The Masks We Wear – Mental Health Awareness

“You are not taking a step back when you are facing a dark night of the soul, you are healing.”

Mental Health Awareness isn’t and shouldn’t be a taboo topic. We shouldn’t feel like we have to talk about it behind closed doors. Mental Health and healing starts with you and me. Creating a community where we feel open enough to discuss what we’re going through is crucial to our well-being. I hope this blog post can be a start.

I’ve dealt with symptoms of anxiety and depression on and off over the past 5 years. My days are like waves of the ocean. Some crashing highs and some deep lows. I don’t talk much about what I’m going through, so I decided to pour my soul onto a blank sheet of paper.

The scenario I paint below is a piece of my truth. I am just like you. I struggle daily and have hit rock bottom. If you’re going through something similar, please know that I am HERE FOR YOU. We are in this TOGETHER.

Scene 1

*alarm rings at 6:00 am.*

My eyes are cracked wide open like the shutters of my window. The ceiling fan is slowly circumnavigating in a clockwise revolution. My body feels numb. Parts of me ache as I toss and turn without any relief in sight.

*get up Ashna! You’ve got work to do, places to be, things to accomplish. Don’t just lay there like a useless piece of crap. GET UP!” – my mind

Please, just five more minutes.

As the day ahead flashes through my mind like the turning pages of a book, I analyze which mask I want to wear today. Slide open the closet door and my costumes hang neatly on plastic hangers, just where I had left them yesterday.

Choices include:

  • “A smiling face” – for days when I want to pretend that everything is okay, life is perfect and I face no problems.
  • “I’m fine, it’s totally okay” – for days when I feel like lying and covering up my wounds rather than being vulnerable enough to say that I’m hurting.
  • “I’m successful and I have my shit together” – for days when I need an ego boost and to show the world I’ve got it all figured out. Just to end the day by wiping away the tears of despair that I won’t amount to much in life.
  • When people ask: “so, how’s your day going?” to which I respond, “good, how about you?” – for days when I don’t have the extra energy to say how I really feel, in fear that I’m breaking small talk etiquette.

The room feels dark and cold and all I want most is the sun to pour through and wrap me in its warm embrace.

But even the sun feels distant these days…

Scene 2

“Why can’t I just be myself? Why isn’t that good enough? Why do I have to change my exterior to fit in with society?” Aren’t these valid questions we should be asking? Yet everyone’s voices are silenced. We hide and hide all our lives till one day we’re lying alone on the cold bathroom floor trying to piece back our reflections in the mirror.

It’s me I’m staring at, but I still don’t see her. That’s my face, those are my arms and legs, yet I’m still nowhere to be found. Where are you?! I’m screaming internally. Come back! Please, just come back. I promise to love you just the way you are.

I wait minutes, hours, even days but my reflection doesn’t change. Have I really buried the real me for good? Will she ever re-surface? Is she lost forever?

The answer is no. But if I want to bring back the “true” me I have to work for it. I must be the change I wish to see in myself. Living authentically means honoring the parts of me that society tells me to wrap in a cloak of false security.

Scene 3

I am a brown girl with caramel skin, thick coarse body hair, large ears and stretch marks. Every inch of me is adorned with trinkets of imperfections but I still feel beautiful in my own skin. I took a vow to honor the real me underneath all the costumes, makeup and materialistic possessions.

Over the past year my wardrobe has decreased by more than 50%. I no longer feel obligated to wear makeup when I step out of the house. I don’t straighten my hair every day to feel pretty and I no longer look to my belongings as a means of validating my worth.

Learning to embrace myself in the simplest form has been my victory and an avenue for healing my anxiety and depression. My days no longer revolve around trying to fit in with the crowd and I am so thankful that I decided to choose myself over the world.

Scene 4

I wear the same clothes every week, and I’m still happy.

I don’t put any cosmetics on my face, and I still feel beautiful when I look in the mirror.

My hair has thinned over the years, some wrinkles have begun to trace footsteps on my face, and I still feel secure.

I don’t go out every weekend, drink alcohol or follow the latest trends, and I still feel valued in society.

I am a simple girl. I have simple dreams and I don’t need to wear a mask to make them come true. Can I tell you a secret? You don’t need to wear one either to achieve yours.

End Scene

So here I am. This is me. This is Ashna. My heart is on my sleeve and I’m an open book in front of you. I’m on a journey towards healing old trauma and my story is just unfolding. I hope you enjoyed reading and decide to stick around to get to know me.

I would love to get to know the REAL you someday, too.

With light & love,

Ashna

XX

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