While the signs may not be as clear as, say, a broken bone, it is possible to see the sheer impact of mental health issues by looking said individual straight in the eyes.
Like with myself, not all those experiencing mental health issues bear the ability to open up, preferring to mask the issues with various coping mechanisms, both healthy and unhealthy.
As humans, though, none of us are invincible, and, soon enough, the cracks will start to show. After all, we can only remain so strong for so long, and our eyes speak the emotions that we are trying so hard to suppress.
I have never been a fan of taking ‘selfies’, both due to dissociation and the fact that I hate the way I look. However, for the purpose of this blog I have chosen to share two: one taken while my mood was more elevated, and another taken four days ago while experiencing severe depression.
As you can probably see, I have 50 shades of bags under my eyes and red eye itself, both from crying and rubbing them through exhaustion. My skin is blotchy, I’m not wearing any makeup, and my hair is scraped back through lack of energy and care in doing it. I also look ‘vacant’, with my eyes lacking the sparkle that’s clear in the first photograph. I climbed straight into bed soon after taking this, where I have remained ever since.
While mental health professionals have often commented on how I always appear well-presented, showered with clean hair and clean clothes, they fail to see the pain and exhaustion on my face, the side of me that has just about given up, though is still fighting. I wish that I could present the inner me, the Belle that is being suffocated by a cloud of darkness and struggling to see a way out, but leaving the house is difficult enough without feeling uncomfortable with and paranoid about what I am wearing After all, it is apparent that many will notice your attire before the pained expression that you’re carrying around like a ball and chain.
So try to make it your mission to read your loved ones’ expressions, to look beyond the mask . They may appear to be taking pride in their appearance, new clothes and full makeup, but what you see as a sign of contentment may instead be a mask for inner turmoil.