The Mask I Wear

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Depression sucks. Anxiety sucks. Borderline Personality Disorder sucks. And when you’re a woman dealing with all three, life can sometimes seem like torture.

It’s been so difficult lately to pick up the pieces of myself, when I feel like those pieces have been glued back together so many times that they are unfix-able. The pieces have become dust and that dust has flown away somewhere, leaving me with nothing but big holes in who I am. I’ve been struggling with mental illness since I was a teenager and I really thought it would get better. I thought that the dark parts of me would somehow get illuminated with time, and I would grow up to be a well-adjusted, happy adult. But, the illness never leaves, it just finds new ways of manifesting itself. In some ways, I feel like I dealt with it better when I was younger, because I was more resilient and I had this hope of one day getting “better.” But, I haven’t. I’ve actually gotten worse.

My anxiety is a recent thing. The last 10 years or so have brought this new dimension to my life. I never had anxiety before. I never cared what people thought of me. I never had fears of public speaking or of new situations. I never let fear stand in my way of anything. But, lately, it consumes me. This sense of dread, this sense of despair. It makes me lie awake at night and worry about things that will never happen. It’s worse when it comes to my children. Now that they are both in college, I think about what could happen to them away from home and I physically make myself sick with worry. And it doesn’t help when people get irritated with my irrationality. If it’s physically possible, I’ve thought of it. Even if you hit me with statistics, how unlikely something is, it makes no difference to me. I’ll still get ill over the scenarios that play out in my head like a bad movie.

Being mentally ill has always been something I’ve been afraid to talk about, afraid to let others know. So, I wear a mask of normalcy. But, in recent years, I’ve realized that there is no shame in saying, “I’m a mentally ill woman.” It’s who I am and it won’t ever change. It’s a lifetime label. My mission has become to help other women become empowered by their label, no longer fearful of what others will think. Would I choose to have this disease wrecking havoc on my life and the life of my loved ones? No–But, it was the hand I was dealt. They are the only cards I have to play–so play them I will–with dignity and pride.

My mental illnesses make me who I am–and most days, I’m okay with that.