Man taking off his mask

To the One Who Saw Past the Mask That Hides My Depression


I walk in the room with a smile on my face.

The mask I wear so well is indistinguishable from my very being.

It has become a part of me and I dare you to try taking it off.

I sit down in the seat across from you, still smiling as I tell you about my hurts and painful happenings.

It’s easy for me, this pretending. I’m used to it, you see.

The mask fits me comfortably and I barely even notice it’s there anymore.

But you see past the mask.

Perhaps something gave it away.

Something in my eyes or the way I exhaled too deeply after that last sentence.

I quickly smile once again, trying to cover up anything that may have shown.

You pretend not to notice and I’m thankful.

My mask protects me, keeps me safe and in control.

My mask has become my worst enemy and my best friend.

But as you speak words of empathy and compassion, I can feel the edges of my mask loosening, curling up ever so slightly.

Could it be, that you have seen beyond the mask? Even after I have masterfully kept it under wraps?

The glimmer in your eye and the patient silence is deafening.

You wait, with kindness and understanding, you wait.

I can feel the mask start to itch.

I suddenly feel trapped yet exposed.

I long to tear off the mask that is holding me captive.

I long for someone to see me for who I really am.

And still, you wait, and you watch with warm eyes.

Meeting my gaze only to ask, “How are you feeling?” which fees like a thousand questions wrapped into one.

  

And with this one question, you beckon me into the light.

With your patient waiting, you silence the voices telling me to hide.

With your smile, you remind me I am not too much, but more than enough.

With your peaceful demeanor you tear down my walls, brick by brick, session by session, never rushing or criticizing in the process.

My recurring head nods and long silences in between discussions are never met with judgment, but with acceptance.

And moment by moment, we are conquering this mask together. Slowly untying that which has left me blinded for years.

With each passing moment I am safer and yet more exposed than I have ever been before.

My mask will not go away so easily.

It is a long process that is only just beginning.

It has taken years to build up and will take years to undo.

And yet we continue together, to conquer that which challenges me every day.

And so as I sit here, stiff, smiling, hiding all that is begging to be released. I thank you.

Thank you to the one who saw past my mask — and decided I was still worth fighting for.

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Thinkstock photo via Stockbyte

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