Taking Off the Mask

Around the neighborhood I see people taking down their Halloween decorations. Fortunately, I haven’t seen anyone putting up their Christmas decorations yet (seriously people, there is a whole other holiday in between). And inside those same homes, the ghouls and goblins, the superhero capes and soldier’s camouflage, all of it is going back into storage or to goodwill. People are taking off their demonic masks and putting them away. Unless, of course, you live with a mental illness, then it is a bit more challenging.

Even after all the time I have spent in therapy, all the work I have done, and despite the fact I am very open about my journey here and with friends and at work, the reality is that I still struggle to put the mask of mental illness away. This is particularly true when I find myself in a crowded environment and my social anxiety is heightened or when my depression is at its absolute worse.

When the mask is on, I feel like I am watching life happen to me instead of being a part of it. I hide behind a mask, and I look out through the eyeholes of the mask, watching the world pass by around me. It is my maladaptive way of protecting myself, my anxiety. Really, it is the demons pulling the mask over my face, isolating me from the world around me. Because the demons of my mental illness love when I am alone and in the dark. They love when I have my mask on.

And as the costume store demons and devils take their masks off and reveal the individual underneath, I want so badly to be able to take off the masks of my mental illnesses and toss them in the closet as well. But unlike the masks of Halloween, these masks take time to remove.

But the good news that is exactly what I am doing, slowly but surely.

Each step I take in my recovery causes that mask to slip just a little bit more. And bit by bit I am letting this sun shine down on my unmasked face and it feels great. It feels like a breath of fresh air.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s