I had to go to a dinner the other night. I placed the “fake face” on and went. I felt lousy, but I could not bail out of this obligation. I had already excused myself before several times. I knew I was wearing a mask to hide my pain, but I did not feel fake. I think it was because I was choosing to “put on an act” to protect myself. Not every place is the perfect time to indulge that you are having a recurrence of your bipolar episode. In fact, it is the rare moment that one is able to discuss it at all. If I had a headache, arthritis, or a common cold it would be acceptable to talk about how I feel. Emotional illnesses are tricky. The main thing to remember is they ARE illnesses.
So I wear the mask.
“We Wear the Mask” is reprinted from The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Paul Laurence Dunbar. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1913.