We all hide behind a mask of some sort, whether it’s to hide our anger, sadness, excitement, stress, or anxiety, we all do it at some point in our lives. For others, and for me it’s become part of our daily routine. We put on a smile or brave face to protect ourselves or the people around us. We don’t want to worry them. Our ego tells us we should have our shit together. It can be for many reasons. But, it’s usually to our own detriment as the struggles behind the mask don’t go away.
For most of my life, I’ve lived behind a mask. Sure you’d never know there was anything wrong you’re always smiling, people would say. Or, why didn’t you say something you look so happy. Maybe it’s an Irish thing but when asked how you are, we usually just say, ah sure i’m grand. We are all familiar with the old saying you never know what’s going on in someone’s head, right? Nobody knew what was going on inside my head for so long. When I was alone I would take off the mask. And it wasn’t pretty. What I saw I didn’t like. Literally and metaphorically. I learned over the years to adapt my personality and cover my actual feelings. It took its toll and eventually, the mask crumbled, and so did I.
When I started this blog I began to remove the mask, slowly. It was like a massive weight had lifted off my shoulders. It’s not easy carrying around the burden of being someone else and hiding behind a mask. I guess I was the sad clown. I still am to an extent. I post images on social media of me smiling. Id lower the phone and the smile disappeared. The worries would then reappear and the overwhelming sensations of worry and fear would start over again. Very few people see past my mask but it’s still there sometimes. I get asked do I feel the pressure to be positive on social media because I promote positive mental health. The answer is yes I do. For a while I would use filters which let’s face it is just a new way of wearing a mask. I quickly stopped using them when someone close to me actually said to stop wearing the mask. Those words unbeknown to them struck a chord with me.
There is a s scene at the beginning of the movie American Psycho where Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is peeling off a face mask and he says; “There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me. Only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our life styles are probably comparable, I simply am not there.” This is how I felt for so long. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a beautiful but flawed person behind every mask. And that’s ok. Nobody is perfect. It’s those imperfections that make us all unique and beautiful. Take off the mask. When you see what’s underneath you will be surprised what an amazingly authentic and vulnerable person you see.
There is so much help and support out there like The Samaritans for example. You can contact them here
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