Mask Bullies

I have to say something. I can’t be the only person who has this problem. But it’s a risk. No one likes to talk about brain illness. Some think they don’t exist.

If you can’t relate, then I invite you to imagine a world where one half of your brain reacts as if you’re falling off a cliff while the other half tries to convince you, you’ll be fine. I’ve lived there. It’s not fun.

And the thing is . . . I have a very mild case of this brain malady. There are so many with symptoms more sever than mine. In fact, I really thought Jesus and the Holy Spirit had taken care of all my anxiety issues. I’ve felt free for years. My days of not being able to get out of bed left more than a decade ago.

Until recently.

I didn’t know I couldn’t wear a mask. I’ve never had to before. But just the thought of it makes me anxious. I listened to a pastor say they had to wear masks during service, and I almost hyperventilated. I stopped the video before it finished. The whole rest of the evening my hubby kept asking if I was alright. But you see, once the anxiety begins, it takes a while for the sensible side of my brain to take control again.

And now . . . every day . . . I face triggers. I can’t be on Facebook without seeing the bullies.

You see, I can’t just “suck it up” or “be decent” as your meme’s encourage me to do. And each one makes me feel helpless, weak and more anxious. I feel like I can’t breathe and I get light headed. It doesn’t matter how much I tell myself this is silly, the anxious side of my brain now has control, and it’s going to make me pass out before it relinquishes to the sensible side.

I understand some folks are frightened by this disease and the mask makes them feel better, but for some of us, the mask is more dangerous than the disease. If you just scoffed, I get it. It’s hard to understand. It doesn’t make sense, even to those of us struggling with it.

Your meme’s ask if I care about your grandmother’s health, but do you care about mine and the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer with mental illness even worse than I do?

No, I don’t like to talk about it. No one who feels this way does. Partly because we feel like it sounds silly. Maybe because it makes us feel weak. Probably because we don’t want the judgement that comes with the term ‘mental illness’.

Yes, I prefer to keep my tough facade intact, but if I can help one other person who suffers with this or any kind of anxiety know they aren’t alone, I decided it’s worth it.

If I can help one pastor understand that someone in your congregation is staying home because you said they have to wear a mask, it’s worth it.

This disease has already claimed the lives of people who suffer from depression when they were quarantined. It has stolen from those who need physical contact to survive (oh yes, that’s a real thing). People have died because their loved ones couldn’t come see them anymore, and they didn’t understand why. Yet, none of those numbers have been taken into account.

Please be kind when you post your opinions. Please read every meme from the point of view of someone who suffers with mental illness. Please help me breathe.

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I’ve been really humbled by the number of people who’ve read and shared this post.
And I’m so grateful for all the kind comments folks have made on Facebook.

But while you’re here, I thought maybe I’d invite you to join my book launch team.
I’m releasing two devotion books on September 8, and I’d love for you to be a part of the celebration.
get all the details here.

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