Mask Up!

by Tara Walls, a Doxa Counselor

Happy Mental Health Awareness Month! This observation was created to examine, educate and bring awareness for both our mental health and others. Whether it is your first time hearing about it or it’s a carefully planned out time for you, allow me to share on our current state and why this is the perfect excuse to do check-ins with yourself and those around you. 

Mental health has been a taboo topic for years. It’s as if those living with depression or anxiety (and/or other mental disorders) have to hide who they are and ‘mask up’ to make themselves more appealing to the masses. No one should feel they need to suppress who they are just to make those around them ‘more comfortable’. With every one coming from a different background and a plethora of experiences, it is unfair to be judgemental towards another human being. Life affects us in many ways and our responses, both emotionally and mentally, may vary depending on said experiences. No one has it all together, so why do we act as if we do? 

I think it is easy to blame the media for wanting and craving perfection, but when will we stop using that as an excuse? The media can only use what we as a society give them. I believe that if we stop feeding into narratives and only ‘showing up’ as picture perfect, reality would seem ‘normal’ again. There is so much pressure to achieve. There is so much pressure to obtain accolades. There is pressure to constantly be ‘on’. There is pressure to mirror the relationships and life experiences of those around us. It all can be exhausting, so we mask up. We hide our imperfections to appear that everything is alright.

Masking up helps protect us or at least we think. The ‘masks’ put on to the outside world can only hold up for so long before our weary minds and bodies, just can’t anymore. Even though we think that pretending is protecting our image, it can be damaging to our mental health. It can be a chore to maintain the appearance that everything is together and picture perfect. Doing so, only leads to more comparisons and leaves no space for vulnerability. How can we formulate genuine community if everyone is acting? 

It is important to be cognizant of your inner self and your tribe! In doing so, it shows your people that you care. It gives space for honest feelings and life giving conversations. I encourage you to cultivate a space that allows people to strip the mask away. Be a place or offer an experience of refuge so they can feel safe enough to just ‘be’. But as you show up for them, make sure you show up for yourself! Don’t become empty from taking care of those around you! Check in with yourself daily, take your medicine, treat yourself at least once a week. Find joy in the small things, even when you don’t want to. 

As this Mental Health Awareness Month winds down, allow yourself to examine how you can show up for those around you as well as yourself! Let’s normalize talks of therapy and the ebbs and flows that medication can bring. Let’s be honest when we are feeling lonely or down and then ask for help. Evaluate whether you are placing unrealistic expectations on you / your people. No one has it all together, so gather around and lean on one another. If you feel that you need a bit more support than those around you can offer, I’d love to help be a support for you as you learn ways to take care of yourself. Please feel free to hit that contact box on our page so we can connect! 

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Tara Walls

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