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
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 this life.
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