Putting on Your Face

Ditch the Mask

…free ourselves!

Daydreaming about my younger days I often recall the times I told people, "I have to put my face on," prior to leaving my house. Makeup just seemed to make me feel better and evened out my pale skin, freckles, and pimples. Why I didn't feel comfortable going out into the world in my natural skin, who knows? Was I trying to hide my face? Maybe.

In our modern world, so often more than not we judge others and are in turn judged. How? Appearance first, the style of clothes you wear, your hair, the color of your skin. This is still a monumental problem, yet in the year 2019, it's not something I would have imagined when I was marching in the '70s with my mother, boycotting grapes and impeaching Nixon. Yet, discrimination and adjudication are a huge part of our world today. In addition to your appearance people are gauged by how they talk and the language they speak, as well as where they are from. Undocumented citizen? This is currently at the height of the controversial issues in our world and in America a heated debate, especially in Arizona and Texas.

Why must we evaluate others in such a negative way? What makes one person’s set of DNA structures and SOCIAL status better? I grew up in Bakersfield, Berkeley and the SF Bay Area and my mother strived to teach us a better way. Yes, I’m white, but not I’m not wealthy, no silver spoons here. We struggled, lived pay-check-to pay-check. Definitely a difficult road for me, especially with my brother struggling so much. Mental illness was the last thought in our household, although no discrimination would come forth from my mouth, it was just something we knew very little about.

In 1987 my brother took his life after a long battle with so many demons. My mother never really understood him, nor to my surprise, did she attempt to. I think this is why she had so much guilt, in the end, you know, after he died. Shocking really, considering my mother had a degree in Psychology and worked so hard to help others. I guess she never really knew how to help her own children. She really loved us, but her idea of "tough love" wasn't what it is today, nor how kids are treated now.

So, what mask was she wearing? As a woman who survived three-fourths of her body being burned in a fire, was ridiculed for her body and had a mother who really didn't love her— she overcame many obstacles. Yet, she didn't want judgment being placed on her family. Her children couldn't possibly be suffering, or battling demons— that meant in her eyes there was something wrong with her. So, she put on a mask, like so many others in the world. Let's cover it up, not talk about it— it will go away. She didn’t do this about most things in her life, quite the opposite. But if it would reflect badly upon her, it was thought nobody would be the wiser. But— does this work? I think not.

Not talking about something like mental illness places a shadow over it, a pang of guilt and shame. It's not wrong to have a mental illness diagnosis, just as it's not wrong to have any other organ in your body fail or require medication to regulate it. So, let's demystify mental illness, let's talk openly about it, let's not fear to have it or loving someone with it. Let's "Ditch the Mask," and free ourselves.

I'm starting a campaign to do just that, so if you're in, comment and let me know. We'll take over social media, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. Place it in your story. — It's coming soon. Stay - tuned!