The Mask by Madi Rummel

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

*Trigger Warning* Depression

She woke up each morning with tear-stained cheeks

after crying herself to sleep for weeks.

She rolled out of bed and looked in the mirror,

afraid that she would see her worst fear.

Before anyone could have the chance to ask,

she stood up straight and put on her mask.

The outside of the mask holds a perfect smile,

though she’s been hurting inside for a while.

The purpose of the mask is to hide what she’s feeling,

to protect a mind and heart that’s healing

from day after day of insisting, “I’m fine,” 

while the twinkle in her eye slowly loses its shine.

She goes to school and her smile gleams,

she’s a perfect girl, or so it seems.

“You’re always so happy,” is what they say,

though they’ve never walked in her shoes for a day.

She goes to work with her mask on tight

until the end of the day is in sight.

She trudges home and walks through the door,

peeling off the mask that she wore.

She goes back to the mirror and looks into her eyes,

as they continue to tell her lies.

They tell her that she is alone

with no one calling on her phone.

They tell her that she isn’t strong,

though she can’t admit they’re wrong.

They tell her that she isn’t brave,

despite the impression that she gave.

They tell her that she isn’t tough

and that she isn’t quite enough.

She rubs her hands across her face

wishing someone else would take its place.

Inside her mind, it feels so dark,

where depression has made its mark.

It seems to have the magic touch

on a fragile heart that feels too much.

She slowly crawls into her bed

while words are swarming in her head.

She doesn’t want to feel so low,

more than anyone will ever know.

Hours pass and she goes to sleep,

wishing for peaceful dreams to keep.

Tossing and turning throughout the night,

waking at the morning light.

She rubs the thick fog from her eyes,

evidence from when she cries.

Preparing for the usual task,

she gets out of bed and grabs the mask.

Ready for the impending fight,

she hangs onto the mask so tight.

Then suddenly, it starts to slip,

falling downward from her grip.

Down it goes and hits the sink,

faster than it takes to blink.

She picks it up and feels a crack,

running deep from front to back.

Realizing what this means,

she grabs the glue from where it leans

and tries to fix the broken smile

that’s protected her inside a while.

As she begins to lose all hope,

she starts to wonder how she’ll cope.

Voices swarm inside her head,

something that she’s come to dread. 

As the stream of voices flows,

they belong to people that she knows.

“You’re beautiful,” comes from her best friend,

a message that she’d often send.

“You are smarter than you know,”

a voice of a friend from long ago.

“You’re stronger than you’ve been believing,”

from a grandma she’d lost whom she’s still grieving.

“You’re brave and you can do hard things,”

from her aunt that’d gained her wings.

“You’re a phenomenal woman,” said her favorite teacher,

“and your kind heart is your very best feature.”

Their voices lighter than a feather

as they began to melt together.

“You’re smart, brave, beautiful, and strong,

and we’ve known it all along.

Your heart is kind, we know it’s true,

now it’s your turn to believe in you.”

She wondered if this was a dream,

or maybe she’s just crazy, it’d seem.

“But what if they’re right?” she had to ask,

“What if I don’t need my mask?”

For the first time in forever, she looked at her face

with a newfound love and grace.

Even though it would be strange,

she had some habits she needed to change.

Carefully, but in a dash,

she threw her mask into the trash.

It’d be a difficult journey to begin,

but she felt her lips form into a grin.

She decided it was time to start

to mend her tender mind and heart.