I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. In the scheme of things not exactly news considering the disease I struggle with. Heck, I have more doctor’s appointments then most cancer patients. I know my doctor’s intimately, I usually know what they are going to ask and for most of them exactly what we are going to talk about before I even walk in to the door.
But I noticed something this morning; the morning of (or possibly the day before) I play a little game with myself. I sit myself inside the doctor’s office and I imagine the doctors are asking me questions. And I answer them. This wouldn’t be incredible except for one major difference, I don’t answer the doctor in my imagination in any way that could be recognized to the actual answer I give them. In other words, in my head I tend to answer the truth, but in the real world that is my life I would never answer in a way that could possibly make my disease more pronounced.
I know myself well enough that I have a great distrust of telling anyone about my disease. My coworkers don’t know, many of my friends don’t know, heck, I don’t even talk about it to my close love ones; my children certainly don’t know. But there are doctors in this world that know about my disease and I can’t even bring myself enough to trust them with the true details of my life. And before you announce that I need to be able to trust my doctors, know this…I don’t trust anyone. So changing doctors isn’t going to change my answers.
I am not lying to my doctors, and when I need something different or there is a problem I am pretty good of talking about that problem in a way that no one gets alarmed. If I need new meds, I don’t have a problem stating that I am having issues with the ones that I am on, but I never, ever go into detail on why. I keep the struggles, the paths of truth, and the darkness deep inside myself. The cool thing about the meds is that sometimes, for very brief moments, I can convince myself that I am actually okay. It’s not true, and usually when reality hits it is a deeper cut because I denied myself the truth…but that is for another day.
But why can’t I just tell someone the full truth. Why can’t I tell a doctor the truth? Because the truth is I am terrified of that dark hole that a doctor can legally, and quickly put me into. Many of you might not know about the hole, and while I could possibly send you some movies or book quotes, it won’t truly describe the place I am talking about.
My biggest fear has institutional colored walls, bars on the windows and the residents of the building wear cotton nightgowns even during daylight. Meals, exercise, daylight, night, is all on a schedule not determined by my own needs but what someone else has determined are my needs. Food is nutritious, if not very satisfying; and cravings are ignored for the good of the whole. Sunlight only appears on a schedule, and the freedom of open doors is closed. A mental hospital for me is a very lonely and very scary place. It is a place I have to retreat to when no one else wants to deal with me, when I am so alone in the world that people have to schedule when they can talk to me. I may be sick, but I am not so disfigured that being forced to accept my own company is preferable to the company of my own will.
So I lie to the doctors. I sugarcoat the answers so that they and everyone else listening never learn the truth. I say things are fine, when I really want to say something like this: It has been another roller coaster of a day. The nights are getting colder which gives me peace because I recognize the loneliness of winter. The days are scary, frightening, because I have to pretend to be okay everyday. I am not allowed a breakdown, or even a safe resting place, because the demons may over take all that I hold dear. I miss the quiet, I miss solitude, I miss finding my own way through this earth. I hate working because I have to be perfect, I hate running errands when there are so many people around. I want to be left alone, not miserable, but not responsible for all this world has given me. I just want a safe place to land, a safe place to lay my head and allow all that is coursing through my veins to run as free as those mustang along the grasses. And I don’t need that place to be permanent, but a nice place I can go to when I so desperately need it.
The truth is that I don’t trust anyone with the truth. The truth is that this disease is lonely and sometimes unforgiving. The truth is that a sugar-coated truth is better than a lie. And the truth is this is the way I survive. By keeping all that is my own truth deeply hidden within my own soul.