• Emily Cashel

The Mask I Wear

I am screaming at the top of my lungs but you continue not to notice. My hands violently thrash through the water and my feet try to propel me upward. My muscles tire and I do not have much breath left to give. I can see you, but you are blind to the fact I am sinking further and further down into the abyss. “Help me,” I shout in my mind. You continue on your way while I slowly suffocate. I can see you but you do not see me. You do not see me drowning. You never could see me drowning…depression.

That’s how I feel Sunday night as I prepare for work the next day and bed. I cry until my face is swollen and my eyes are bloodshot. l wrap my arms around myself, grasping at reality, and rock back and forth on the bathroom floor trying to keep from collapsing in on myself. When I can finally catch my breath, I down a Xanax and wait till I feel its relief wash over me. Fifteen minutes later, my tears dry across my face and I’m finally able to unclench my arms from around myself and lay down in bed. I am so exhausted from crying; I do not need to take my usual sleeping pill.

It is Monday morning. I get out of bed, wash my face, and let the dog out. I go about my routine then proceed to put on my clothes and mask for the day. I drive to work. Before exiting my car, I make sure the mask is securely fastened. It smiles and says “good morning,” to coworkers as I or “we” enter the building. Once I get to my office, I unfasten the mask so that I can let out the breath I had been holding in. I do not completely remove it though in case I need to pull it down and flash a quick smile.

Thoughts of last night’s breakdown flit into my mind but I try to shove them off. I’m not supposed to have those thoughts when I wear the mask. It is supposed to protect me from the doubts, insecurity, and pain I feel searing in my mind. I make conversation with my coworkers and put together presentations all behind this façade I attempt to master daily. But today is different. I hear the first crack and my eyes lose their sparkle. The second crack comes quickly after as my smile begins to fade. Five o’clock comes and I feel the mask beginning to split. I grab my things dashing for the car before everyone sees the real me. It crumbles to pieces as I shut the car down. I look down at the remnants of who I’m supposed to be in my lap and take my first deep breath all day.

It is Tuesday morning. I get out of bed, wash my face, and take the dog out. I go about my routine then proceed to put on my clothes and my mask to face another day…depression.


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