One of the skills I honed during a decade of depression is a sharpened ability to understand what other people are thinking. I developed this skill in order to keep my true thoughts hidden. What follows is a series of posts that will help you do exactly that, if you would like to end up alone, in despair, and in blackness. Or, you could read between the lines.
______________________(this is the first line)________________________
(subtle message in between the lines) —> DO NOT DO ANY OF THIS.
IT WILL ONLY LEAD TO DESPAIR
_____________________(this is the second line)_______________________
Part I. Tell People What They You Think They Want To Hear
Every authority figure in your life poses a different level of threat. At any moment, a conversation could turn inward, and you could be exposed. In order to reach a state of loneliness so vast and wide that no one can hear you scream, you must vigilantly guard yourself from any show of real emotion. Eventually everyone will go away, and you will be truly alone, although that will most likely be in a hospital or a gutter. Here are some examples:
Part I, Section A: Your Family
You must fool your parents and immediate family first, because it is with them that you have the most frequent contact.
It is highly probable that you will not be able to lie to your mother to her face, without her knowing it is a lie. The adage that ‘a mother knows her child best’ is true. There will always be something in the tone of your voice, or the shape of your mouth that will give you away. Instead, try this:
- Develop an interrogation pattern. Answer the same questions with the same amount of words and tone each time. Too wordy or too quiet equals red flag.
- Lean towards concise answers. If you can be thought of as ‘not that talkative of a kid’ then, that’s becomes your normal. You can then avoid having to explain complicated things, like emotions. (Those damned emotions, right?)
- Sprinkle in details consistently. You can’t leave your parents totally in the dark. Tell them all about your day at school – just not how you felt about it.
This is normal behavior for a teenager. Most of us don’t come home and sit on the couch with our parents, venting our innermost feelings over tea. You might wonder: What if they ask me specifically and repeatedly about how I am feeling? Good. Good. Good. Good. Good.
Part I, Section B: Your Friends
OK so the path to complete devastation is a little trickier now in 2014 because you’ve got old-timers like me from the 90’s spoiling your best techniques on the internet. Nowadays, friends are so much more aware of their friends’ well-being that they can even report disturbing behavior on Facebook – and the police can come to lock you up. I’m confident that you can take these old-school techniques and innovate on them.
The good news is that most of your friends either aren’t narcs, or they don’t care about you enough to lift a finger. It’s your closest circle of inner friends that you have to keep an eye on.
Like your family, you’ll have to walk the tightrope of emotional sharing with your close friends. You’ll be surprised how long you can go talking about nothing – for many years in some cases. It’s likely only to become a real problem when you try to have a meaningful relationship. This could be platonic, or sexual.
You’ll probably be able to date seriously for long periods of time, especially if you are able to find a mate who doesn’t probe too much. Even if someone does start to try to get close, you can always find ways to push them away. Just don’t make it too obvious. You can simply be ‘a little distant’.
You can get into normal teenage trouble just like all of your other friends, but make sure never to release what you are feeling underneath it all. Not unless you want to ruin your chances of becoming homeless in ten years.
Having fun (on the surface) and getting into trouble (to impress peers) are things you definitely should do in order to keep up appearances. It’s a helpful distraction tactic that I’ll cover in more detail in Part II of A Mental Guide To Fooling Everyone.
Part I, Section C: Teachers, Coaches, and other Mentors
God-damn it, why do we have to deal with so many of these? Thankfully only about one in ten actually take a special interest in your life. Most of the time, the odds are in your favor via student : teacher ratio. Here’s my advice on how to fly under the teacher radar:
- Be wary of art & music. These classes encourage expression, and simply sitting like a lump, refusing to draw is too obvious. Conversely, drawing something angry could get you a meeting. Keep it simple – trees, houses, and cats. Just say you love cats. No faces.
- Move around in gym. The teacher is watching you more, the less you participate.
- Lie to your guidance counselor. I know that all you want to do after you graduate is wither away and die. But you can’t tell that to your guidance counselor. Computer programming is hot right now, and you get sit in your room all day.
Teachers aren’t dumb, so don’t dismiss them as such. If one pulls you on the side for a talk, you can’t clam up or run away. That would only confirm their suspicions. Steel up, hold back your tears, and just tell them everything is OK. Be careful – it can be surprisingly emotional when a relative stranger expresses interest in your well-being.
Part I Summary:
There are people who care about you, so it will take some hard work to push them away. Practice these techniques enough, and you’ll be sure to get absolutely nowhere fast.