Hope Health Healing

Wear a mask for too long and you’ll forget who you were

Masks… we all have them, and they all serve us to some degree, but when you feel that you’re wearing your mask more than showing your actual real face then there’s a little bit of an imbalance there that probably should be addressed.

That phrase, ‘fake it till you make it’ has definitely worked for me during certain periods of my life. Mornings when I am so utterly sick of wakening up sore and you just want to curl right back up in bed again and hibernate for a few days… well that ain’t gonna happen.

Life has to go on, kids need to go to school, we need to go to work, dinners need made etc etc… so you put your big girl pants on, fake a smile and try not to winch too much through those days until, please God, some sort of relief comes.

If we really told people how we were when we get asked that, “how’s you?” question in passing… I have a feeling we’d not be approached too often in future! So sometimes it’s the best thing to do to put that smile on and say, ‘yeah good thanks’. And I think it goes some ways towards actually getting on the first step of that journey to actually, really feeling ‘good thanks’.

BUT… what if that mask becomes stuck? What if that mask is on so often that you yourself underneath are starting to find it hard to breathe, or even to be recognised anymore?

I’m writing about this because that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. I struggle with ‘pretending’ and with putting that mask on day in and day out until I barely recognise myself anymore as I can’t let my actual real feelings out.

The reality some days is that I’m tired, I’m dealing with a lot of personal issues at the moment and I’m comfort eating, I’m putting weight on and feeling really low about myself. I can let my mask fall so naturally when I’m around my children and know there’s no judgement there, just love…. It’s bliss and I’d be so lost without that.

When I have clients coming I can suit up and put on my ‘acupuncturist head’ and I love that side of my life, I get to really connect with people on a one to one. 

Here I am at my best, working out patterns, seeing what I can do to help and get such genuine joy out of seeing people thrive in that process.

But even in that scenario, I can stand in front of the mirror before my clients come and cringe at what’s looking back at me, the tired eyes, the clothes that I just don’t feel right in, looking at all the areas I wish I could change… can any of you relate?

It takes a lot of energy to keep that mask up and when you’ve been doing it for so long your energy depletes and you just don’t have enough to do the things you usually would… you start avoiding social occasions, you become more introverted and I guess a little bit of your sparkle is dulled and you see people drifting away from you and the sad thing is you feel like they’re probably right as you feel you’ve not got very much to offer them anyway.

So what can we do?!

  • Give yourself compassion and understanding. Look at the situation you’re in and understand why you could be burnt-out, sad or just plain fed up.
  • Surround yourself with good people – even if it’s just a small handful of people that you really, really trust and be honest. Let that mask come off and breathe a sigh of relief with them. Be open and honest and do it regularly.
  • Find ways of being without the mask – look for activities you can enjoy ‘mask free’… it could be a walk, a coffee with a friend, a morning to yourself, something safe that will bring a little bit of energy/reserves back into your being… and do these things as often as you can.
  • Take joy in the small things, be aware of those sparkly bits, recognise them and be so grateful for them when they come.
  • Allow yourself to use that mask when it’s needed. See it as a ‘tool’ to your advantage… but not a way of living all the time, use it when you need that little extra bit of protection and eventually you may find that you need it less and less.

I’m sure you can think of many other things that can help, so please add them in the comments, message my page or message me directly as I have a feeling there’s a good few of us in this boat from time to time.

Sarah x
Hope, Health & Healing Acupuncture


Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW