I wear a mask a lot. A metaphorical one of course, I’m not wandering around Suffolk looking like Lady Gaga. My mask is my barrier between the true me and the world. This weekend has been hard going. September is full of birthday parties as all of Izzy’s friends were born within weeks of each other. On the one hand this is excellent as it is making the month go quickly as each party comes round but mentally it’s been really hard.
I have gone from virtual isolation through the holidays to starting back at work (not too hard but many new faces to get used to) and the parties. I have been thrust back into socialising with people, back into public and my mask is slipping. Every time someone asks if I’m well or doing ok, I lie. Every. Single. Time. Physically I’m doing alright, usual pregnancy aches, pains & niggles and yes because of the weight I’ve dropped I’m looking better than before, my bump is the bowling ball up the dress type and quite frankly my nails are amazing!
However, mentally I’m struggling like never before. My mask is slipping, someone noticed this weekend, that is not supposed to happen. My mask has been strong for a long time but it’s not working as it should. Today, for the first time in ages, I was close to having a panic attack. This is a worrying step back for me as last time that signaled the start of my agoraphobia. I cannot go down that road again but right now I am at a loss as to how I stop it. People reading this are no doubt thinking “just tell people, they are your friends, why lie?” and it’s a good point, except have you ever seen someone’s face fall as you mention you are not doing well, behind the eyes they are scoping out how to get away from you so you don’t start burdening them, crying on them or quite simply “going mental”. No one wants to hear your woes when their lives are going well, or they have their own issues. No matter what they say they really don’t. So I do what I always do in social situations, I put on my mask and end up sitting alone.
I keep going though and will do so because I am damned if I am going to let my shortcomings affect my daughter anymore than they already have. It’s not her fault her Mummy would rather crawl under the bed covers and cry herself to oblivion than put on that mask and leave the house. I was reminded of how I feel when listening to Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince last night. Dumbledore says to Harry “You will hear many of his Death Eaters claiming that they are in his confidence, that they alone are close to him, even understand him. They are deluded. Lord Voldemort has never had a friend, nor do I believe that he has ever wanted one.” This struck a chord, a scary, worrying chord. I am the same. No I’m not an evil dark wizard blah blah blah but very few people see the real me. In fact I can only think of three. My husband, my daughter and my Mum. Even my Dad and my sister don’t witness the real me, I wear the mask for them too. Only my husband and my wonderful Mum have heard me in a full depressive breakdown, listened as I’ve sobbed about what is going through my head, my worries as the worst of my dark thoughts threaten to take over and cause me to harm myself.
That is my reality when I get home and take the mask off and I just don’t know how to stop it.
I want to get back to the point where I don’t have to remember which role I am ‘playing’ today, teacher, friend, daughter. When I can just be Ellie to everyone without scaring them off.