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All I wanted

Guest Author: Kevin

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

From a very young age I knew there was something wrong with my brain.

I think I was about 13 years old.

At first, I thought there was just something wrong with me. I wasn’t good enough, smart enough or athletic enough. I wasn’t attractive or lovable. There was something black inside me and I wasn’t really worthy of being loved.

I wanted someone to notice me.

I did not share this with anyone. No one.

At 13, all I wanted was to fit in. I wanted to have the confidence everyone else seemed to have. I wanted to be able to ask girls out. I wanted to be on a school team. I wanted someone to notice me and tell me they love me and care for me. Anyone!

Everyone else seemed to have fun in life yet I lived behind a mask. This mask looked like a normal teenage boy on the outside. Probably a little goofy looking, awkwardly tripping over feet that had grown too fast for the coordination to keep up.

If you could peel this mask off, and turn it around, and read the words I saw from the inside it read the following:

My Mask
I’m afraid to let you
See through my mask.
To remove it just once
Is an unbearable task.

Look around it
See from behind.
It starts to loosen
With a work that is kind.

It has a smooth surface
And seems quite secure.
But hiding behind
Is a man quite unsure.

In confusion and fear
beneath it I live.
To conquer the loneliness
Anything I’d give.

To remove my mask
All you must do
Is show me that
You love me too.

I feel like the prince
Who looks like the frog.
The outside is fake
You must cut through the fog.

A simple kiss
Will set the prince free.
But it must be true
And include honesty.

See through my mask
Look deep inside.
In there I’m hurting
‘Cause I’ve never cried.

– written April 16, 1979. Grade 11. My birthday is April 17.

– shared with nobody….at that time

Comments

Phoenix
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All I can say is that I get it all too well. I could have written that myself. I don’t know when my depression and anxiety first started but I honestly don’t remember life without it.

Georgie
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Sad but beautiful poem!! I hope he has found peace , strength and love!❤️

KevThomas
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Thanks for the comment Phoenix,
It sure has been a roller coaster ride…living in my brain. I wrote that poem 40 years ago this month. Somehow I periodically get stuck again at the bottom of the roller coaster and it seems impossible to get out. I had been doing great for over two years and it got me again in January this year.

Three key strategies I have learned to practice:
1. Be gentle with myself. When the internal dialogue gets nasty and frustrated, I’ve learned to override it with thoughts like, “Kevin, you are a good man” and “Kevin, you make a difference.”
2. Practice gratitude. I take a deep breath in…think of something or someone I am grateful for…then breathe out. I usually take five breaths doing this and repeat it a few times over the course of the day.
3. Permission to have a down day. Instead of getting frustrated (and increasing the anxiety) for allowing the depression and anxiety to slowly sneak up and start strangling me again, I remind myself that this is how my brain works and that I have worked-my-way-out of it before.

Be well,

KevThomas
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Thanks Georgie,

“Peace, strength and love”….what a lovely wish. Thank you.

Peace – a beautiful gift to offer. A lot of the time my brain lived in a state of “angst”. I knew I had been blessed with a wonderful life but I just felt so flat/stressed all the time. I have worked with a few Brain-Strategists (I like that better then Therapist) and have read extensively on how to live in peace in my own brain. Practicing gratitude daily works for me…most of the time. 🙂

Strength – the concept of SickNotWeak really helped me to understand that I was actually quite strong to fight through the depression/anxiety to be able to just get to work every day for over 30 years. While other people just got up and went to work, I had to fight my brain…to hold back the anxiety. I was very proud that I wasn’t “weak” and didn’t miss any work for the first 20 years…until it hit me so bad that I wasn’t able to work for 3 months. In hindsight, I wish I would have been “stronger” in the first 20 years, and reached out for help before it got so bad. Yesterday we called it “weak” to get help. Today, thanks to SickNotWeak, BellLetsTalk, HeadsTogether, BeyondBlue, etc. we know it is a sign of strength to get help.

Love – All you need is love…ba, ba,ba,ba. Starting with self-love is so important. Because we didn’t feel comfortable talking about our inner feelings and thoughts, we didn’t realize the internal damage the internal loathing/frustration was causing. Once we realize that it is not healthy to allow those thoughts to have control of our brain, then we can start to change things. I found Cognitive Behaviour Therapy was very helpful to change the internal dialogue to one of self acceptance and self-love.

Over the past few years as I’ve really opened up more with family, friends, and audiences, I’ve experienced tremendous love, support and understanding. I thought I was wearing “My Mask” pretty tightly for the last 40 years, but those who love us can actually see behind it quite well…and have been loving us in spite of our desire to hide it. So why fight it? It only makes it worse. Today, I try not to wear the mask very often and SickNotWeak provides us with a safe area to actually throw off the masks!

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