Removing The Mask and Revealing Your Mental Illness
We are expected to withhold our truth to protect ourselves from judgement. Trust me I have been there. I used to wear a mask like the Queen of the masquerade ball, but it only kept me from acknowledging my mental illness. The mask you wear to fit society’s standard guidelines is not protecting you, it is preventing you from living an authentic life. Revealing your mental illness is not easy, and for some it seems impossible, however, it is necessary to live the life you deserve.
Revealing personal information about having any type of illness makes you vulnerable, and at risk for harsh judgment by those who surround you. I was raised in a community where mental illness was extremely frowned upon. The reason for keeping this quiet in most cases is the moment you reveal you have a mental illness, you go from a person to a disease. It’s like you go from Kate Middleton to the mug shot version of Lindsay Lohan in the blink of an eye. All of your qualities that shape you as an individual suddenly disappear. However, you are not defined by your mental illness, it empowers you and other people have no right to dictate your self worth. We cannot allow the stigma of mental illness to keep us from being honest. We cannot allow people in society to dress us in the costume, the mask, they see fit. We have to separate ourselves from our struggle. The mask I wore prior to confronting my diagnosis of bipolar disorder only revealed the parts of me that fit society’s guidelines. Truth be told, these guidelines suck and are unrealistic. It keeps us from sharing our truth and living a good life.
How do we do this? Here are some personal strategies to help you gain confidence in the person you are, not the person others ‘see’ or want you to be.
Reveal Yourself To Yourself First
You have to acknowledge and accept your mental illness before anyone else does. Every morning get up, and repeat this to yourself:
My illness does not define me, I will use those times of despair to embrace these emotions and find the light within a dark room. I cannot see the sun today, but tomorrow the clouds will go away. And if they don’t, I do not fear, life is beautiful, and its mine to share.
Write down the things you love about yourself. If you have trouble finding these in times of depression, write down any compliment a person and/or persons have given you. Mold your mask around positive words, not the words that costume you in darkness.
I am beautiful, smart and loving.
Express the Best
The things you write, the positive is what you reveal to people. It is in the way you walk, talk and stand. Remember we are unique and creative individuals. The authentic you is the best possible version of yourself.
The Bottom Line
Reveal the gifts that your uniquely crafted mind gave to you. “Blending In” is a rule for eye shadow, not for living.