Me Talking: Put on a Happy Face – Or Not

We are told to put on a brave face, but sometimes the bravest thing is to take the face off.

Do you remember “Bye Bye Birdie”? Even if you don’t, you may have heard the song “Put on a Happy Face”. Who doesn’t want to spread sunshine all over the place? And those gray skies ARE going to lift. And we DO look so much better when we smile. And if you think of something nice you probably WILL feel better, even if not fine. So, come on. Take off that gloomy mask; stick out that noble chin, and spread sunshine all over the place. That’s right. Put on a happy face!

The problem is that while that is good advice most of the time, putting that mask of “I’m fine” on your face permanently can lead to stress and may even be a sign of depression.

Many people with clinical depression are loath to admit to it. And I get that. Some of us wear a mask because:

-To society, depression often signifies weakness or a cop out. Attitudes towards mental illness are changing but the stigma is still there.

-If you do open up and talk about your depression, you are probably told, “But you don’t act like you have depression” .

-You are tired of hearing all the “expert” advice insinuating that you are just not trying hard enough.

-you don’t want to upset your family. You want to be strong and not have them worry.

-if you have to explain depression one more time, it’s easier to fake it.

I’ve worn a mask. I’ve kept going, using every ounce of strength in my body, running on adrenaline until the time when there is nothing left to fuel me.

I’m trying to remove the mask. I hope I am not living the closing years of my life but time is passing so I’ll listen to Italian poet, Cesare Pavese.

The closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped.

Do you have any masks you want to drop?

 

image from Pixabay

3 Comments

  1. WOW, this really spoke to me! I’ve heard all those happy lines from experts and “non-” alike…not very helpful at all. I LOVE the quotation from the Italian poet you included–as that is Exactly where I am: 66 and masks OFF! It’s so freeing…and it’s amazing, as I do this latest blog with an authentic voice, how many people respond well to mask-off posts. We need to know we’re not alone, that we can grow courage as we get older. Depression has been a personal beast in my life, too–but it’s a good teacher, if harsh. Anyway, before I start rambling too far–I’m glad you visited my site so I’d know to come over here and meet you. Blessings on your day ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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