Behind The Smile, Behind The Mask

Sometimes speaking out about mental illness can be difficult. I find it easy to talk about recovery and when things are going well but it’s not so easy to say that actually things aren’t okay and I guess that’s why I’ve been a bit quiet lately. My blog posts, tweets and Facebook statuses have slowed down in the digital world and my facial muscles ache from forcing a fake smile onto my face in the real world.

It’d be easier to pretend that I’m okay and to stay quiet until things are better but then I’m not sure how that’s helpful for anyone because speaking out about mental illness needs to be a true picture, it can’t just be telling people about the good days. The bad days are when people need the most support and understanding. As much as I want to pretend right now that things are fine and I am okay, I recognise that if I truly want to help others then I need to bite the bullet and be honest because relapse is a part of recovery and that is okay. Pretending recovery is dream-like and perfect is not okay.

I don’t sleep well anymore, not since I relapsed with self-harm. It hurts to lay on my side and I worry about knocking wounds in my sleep and bleeding on my bed sheets. I wake up in pain, every single day the pain in my jaw is unbearable and the flashbacks that come along with it mean the mental pain is worse than the unbearable physical pain. Every meal time is a battle, exhaustion takes over my days and I find myself having to have a lay down before and after doing anything.

I’m scared. Scared because I know this journey far too well. I know what lays at the end of this road after I’ve hit all the speed bumps and swung through the chicane then comes a stay in the psychiatric ward and I don’t want to reach that destination again.

Frustration and self-hatred combine and together they become anger. An anger that has hit boiling point. The steam is not only coming out of the kettle but the kettle is going to explode too and boiling hot water will erupt everywhere scolding anything and anyone that it hits.

I don’t want to be like this. I don’t want to be poorly. I don’t want to be the reason my friends and family can’t sleep and I don’t want to hurt anyone. All I can do is give each day my best shot, try to be kind to myself and take my medication until this passes or improves. For now I am scared and I feel very small. Small, weak and tired but determined to win. We only get one life and mental illness is not going to take mine.

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19 thoughts on “Behind The Smile, Behind The Mask

    1. Small steps. That’s what gets me through times like this. Maybe you got out of bed. Yay you! Maybe you didn’t manage that, maybe you move your arm enough to reach something from your bedside table. Celebrate that. I find that you have to enjoy those small things until you reach a place where you have bigger things to celebrate.

      I hope you start to feel better soon

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  1. Feeling similar with regards to not wanting to be making people worry etc. keep going, all you can do is try, and you’re always lovely whether you’re managing to smile or not xxx

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  2. Claire you are inspiration to so many people. What you’re doing is beyond any help that others who have experienced the pain of mental illness will ever give. All I see on Instagram and tumbler are pro Ana obsessed people wanting the illness wanting to be or have the ‘glamorous’ lifestyle we know is not. But you’re really right about speaking out biting the bullet. I just did because of this post so that’s one person out a I expect hundreds ur blog effects. Be happy for the right reason don’t fake it. Think of all the things u bless others with- let that make u happy babe xxxxxxxxxxx

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  3. I’m so sorry that you’re going through such a hard time lately. Hopefully the dark times will lift and the light will be there waiting for you, for better days ahead. Thinking of you xo

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  4. Thank you for being brave enough to talk about it. I am recovering from depression and have recently relapsed and am having a really hard time. I’m really scared. I’ve been hiding away because it’s all I can face and I know that my family and my boyfriend are worried sick about me but I don’t know what else I, or they, can do. I hope it passes soon and I hope yours does too. Don’t ever give up xx

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  5. Hang on in there you,re a beautiful soul in that awful place we,d never wish on our worst enemy you are really courageous speaking out Wishing you strength & Love on your journey hope you feel stronger soon x

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  6. Hang on in there you,re a beautiful soul in that awful place we,d never wish on our worst enemy you are really courageous speaking out Wishing you strength & Love on your journey hope you feel stronger soon xu

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It means a lot to me that you’re brave enough to. I too suffer from a mental health condition, but although I’m not cured I am well and have been for over 10 years now.

    I’m able to live a normal life now thank goodness. I’ve been to hell and back three times and I hope and pray I never will again.

    I know it’s a cliche but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m proof of that.

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  8. Dear Claire, I have known both the best ever and worst ever mental health this year. Running a half marathon for a mental health charity and raising £2k to not being able to see another day two months later. Such vast highs and lows are cruel. I am in a good place now, with a consistent mood. It hurts every day to work at it. Please keep talking. Language is vital. Don’t stop speaking up and telling people how you feel. We create ripples of positive change each time we inform someone of our condition. If you help just one other person seek professional help, your words become invaluable. Keep strong. Richard.

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  9. “I won’t let this illness rob me” – that’s what I tell myself too, because I’m sick of lying down and allowing it to take away my job, my relationships, and wiping out the joy and colour of every day. It’s my battle cry, and it’s yours too. I’m so glad to see you write those words, because it means you’re coming back. Courage xx

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  10. Wow. Well done for posting this. Absolue respect and admiration for you. Some of us (myself included) tend to paint a rosy picture of mental health, but you’re absolutely right: Relapse is part of recovery. Thanks for getting this message out there and helping those of us who struggle to acknowledge this to do so.

    You’re stronger than you probably think (cliché klaxon!). Or at least you’re far stronger than people like me, who try to think that we are strong.

    Thank you again, and hope you feel better soon 🙂

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  11. I love you. I love you for speaking the truth for so many people. I love you for knowing what it’s like to want so badly to be better, but still struggle with harming what you know is so sacred. I love your courage for posting this. I love how much you will touch people struggling with the same feelings. I love that you are continuing the conversation of mental health. I wish nothing but the best for you. I love you.

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