09 May, 2018


This post is inspired by the most excellent Instagram profile selfloveclubb. Her posts along these lines really resonate with me. When you live with anxiety and/or depression (because sometimes it’s one, sometimes it’s the other, sometimes it’s both, and sometimes you don’t even know), you get used to wearing a mask. Not out of any shame or stigma, just out of expedience.

To quote the classics, if there’s a smile on my face, it’s only there trying to fool the public. And when you deal with the public as I do, they don’t want to talk to a misery-guts and nor should they be expected to. I may have a depression/anxiety condition, but I’m still a professional. A client once told me how nice it was to see my happy, smiling face and it actually took me a minute to realise he wasn’t taking the piss. It was then that I realised I must be a good actor.

There’s probably something to be said for trying to act normal – whatever that means. In fact, I can measure the level of my struggle by how many people I can or can’t hide it from. Being highly distractible helps. I can forget about it while I deal with other things. Then when there’s a lull, I remember I’m me and go back to struggling with that.

If someone looks sad, anxious or depressed, they probably are. If they look happy, they still could be sad, anxious or depressed. This is not so much to talk about my struggle as it is to express solidarity with others who are struggling, in whatever way for whatever reason.

After I posted this on Instagram the other day, a friend sent me a private message saying that they were experiencing something similar and what a help it was just to hear someone else express it. That has been my experience too. I don’t care what anyone else says about social media, it was the first thing that made me feel normal. I discovered I wasn’t a minority of one by seeing other people’s stories. In fact, I’ve been astounded at how many friends I have made who I later learned had similar experiences. We all wear masks. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s sometimes necessary, but it’s bloody exhausting.

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