Faking it

Illustration by Philip Kuhns

It was 3 a.m., and I was dancing with the devil.

Clenching a sharp object in my hand, I tossed and turned under the sheets. It was one night out of hundreds.

I typed out yet another draft of a suicide letter on my cell phone, hitting backspace over and over because I couldn’t decide on my dying words.

Finally, I said to myself, “What’s one more day?”

I woke up the next morning with a pillow stiff from dried tears. I plastered a smile on my face, fumbled into a blue cap and gown and graduated high school.

Not only did I walk across the stage to receive my diploma, but I gave one heck of a graduation speech. People chuckled at my funnies and told me how much they enjoyed it after the ceremony.

That day, I learned several things about myself. I was bold. I stepped out of my comfort zone, and I spoke in front of hundreds.

I also learned that I’m really good at faking it.

Singer Kesha is unfortunately all too familiar with putting up false fronts. As of last week, she’s legally forced to remain in a contract with her alleged abuser.

Kesha’s mother said the pop star started struggling with bulimia once she signed with Dr. Luke in 2005. However, the first indication of her troubles wasn’t until she checked into a rehab facility in 2014.

Some will prod you with a stick in the back saying you can “fake it ‘til you make it.”

I call bullshit.

For nine years, Kesha posed for the paparazzi, trying to build a career without the help she desperately needed.

Of course, any person on the street could ask you how you are, and you probably won’t ever reply as honestly as “I wish I didn’t exist, how about you?”

But I beg of you, be that candid with someone. Anyone to start with.

For me, it’s a therapist and a few friends. “Someone” could be either of those, or it could be anyone you trust.

The key for me wasn’t finding someone to give me powerful advice. It was putting words to what I was feeling and not living in denial.

I always smile in posed photos, and I can force myself to look happy when I need to.

But life is about snapshots, not the plastic studio portraits where hair is spritzed into place and hands are folded across the lap.

Bringing my demons to the surface was terrifying, but no scarier than the pain that already existed. Once I could give voice to the part of me that was suffering, I was able to get myself the help I needed.

The process didn’t end the first time I admitted to depression my freshman year of high school. Up until now, I have to keep that conversation going with a friend almost every week, unloading all of the stress I’ve gritted my teeth to get through.

Flash forward ten months.

It’s 3 a.m., and I’m sending funny pictures to my sleeping friends. They roll their eyes when I spout cringe-worthy puns, eat potato chips loudly and dance without shame in the light.

Ask me how I am, and I’ll tell you.

I’m more alive now than I have ever been.