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When Wearing a 'Mask' to Hide Anxiety Becomes Part of Your Daily Routine

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Because of my anxiety, throughout my life, I’ve had to wear a mask to hide how I was really feeling. This mask has allowed me to seamlessly blend into the world, like nothing was wrong with me. As I’ve gotten older, it’s just become part of my daily routine, like putting on mascara.

Without my mask, I feel vulnerable and exposed. 

My mask has become a suit of armor to shield the world from seeing what’s really inside my head. I’ve always felt like in order to be accepted, I had to appear a certain way. I never thought anyone would understand me the way I really am. This mask allows me to get through the day, until I am finally alone and I feel like I can breathe again.

Some days I feel safe inside my mask, no one can hurt me if they don’t know what’s going on inside. It protects me and my unpredictable emotions from outside judgment. Other days I’m screaming inside, wishing someone could hear me. It’s not easy to go through anxiety alone and some days I just need support.

Throughout the years, I’ve use my mask as a coping mechanism, so I wouldn’t have to deal with my anxiety. I took on a “fake it ‘till you make it” mindset. Pretending I am OK on the outside though, will never heal what is going on inside.

As I’m dealing with my anxiety, I am slowly taking off the mask. We can’t overcome the stigma of mental health if we keep hiding, pretending nothing is wrong. The more we reveal and express our issues, the more we will find we are not alone.

Removing my mask, and sharing my story has been therapeutic for me while I’m processing my anxiety. When you wear a mask for so long, you can start to forget who you are and you realize no one actually knows you.

Taking off the mask is scary, but it’s necessary. I would rather be surrounded by people who love me for who I am, not for who I pretend to be.

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Unsplash photo via Allef Vinicius

Originally published: November 13, 2017
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