I realize many of you will “get this” as we all tend to do the same; wear the proverbial mask. For others, family, friends, and colleagues, they may not truly understand.
Knowing that, in this day and age, I SHOULDN’T have to wear one but nevertheless must.
The mask. For those who don’t know what it is, it is just that; a mask. Not a physical, hand-held mask that one would carry at a masquerade party, but yet a physical mask in the same sense.
I place mine on my face every time I go out in a public place, when company is over, when I’m outside, and most times when my family is around.
I do this for two reasons; one being for my protection, so people won’t question my true displayed feelings and emotions, and the other to place everyone else at ease and make them comfortable around me.
Why do you ask? Why should I wear the mask? Well, in my situation, with my bipolar disorder, since my onset, I have not been symptom free or in remission for over 6+ years. Every waking moment I struggle with anxiety and depression.
“They say” the eyes are the windows to the soul. This is very true. My family can tell by looking into my eyes how I am doing mentally and emotionally. My eyes can be dead and empty during depression or squinted and have a hard time making eye contact during periods of anxiety. My facial expressions are also a dead giveaway as my eye lids fold over, my skin becomes taught, my brows furrow, I will appear more aged on my worse days, and my lips are either stretched or pursed. My voice is monotone and lifeless and my words are staccato, and at times shaky. Physically, I will either have tremors or am very sloth-like in my movements. My handwriting even changes, sometimes it is clear, clean, and loopy, others it’s cramped all together, and when the tremors set in, well, it’s shaky and very messy.
Back to the mask. It is just as easy for me to put it on in public rather than endure the endless questions about my mental wellbeing but to save them the grief of me explaining my struggles on a daily basis. So, I get the “Hey Laura, how’s it going?” and guess how I reply…you got it! “I’m fine”.
The only problem with wearing the mask is when it’s time for me to remove it, it literally takes everything out of me. I am done. I am drained physically, emotionally, and mentally.
It’s sad really that I have such a difficult time being around my own family and friends. It’s frustrating that I’m constantly uncomfortable when I’m in society. I use to be a social butterfly and was in my glory being in a conference room with 300 people. I enjoyed going to parties and events to socialize with others. Now, those things, on a small scale, are a chore or an avoidance.
It takes me days to recover from a weekend visit. It takes me days to recover from a Christmas party. I need downtime after going to the mall.
My invisible illness, is not invisible. Please remember that I wear a cast, made of stone, on my face, and it is a heavy load to bear.
Laura Marchildon will blog honest and true posts about her real life experiences.