As a Psychology major and a girl who has been managing her mental health struggles for about five years now, I am fascinated with learning the ins and outs of mental illnesses. Some of these things I have experienced first-hand, and I have already written an article about my journey with anxiety. A major part of my anxiety, starting out and even currently, has been masking.
Masking in a psychological standpoint can have many forms and meanings. This is commonly seen as people hiding their natural personality, emotions, behaviors, or feelings of suffering as a method of conformity to society. The worst part: most people who are masking don't know it until someone else notices and mentions it. This is exactly what happened to me, and how my journey with realizing my anxiety and depression came to be.
It's important to understand why people mask in order to help them or yourself. Often times, it has to do with the internal feeling that no one will understand, or others will start to look at you differently than they used to. These feelings arise thanks to the influence of social media and news outlets, who portray people who are struggling with their mental health as odd men out. Masking can also be influenced by a lack of knowledge on the subject, as with any mental health disorder.
But how can we tell if someone is masking? That's the tricky part, you can't really tell when someone us putting up this type of wall until their status becomes so weak that they can't maintain it. However, talking to your friends and checking in will give you insights to how they're doing and may just tell you how you can help.
Please remember, though, that we don't mask to shut you out. We mask as a method of protecting ourselves from ridicule and the "walk it off" type of comments we receive. If we trust you, we will open up. But you can't expect us to be super trusting right off the bat. Patience is key, and mental health matters just as much as physical health.