Acting, a.k.a. Pretending, a.k.a. Going Through the Motions 
I'll probably have to take several runs at this, to convey any real idea of what I mean.
Partly for that reason, this may turn out to be an extremely long post, even by my standards. If that happens, I will try to split it into sections of manageable length.
Starting in the middle of the story (before coming back to take another run at it):
I started wanting to die at around the end of 1971, or beginning of 1972. (I was born in early 1952. I was unhappy, solitary and silent when growing up, but I never had any thoughts of suicide.)
Since then, the thought of suicide has never left me, except at around the turn of the century, when, for a year or so, I was doped up to the eyeballs with the maximum clinical dose of paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat), and turned into a zombie. (But my story is really all about how I was already a zombie.)
Not ever really wanting to live (except for short periods of minutes or hours, never even for a whole day after about 1978, until one day in 2010, followed by a total of 3 days so far this year - or at least, those were 4 days free of bad depression, although "wanting to live" is perhaps putting it too strongly), I have found myself, in the words of the title of this thread, "acting", "pretending", "going through the motions", in a really massive way.
Ideally, I should describe just how deep that unwilling pretence of living the life of a human being has gone, without it ever seeming real to me for a moment. It certainly involved getting married, in 1988, and even becoming a father, in 1991. That (the marriage, I mean) was certainly the very nadir of my false existence.
(Fatherhood is something else altogether, unquestionably "real" in some way. It almost dragged me into life, by the heels, as if I were being born, 40 years late - but in a truly horrible and terrifying way. Stillborn, perhaps. But that is even harder to describe or explain than the topic of this thread; it is another story altogether, which must wait on the telling of this one.)
But I am in no position yet to explain what I mean by "false existence". I have to take another run at the whole story.
That first brief run at the story is all I can say with certainty from my usual, fully conscious point of view.
Of course I could say a very great deal more about my mental illness. I have already posted a lot in this forum, and a lot in other forums, especially the Usenet newsgroup alt.suicide.holiday (where I posted as "Lost Soul"). And I have written millions and millions of words in my diaries since the middle of the 1970s (after being recommended for psychoanalysis and then twice refused it).
But all I would write would still leave the fundamentals of this experience (of "acting", "pretending", "going through the motions" of my "false existence") unexplained. Some of you might well still recognise a good deal of what I wrote; and such recognition is a very valuable thing, in a world which generally does not even recognise such experiences at all; but telling an experience in a way that can be recognised by others who have had similar experiences is not the same as explaining it.
And it is to explain it that I have to take another run at it, from a more conjectural and fallible, less certain, but deeper and (I think) truer point of view. I've long wanted (needed) to do something like this, and it is certainly possible in principle, but I don't know if I can actually do it, even though I started out with a very definite plan of action for this thread.
I've numbered this section part "", because I've lost faith in my ability to tell this story at all. I'll have a mug of tea, and some anchovies on toast, and see if I can recover my lost will.
I was about to say we are all born equal, but that`s not true, so I will re-phrase it to we all start at the same starting point in life. Some of us are a lot more fortunate than others, in that we have a very comfortable upbringing, while others are totally at the other end of the scale. The damage can be done long before our first memories, and then it`s playing catch up. As long as we can think straight, there is hope though! That does mean trust, patience, and a lot of communication. It also means re-living a lot of painful memories, and having the right sort of support to get someone through that pain. It is possible though, if someone is prepared to give a go...