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Why I Love Halloween as Someone Living With Mental Illnesses

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“So, what scares you?”

Me? Not much scares me — only my phobic disorder, emetophobia a.k.a. fear of vomiting. Other than that? Not much. I have an anxiety disorder (GAD), which can cause anxiety at any point in time — but over what? Absolutely nothing. What scares you?

Halloween is comforting to me, always has been. I’ve been in love with Halloween since I can remember. Maybe it’s because all of the monsters, goblins, skeletons, murderers even, don’t compare to what is conjured in my mind when I am anxious. These things don’t even make me flinch anymore. I often find solace in watching horror movies at bedtime, whisking me away to another “scary” scenario that doesn’t involve my mind.

Another possibility of Halloween is you can be whatever you want. A princess, a hero, a villain — there are endless possibilities! How great is it that I can be somebody else for a day? I don’t have to put on my “Everything is going great” mask. I’m not wearing my “Look, I’m out of bed and trying really hard” mask. No masks to hide what’s going on internally. I can be the hero I’ve always envisioned! Oh, if only it were that easy.

Coincidentally, I am also a makeup artist. What better way to hide your true self from others than with makeup? A false sense of who I “might” be if I wasn’t consumed by all of this fear, this hatred, this sadness, or sometimes plain emptiness. I post my makeup on social forums all the time, especially at Halloween — because look at me! I’m a monster! How scary.

…But in the mirror, I see myself. My true self staring back at me. These creatures I create are often the demons in my head that I bring to life. So I take a picture. I take a picture and embrace it for the moment, because this is me. This is who I see every day. You may see a pretty face, a mother, a wife, a fill-in-the-blank — but this is what I see. This is what I feel. Every day. This is simply me.

However, for this one day, I can be anything I want. I can put on any facade I choose, because it’s socially acceptable. I can be the bad guy or I can be the person who saves you from the monsters. Maybe it’s because I often feel like I can’t save myself. Who knows.

Halloween is my favorite time of year. It’s a day of pretend. A day of masks that are pre-made and thought up by somebody else. I don’t have to hide on Halloween if I don’t want to. But also, I can just put myself up against make-believe monsters that are far less scary than the ones lurking inside my own mind.

Happy Halloween, fellow mask-wearers. This year, be what you want to be.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: October 13, 2016
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