It is Halloween, the day when pumpkins appear in more than just our lattes and when parents try to prevent sugar comas in their children. It is also, of course, a day full of masks and costumes.
For those of us who struggle with mental illness, we seem to wear masks all the time, not letting others see our pain, our darkness, and the demons that are with us more than just one day a year. My hope is that the day is coming when we can take those masks off, when we can be open about our battles, and it won’t be something people feel ashamed about because stigma will be a thing of the past. Wouldn’t that be a treat.
The trick, and a cruel trick it is, comes from the masks and costumes others wear when they decide to pretend they are asylumed individuals. With all the straitjackets and masks and restraints, the dangerous, malicious looks, it is no wonder that there is still a stigma. It is no wonder people still think those of us with a mental illness are dangerous. Here are just some of the costumes I found on Amazon.
Those of us with mental illnesses may wear masks to hide our struggles and our pain from a world we believe might not understand, yet we are not monsters. We are not nightmarish things to be feared. We want to take off our masks, but that will be a lot easier once the costumes, and the stigma they fuel, are gone as well.