Sunday, July 1, 2012
Guest Blogger: The Mask
in full swing, all I would want to do was stare at the wall. I could stare at the wall for hours if time
permitted. When my husband would ask me, “What’s wrong?” (because people always know
something’s “wrong”), all I could give him was, “nothing.” And after giving him that lie of an answer, I
would put on my mask.
My mask usually has a smile on it, and out of it’s mouth comes upbeat (fake) optimism. I wear the mask,
mostly, so the people around me won’t feel awkward. So that my children won’t think that my dismay
is their fault (it’s not). So that my husband won’t think I’ve lost interest in him (I haven’t.) So that my
friends don’t think I don’t want to be in their lives anymore (I do.) So that the children I care for each
day have the best day they can have while they are away from their parents.
I want to walk away, mostly, and be alone and in a quiet place. I don’t always (ever) have that luxury.
Before the diagnosis, I felt like wearing the mask was going to break me. At heart, I’m a fixer. I want to
fix things, situations, and relationships. And the truth is, in my own view, I didn’t want to lay the burden
of my mental state on anyone. So I hid it. Every morning, even though the only thing I wanted to do
in the world was pull the covers back over my head and cry (and I had no idea WHY), instead I got up,
brushed my teeth, took a shower, and put on the mask.
But then, I was diagnosed. I thought my doctor was full of it. I thought maybe the IUD I had placed 8
months earlier was “messing with my hormones.” My doctor suggested some mild anti-depressants.
I left that appointment not feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders – but more out of
control and crazy than ever. My husband was driving me – I cried all the way home. I felt like a failure.
I felt weak. I felt out of control and frazzled. I felt embarrassed. I thought there was no way in hell I’d
try those pills.
But do you know what? I did. And within a few weeks I was able to put the mask (mostly) away. I
felt like the old me…..cheerful, confident, likeable, and positive. I am not cured, and I have had more
episodes since then. But now I know what the onset of one feels like and I’m able to brace myself for it.
I do know now that I’ve suffered with this for quite some time and it’s good to now feel like doing things
again. My house doesn’t suffer. My kids don’t suffer simply because the last thing that mommy wants
to do is be outside….so I don’t have to make up excuses why we can’t play outside on a given day.
I’ll have to keep the mask at the ready, I’m sure, but over time I’d like to pack it away and only use it in
emergencies. But this is a battle that can’t be given up on, like so many in our lives. If I were single with
no children, I might feel differently. But I have a husband who genuinely loves me, flaws and all. He
doesn’t care if I’m 250 pounds or 150 pounds. And when a depressive episode comes on, he picks up the
slack I leave and has never made me feel bad about that. I have two incredible children who look at me
and don’t see any flaws, they just see “mommy.” They deserve to see a genuine smile on my face, and I
will do what it takes to keep one there.
Please – if you feel lost, helpless, worthless – any of those things….talk to your doctor. Life is meant to
be lived and loved and enjoyed by everyone. Even you. Especially you. There’s a whole world out there that loves you and that you will love exploring.