This selfie I took on my recent trip to New York and posted it on instagram. It showed what people expect to see. Someone having a great time, happy, carefree, exploring a new city. A face with a full of make up (or as I call it my mask). It got the comments you would expect:
“you look so well”
“You look so much better”
“so good to see you doing so well”
“you look so happy and healthy”.
The compliments came in but all I felt was a fraud. It wasn’t the real truth.
What they didn’t know about was the 2 days I spent in my hotel room not being able to leave. Crying. Anxiety so high all I could manage was room service until my friend was around in the evening. Even then one night we had to stay in my hotel, going out was just too much, so it was an evening of room service and netflix.
This photo was not just me.
This happens with most people experiencing mental health issues.
People around get tired of the person not being able to do anything, who’s tired all the time, totally drained. This is where the mask comes on and we pretend we are just great . . . sometimes even fooling ourselves until we get too exhausted from it and then comes the inevitable crash.
Shortly after my trip, I decided to delete all photographs of myself on instagram, and all recent photos since I’ve been ill off facebook, as I knew they were lies. I also deleted some older ones where I looked happy but I knew the real thoughts going on in my head.
When I looked at the photos all I cold see was all the feelings inside, trying to be masked with a smile. My mouth was smiling, but I could see the dead look in my eyes, revealing the truth. Of course no-one else would even notice that.
This photo I have taken on a recent bad day. I wanted to show the truth (and it is scarey to show). It shows the inability to move out of the safety of my bed. Curled up. Crying. The true weakness and sadness being allowed to be let out.
Mental illness looks different for each person, but I am pretty sure I am not alone in feeling this way.