Saturday, August 14, 2010

Have you see my mask today?

Depression.  Those who have had it understand its pain and frustration.  Those who haven't can only imagine what it must be like.  They wonder what we mean by "pain"?  How can depression be painful?  And really all we can tell them is "It just is." 

It isn't your normal kind of pain like if you burn yourself on the stove or you smash your thumb with a hammer.  No.  This is an internal pain.  Sometimes it is like someone is twisting your insides around, your blood is burning, or you feel like you have to vomit, and other times, it's just a generalized pain that you can't even begin to describe.  To top things off, rarely is there a good reason to be down.  Often it just happens out of the blue.  Heaven forbid you should actually be sick when the depression hits because it makes it spiral down even faster. 

And then we have the public.  Our friends.  Our family.  Our coworkers and clients.  Too often we can't afford to be down and we certainly can't let anyone know.  We develop masks -- masks to hide the pain.  We plaster a smile on our face and pretend everything is okay.  We laugh when we are supposed to and we function as best we can.  We hide in bathrooms when it gets too overwhelming and fake a migraine when we just can't recover anymore and need to hide in our room.  And on the few occasions when we just have to be in public and we don't have the energy or perseverance in us to maintain that mask showing "everything is just fine," someone inevitably asks what's wrong and we simply say we don't feel well.  We have a stomach ache or we ate a bad lunch. 

No one ever bothers to inquire deeper than that.  We don't want them to.  This is why we choose our excuses so carefully.  We have an arsenal full of them.  You will never know them all and we come up with acceptable new ones every day.  All you can hope for is that one day, you will know us well enough that we will trust you not to cause more hurt if we take our mask off in front of you.  And if that day comes, we hope you will be empathetic enough to hold us when we cry.