Mental & Emotional Health

Take Off Your Mask of Depression

The tragic death of Robin Williams has stirred up so much conversation about depression, a difficult topic but one that is underappreciated for its seriousness and its effects on so many people. I have heard several interviews with his friends, and they all said at least one thing in common: Robin was always “on,” trying to make everyone happy, bringing laughter to the world, focused on giving 150% no matter what the cost was to himself. He hid his own insecurities behind the mask that the world knew so well, burying anxiety and fear of failure so we wouldn’t know he was human, just like the rest of us.

I talk to many women who feel the same way. We think we have to be all things to all people, while appearing like we have everything together—our looks, our homes, our careers, our social life. We are afraid to let down the curtain to be vulnerable and transparent. We think it is a sign of weakness to ask for help, and even when we want to reach out to someone, often there is no one we trust with our insecurities. So we continue to bury our pain, fear, shame and desperate need for support until depression and isolation take over.

I encourage you—no, I implore you—to be your authentic self. Not one of us is perfect! We all have our struggles in one way or another. There are husbands who cheat or are addicted to porn, children who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, dysfunctional families, friends who reject us because we don’t fit in to their groups, and careers that leave us stressed and unfulfilled. And I am amazed at the number of women who are still trying to please their mothers in midlife.

Just be you. You are a precious child of God and you are worthy.

As frightening as it may seem, it is critical to your physical and emotional health to take off your mask and let the real you stand out. If you need support, ask for it! Talk to a friend, seek the guidance of someone at your church or a licensed counselor or partner with a coach who can help you move forward toward a more purposeful, fulfilling life. The first thing I walk my clients through is shedding the heavy baggage of fear, perfectionism, self-doubt and guilt.

Just don’t allow your negative self-talk to suffocate you! The world needs your brilliant authentic presence, free from fear and doubt. Take a small step today and start peeling away that mask. Be secure and strong in who you are, and remember that all us humans are right there with you.

Susan Tolles is a Certified Christian Life Purpose Coach and the founder of

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