it’ attitude is truly an effort to pretend that my mental illness symptoms aren’t returning and worsening so I don’t need to act differently. Often I conceal my symptoms and associated anxiety about my current or possible increased challenges with daily activities of life and functioning.
It seems to me that we often find, over time, what kinds of support we need. At the same time, we may also discover that those who love us most may know parts of our patterns and needs that we haven’t noticed yet. Personally, I may need multiple nudges to receive support when my symptoms are the strongest and most frequent; for this reason, ‘faking it till I make it,’ especially when it means not telling anyone I am going through a hard time, poses a danger.
Some helpful activities for me when experiencing increased symptoms:
Getting outside for a change of scenery
Listening to my favorite music
Therapy or a support group
Physical activity; like swimming or a walk outside
Not automatically saying “I’m good” when someone I trust asks
Respond with your own experiences and thoughts on our social media posts!
Does ‘faking it till you make it’ help with any increased symptoms?
What things do you find helpful when managing increased symptoms?
Those who support/love those those who experience mental illness symptoms,
what are your thoughts?
NAMI KDK offers free support groups for individuals who experience mental illness symptoms and free support groups for those who love them. We also provide free community presentations in schools and other settings in addition to programming specifically for the Latinx and BIPOC communities. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Programs page to learn about our programming. For additional information, contact us at email@example.com.
Derek H. Sire (they/them)
NAMI KDK Intern
If you are in crisis, call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-723-8255 or text NAMI to 741741 for 24/7 crisis support. If you are facing challenges related to substance use or mental health, you may call the Illinois Warm Line at 866-359-7953. Visiting this NAMI page as well as contacting the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-6265 or firstname.lastname@example.org will connect you to information related to numerous needs and concerns.