The theatrical symbols
of the masks of Comedy and Tragedy that you see on a number of
websites about bipolar disorder are especially appropriate at
portraying the extremes of bipolar disorder.
However, the mask of normalcy that we all put on
to try and hide our inner torments is the most common one. And it
is the one that fools most people to the extent that when something
happens, they are just left devastated.
Last year a work friend of mine killed himself.
He left a wife and three young kids who, with his workmates, were at
a loss to understand why. Mark always appeared to be a happy go
lucky guy, ready to crack a joke or share a story and would have
been the last person in the world that you would have considered a
His workmates were devastated on his particular
shift. They simply could not grasp that any one could feel that
things were so bad that the only rational alternative was to leave
I could. At the time I was also in the middle of
a low swing and understood that the specific reasons that bothered
Mark didn’t matter, it is just the way we feel at times.
But we put on the mask so people think that
everything is okay, in fact, we get so good at it that people think
that things are better than okay – and often they’re not.
On the other side of the coin when we are feeling
really good and we start taking that odd risk or two that we
normally wouldn’t – do we also put on a bit of mask until the high
takes over and the behaviour becomes self evident?
Is putting on a mask to hide our emotions and
turmoils necessarily a bad thing? No…… Unless it stops us from
getting the support and help that we need simply because we hide it
so well that no one knows there is a problem. Unless we get so
good at hiding the problems we convince ourselves that there isn’t
one – then we really do have a problem!!!!
I know that the worst times in my life have been
when I have hidden away deep inside myself the raw emotions that
plagued me. When I withdrew into my mask and shell and shut my wife
and family and friends away to try and stop the hurt. And you know
– it doesn’t make it feel better because my sense of loneliness and
of being different and separate increased.
Take the risk. Crack that mask just a little to
let yourself out because, at the same time you let people in, and it
is amazing that a difference it can make.