When I was around 19 I made a conscious decision to stop lying. It wasn’t an easy decision to make and it certainly didn’t happen over night, but it was at that point that I decided it needed to stop, things had to change. I realise that must sound a little strange and must be hard for the average person to understand; I think to really grasp what I’m saying you have to know that my entire being, up until that point, was essentially a coiled, slithering mess of lies and exaggerations. I used to lie to get attention, I lied to avoid punishment (fairly standard for a child), I lied to make a situation more fantastical, I lied to make myself more interesting, I lied out of pure delusion.
Everything I did and said was tinged with some form of a lie and then of course there was the ever developing farce of ‘being ok’.
There are occasions I can remember where, as a child, my depression must have been fairly noticeable to those around me (although none of us suspected what it was), my mum would ask what was bothering me and I would rack my brains trying to figure out just what was wrong, most of the time I would not even notice that I was feeling sad until she brought it up (that was how I always felt – it was just normal for me) I didn’t know why I was feeling down, but the answer of ‘I don’t know’ was not enough for my concerned mum to let up and so eventually I began making up stories as to why I was feeling sad. As an adult, I am still flabbergasted that she ever believed some of the tales I used to weave, but I suppose she was just relieved to have some sort of explanation as to why I was so often withdrawn and melancholy. My dad however, was not so easily taken in by my lies and so trouble often came my way. Generally though it was the festering, un-caught lies that landed me in hot water; I never took much care when lying – I didn’t plan to lie, my brain and I had no agreed upon story and so I rarely kept track of the lies I had already told and would often get caught in the middle of a lie that contradicted the mountains of others. They would build to such a twisted mass that after a while even I had problems deciphering the truth.
I don’t know what made me decide to stop the lying eventually but though I have occasionally relapsed, I now try to live my life in as much honesty as possible. There is a massive freedom in declaring your failings to the people you know, accepting them within yourself and having others accept them too.
I’m not proud of my lies. I don’t want this post to be misconstrued as a boast – I am painfully ashamed with the way I behaved to the point that when I was 21 I sent emails to some of the people I had lied to over the years, apologising. I know that over the years I have caused unimaginable hurt to those around me, but to not face the things I have done would surely be the cowards way out.
I have spent a long time believing I was a bad person because of the lies I told and to a degree I still believe that. My therapist says it was a symptom of being ill for so many years, I had to develop a way to cope with my disease and the things I didn’t understand. I believed some of the lies I told so fiercely that even now it is hard to see that some of the things I thought I knew are a fabrication.
Bipolar disorder is essentially, according to my therapist, behaviours that have arisen due to the chemical imbalance in the brain and so scientifically I suppose I am not a bad person; but to those I have hurt I am nothing but a liar and an attention seeker and sometimes no amount of remorse can undo your mistakes.
I live now in what is sometimes a painful state of honesty; I don’t open myself up to just anyone but those close to me are aware of all of my failings both past and present and luckily, for me, all of the people I have chosen to open up to have been unfailingly accepting. Their acceptance is like a drug, addictive, euphoric and warming to the core. I feel free to be myself and that is a true gift. I don’t need to make up a fantastical lie as to why I want to arrive an hour early for an appointment because my friend knows already that I have a strange need to be ridiculously early for everything and she accepts it. I don’t need to make my excuses and leave a party early because the crowd of new people are too much for me because everyone I surround myself with understands my anxiety and will support me. I don’t need to embellish my stories to make myself seem more interesting because to them, I am already interesting…
Honesty is such a great freedom and I wouldn’t be me without it.