Why I Fake Smile on Bad Days with Borderline Personality
I fake smile on my bad days, but many people never know it. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that I am a woman living with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Some were surprised when I first started writing this blog because I didn't fit their ideas and molds ascribed to women living with this diagnosis (Stigma of BPD). I’m perceived by many as happy, joyful, well put together, composed, and intelligent. (As if these things are mutually exclusive from living with severe mental illness.) And the reality is that on many days, these words do describe me wholeheartedly. The thing about living with BPD (or any serious mental illness) is that the world keeps on spinning even on our darker and tougher days. Just because I’m going through it doesn’t mean my responsibilities and commitments cease. Fake smiles are actually important.
I Fake Smile to Cope, to Be 'Okay'
Sometimes I joke that I missed my career opportunity as an actress. I have mastered the art of putting on a "happy face," even to those I love the most. I have mastered the art of being able to have a complete and total meltdown, head in hands crying and then walk into a room 15 minutes later and light it up as the shiniest, brightest, seemingly most joyful person in the room. This is the power of the fake smile.
Sometimes it’s all an act, an Oscar-worthy performance I might add. The minute I walk out the feelings are there and my show comes to an end. Sometimes it takes more energy than I really have to acknowledge I'm having a bad day. My closest family members, ex-boyfriends, colleagues, and friends have all bought the lie at one point or another. Sometimes I just didn't want to worry them. Sometimes I didn't want them to see me as anything less than perfect (I'll write about BPD and perfectionism soon).
Surviving Painful Borderline Personality Disorder Days with Fake Smiles
So how do I get through? I have a warrior group of women in my life that I don’t have to pretend with. When they ask me how I’m doing, I’m honest. I tell them I’m struggling. I tell them it hurts. I reach out for support and I ask for their prayers, love, and guidance. I belong to spiritual and church communities which I am learning to stay close to. I turn to nourishing people and support, not self-destructive ways of coping.
I think we will always live in a world where fake smiles are necessary. That’s the tough truth of living life with a serious mental illness. It's not always appropriate or socially acceptable to be honest. And that's okay. I’m trying to be gentle with myself while knowing and trusting the spaces where it’s safe to leave my fake smile behind. And if you really get to know me, you just may be one of the lucky ones that see my real and meaningful smile, not my fake one.
Easton, W. (2018, March 11). Why I Fake Smile on Bad Days with Borderline Personality, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2018/03/mastering-my-fake-smile-on-a-bad-day-with-borderline-personality-disorder