In light of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade:
I arrive at work early, looking professional and well made-up. I get along well with my colleagues. For the clients that come in, I am an energetic and sincere welcome. I ensure the people around me are well cared for, and I am proactive in seeing to their needs. My work is done on time, and generally done very well. I shine in order to warm the people around me, and joke with them to make them smile.
This isn’t a description of me– it is a description of my mask. This mask is securely fastened in place before leaving the house so that people don’t see what is underneath.
I am afraid that people might see under the mask, and see me as I see myself. They will discover that I am completely without worth, I am selfish, needy, stupid, disgusting and ugly; that I have no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and that I don’t, and never could, belong. That I don’t deserve anything I have – A loving family, a nice home, caring friends and a good job. This is how my depression manifests itself.
There is a movement to try and bring awareness to mental health and what mental illness can do to someone. People are encouraged to be themselves and to discard their masks, and are told they will find acceptance and understanding and help. This is just lip service.
The reality is that they will eventually tire of the “real you” and will expect you to “cheer up”. I’ve seen it happen to others – and me. Full disclosure at a former job earned me an “I’m glad you told me,” but when I missed a few days because I did not have the will to live, let alone put on a mask that suddenly weighs more than a truck, it turned into “snap out of it”.
I’m not saying this because I want sympathy, or understanding, or anything like that. I’m saying it because I want to tell people who are thinking of taking their own lives because of depression that I get it. I really get it, but please please please dig deeper than you ever have before and find the strength or reason to go on. Any reason will do. I beg you – please choose to live.