Whoever made up the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, is so wrong! Names (and words) do hurt, a lot. And seeing your children experience such hurt is infuriating. Allow me to explain.
There is a mask that people with mental illness wear. A mask on so tightly that even the individual who is wearing it often forgets what their real face looks like underneath. The mask is not comfortable – oh no – it is heavy and difficult to keep on. It portrays happiness which doesn’t exist. Social media pages like FaceBook and Instagram are filled with said masks. I have posted many pictures of myself wearing this type of mask – you know the kind … perfect selfie angle and filter to make everyone think that I’m happy and that life is just tickey-boo. Alas, life is hard, for everyone – I get it – but today it’s really hard for my daughter Caroline, and I’m so sad that what she experienced is even possible.
My daughter is 21, beautiful and smart. She makes a room light up and has a witty sense of humour that instantly draws people in; it captivates them. But there are many days when she wears the mask of mental illness. Her hair may be straightened and her highlights on fleek, but behind her aviators, in many of her pictures she is wearing a mask that is so hard to remove. It takes tremendous courage to take that mask off and show the world that you don’t always have it all together. It’s difficult, especially in today’s picture-perfect society, to show the tears that have washed away any trace of makeup that may once have given you a fake glow. Its difficult to peal away a mask that fits you so well for so long. And yesterday my daughter did this brave act and removed her mask for all to see, in hopes of not only helping herself, but in hopes of helping others as well.
This is what she wrote: (Papa, get a tissue!…)
Mask. Off. Here is my beautiful daughter, brave and kind, sharing something that shouldn’t require courage, but for now it still does. Sharing with the world that she needs help, just like so many others, and that she’s ready! Amazing.
Coming to terms with the fact that you need help is one thing, being able to afford it is another. Until Canada, makes mental health as much of a priority as physical health, there are many Canadian’s who will go untreated because of lack of funding. The cost of most psychologist visits is approximately, $150/hour and without private insurance, treatment facilities that specialize in things such as EMDR, cost thousands of dollars. I have been fortunate over my recovery to have had insurance cover the cost of my care, but because Caroline is too old to be on my insurance plan, she has little to no coverage for the care she requires.
Enter Caroline’s friend Josh into the picture. Recognizing that the intensive therapy and treatment Caroline requires costs thousands of dollars, he crafts a gofundme page where people can donate to Caroline’s care. I swallow my pride and gratefully accept Josh’s offer to do so (it’s extremely difficult admitting that you may need help as a parent), and Caroline, also happy to potentially take away some of the financial burden from me, posts the gofundme excitedly and mask-free.
And then this happens:
This person’s words made Caroline scramble for her mask. This person made her feel bad and selfish. This person caused Caroline to breakdown into tears and beg for Josh and I to remove the gofundme page. After she picked herself up a bit (mask now tightly affixed again), she reached out to this person and made sure that he was safe and tried to offer support as he is clearly hurting too – that’s just what Caroline does. Broken and in pain, she still made sure this person was ok.
But why does this have to happen? Would anyone say, “if you weren’t so flashy with your diabetes”…or “look at your insta pics, you don’t look like you have coronary artery disease…” no. But, sadly stigma around mental illness still exists and causes so many people to resort to the uncomfortable masks they wear rather than being ridiculed for their honesty. This needs to change. And Caroline, you will be a part of this change because you shared your beautiful face – mask-free. I am so proud of you.
If you are interested in learning more about Caroline’s GoFundMe, click here.
June 2, 2018 at 10:32 PM
What a courageous, brave, strong beautiful woman!
Trying to remove the stigma by sharing her story only to receive a harsh, cruel post from someone who obviously has no knowledge and understanding of mental illness!
It is the reality of this world when it comes to mental illness.
I had a conversation this past week with someone who said people who attempt suicide are just very weak.
I kindly responded ” this person obviously was in severe pain
no different than someone dying of cancer.
unfortunately “I hear so often”
nobody brings you a casserole or sends you cards or flowers
like they would if you had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
However, there is HOPE hhybecause of your brave mother and YOU sharing your story!
you are providing light in the darkness to people all over this country by being diligent in removing the stigma
where there is understanding
there brings empathy, compassion and kindness to all who are suffering with this
you are Both Hero’s in so many people’s lives
you aren’t weak
you are very strong
ignore the ignorant tesponds
what an amazing world this would be
if Kindness, compassion, and empathy was sprinkled all over the world and where judgment
no longer existed
I believe 100 percent that things will change because of your mother and you
I want to acknowledge you’re suffering by saying how very sorry I am
2 I know you will find Who your real friends ate!
it’s gut wrenching but at the same time
it is a gift from God
but alll God is teaching us who are real friends are ” they are gems!
they will be life long friend