Masks

Hi, I’m Caylee. I’m a (nearly) 29 year old Sagittarius introvert. I’m married to a great guy, have two energetic boys, two needy cats, and teach high school English. I love books, particularly fantasy and historical fiction. I drink way too much coffee, laugh at inappropriate times, and can’t control my sass.

I’m also the queen of wearing masks.

If you don’t know me well, or only on an acquaintance level, you would assume that I have all my shit together, and that my life is really great.

Which is half true.

My life is great: as I said, for a 29 year old, I’m pretty established. Happily married, done having babies, house, secure job in a field I’m pretty good in. Settled. On paper, the perfect life.

But…I struggle with anxiety and depression. The postpartum depression I was diagnosed with two months ago kicks my ass on a daily basis.

I also struggle with impostor syndrome.

If you know me semi-well, you might know elements of this. You may know the diagnoses, the struggles, but chances are…the full story is hidden behind yet another mask.

I hide behind these masks: I laugh at jokes, make meaningless small talk, let people vent to me about what they’re struggling with, while fighting to not sleep my life away, because I just can’t keep going. I may say things like I’m tired, but it’s more than that.

Two months ago, I wished both my youngest and I were gone…I wanted to be dead, and I wanted him…gone. Not dead, and I didn’t contemplate hurting him, but I just didn’t want him to be there anymore. The guilt I feel–felt–about this is fucking debilitating.

Last week, I told my husband that I didn’t want to wake up, ever. Then I got up, went to school, and put out a million little fires, before going home, napping on the couch for an hour, and going to bed at eight.

I live in absolute fear that someone will find out my thoughts, my struggles, my illnesses, and think less of me for these very human, very common struggles.

I don’t know who I’m trying to impress or live my life for, but I do know, that this fear is a huge factor in the masks that I cover myself in.

I strive to be the best teacher, mother, wife, daughter-in-law, friend, community member, aunt, I can. I put myself out there, constantly trying to pour from an empty cup. And why?

No really, why? Can someone please tell me why I have this pathological need to be perfect?

And sometimes, I slip, (probably because I need to say these things aloud.)  I say things about bad days, and drinking too much, and being neurotic, and people laugh, because they think I’m joking. Because I hide it so fucking well.

My counselor and my mom both have mentioned that maybe I would feel better if I just told people. Admitted how my life is really going, what I’m really thinking and feeling and struggling with. And part of me is like…yes. You’re right. Absolutely.

Then I freeze.

Mask up. “I’m good! How are you?” Or”Oh, good days and bad, but I’m so lucky! He’s already sleeping through the night!” Or “I just had an appointment, it’s really none of your concern where I was, but no I’m not pregnant again.”

Mask up, smile in place, continue on.

Maybe some day, I’ll find the courage to speak up. To vocalize where I’m really at. Until then…Maybe I’ll try one mask instead of multiple.

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