This week has been pretty challenging. I have felt numb a lot of the time. One of the frustrating things about depression is the way it just lurks stealthily around the corner and you never know when it is about to hit your like a ton of bricks and knock you right off your stride.
As a teacher I have grown accustomed to putting on a mask every day as I make my way into work. Being professional means that however you are feeling on the inside you put on the teacher mask and project a calm exterior when you are with the students.
As a person who fights against depression, I have also learned that it is important to put on a mask. Not because I am ashamed or embarassed of my condition but because I know how to deal with it and how to manage it and I don’t need to hear the well meaning advice of those who think they understand telling me to look on the bright side or snap out of it.
I think because everyone feels sad sometimes, people assume that depression is simply sadness under a different name when of course it is far more complex than that.
I use a whole range of tools to help me fight it. It isn’t as simple as just making the effort to think happy thoughts. I consciously put on my mask when I give people the answers I think they want to hear rather than what I am really feeling and thinking. I consciously put on my mask sometimes just to make it out of the door to push myself to do what I have to do and then I put another one on top to make it to work and to do what I need to do there.
I dream that one day I won’t have to put on a mask anymore. That illnesses like depression will be better understood. People will recognise how disabling and terrifying it can be and how lonely. I dream that people who are fighting depression and other mental illness will not be judged and considered weak but will be recognised for their strength and determination.