The Lies We Tell

I lied to my dentist this morning.

A very small minority of you (i.e. those who know me in real life and read my blog, or those of you who literally read every post in this thing for some reason) may be aware that I have a bit of an anxiety condition. This condition is why I lost/had to give up my teaching job and am now translating from home. I don’t talk about it much because – well, I suppose because I hate sounding weak, and also because I generally feel like there is too much whining about mental health on the internet and far too little of it outside, so that a lot of lucky, healthy people attribute this whining to the over-imagination or the attention seeking efforts of a few vocal bloggers rather than a massive, world-wide phenomenon we just stay silent about a lot of the time.

Me too. I hate being known as the girl with massive panic attacks. And this is why I lied to my dentist – or rather one of his receptionists. I lied because I slept for about half an hour before my alarm clock went after tossing and turning, some throwing up and more tossing and turning all night. While I was still lying in bed, my head went through a kind of super-fast druggy movie-montage of all the dentist appointments I’ve had already and all the possible ways to get out of this one. At that point I couldn’t really move.

I stumbled out of bed to throw up again and then sat in front of my computer crying for about 15 minutes because the dentist didn’t have an email address that I could cancel on (making uncomfortable phone calls being another thing I tend to avoid). Slowly I decided to try and get a grip, I’m a grown-up after all, I have lived with this for a long time and damn it if I couldn’t beat that sucker. So I got dressed, feeling dizzy and like I was about to faint and by now my stomach hurt like crap from all the throwing up and I really just want wanted to sit here and cry. But I made myself walk to the bus station – where the bus just left as I walked up to it.

The next one would have made me 20 minutes late anyway and the idea of standing there for half an hour, shaking by the side of the road decided things for me. So I went back home and finally did pick up the phone, into which I babbled some well-rehearsed lie about a stomach bug, all the while expecting her to call me out as a big liar and a coward and a baby. She didn’t, obviously, they never do any of the things I’m so afraid of. She just gave me a new appointment in two weeks for a do-over and now I am sitting here with an overwhelming rush of relief and shame.

I’m not writing this because I want you to feel sorry for me. I’m okay. I have it far less bad than others and this was pretty extreme, I assume because I am trying a new kind of medication at the moment. This doesn’t happen every day and really, most of the time, I do manage to fight it down and do what I have to do.

I am writing this, because whenever someone else describes their ridiculous fears – like Aubrey Plaza mentioning her fear of opening letters (it starts at 8:00) and weird ways of getting over that (hi there, that’s one of mine, too!) – I feel better. I feel I’m not alone and so sometimes, I get seized with the desire to do that for other people or at least to not contribute to staying silent. So here it is, my story about lying to my dentist.

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