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“I thought it was better to put on a mask and pretend that everything was fine and pretend to be strong,” Hassler said. “Once I took off that mask and started to be vulnerable and really honest about the fact that I didn’t know who I was, then things started to change.”

I’ve been back here in M since last Thursday and have felt significantly different as compared to when I’m at home. The day I left, I had mixed emotions which made me slightly confused because I’ve been looking forward to my freedom again. I was fighting back tears throughout my journey. When I was finally alone in my room, I broke down. It was that rush of emotions I have kept pent up inside my chest for the past few weeks that was finally released and tears poured out unstoppably like a broken floodgate.

I think when I finally feel like it’s safe to be myself, I was able to remove that mask I’ve been putting on at home. I’m forced to act like everything is fine, all smiley and happy when deep inside I’m actually sad and angry. If I show that I’m unhappy, my mom would usually lash at me. I was afraid to cry at home because she might hear and ask me why. I feel safe to express whatever I’m feeling here.

The past few days I realised that despite meeting up with a few good friends, I still had that feeling like something is wearing me down. Today was one of the difficult days because it was hard to get out of bed. I just wanted to curl up underneath the blanket and forget my troubles. What Hassler said is true about removing the mask and starting to feel honest about ourselves – that you start realising that underneath that façade we show the world, what exactly are you feeling underneath? Are we that person we portray to others? Or are we just trying to cover up for underlying pain which we choose to not address now?

I’m feeling damn shitty lately but so far no counsellor/clinical psychologist has called me back about setting up an appointment. Honestly, I feel lost about what to do next. I have a few options but time is against me at the moment. I can’t help but feel dejected. I didn’t know it’s so difficult to get hold of a mental health professional especially when I need it the most now.

Why it’s okay to admit that you are not okay