Master of the Mask
For those of you who have made your way over to this site, you may be wondering who I am and what I am about. I thought I would take my fingers to the keys and let you know more about me, and WHY I finally decided to take a risk and do this. Doing something like this may not be a risk for you, but getting real with others is a big step of faith for me.
In 2011, I was the master of the mask. To everyone around me, I had it all together. I was a “happy” wife, “joyful” mommy, “listening” friend, “worship leader”, “encourager” to all. To many on the outside, I was “perfect.”
However, on the inside, it was a different story. I was slowly dying inside and wanted NO ONE to know. In my head, it would hurt too many people around me if they knew what was really going on in my heart. I did not want them to be ashamed of me, and honestly, I didn’t want to let anyone down. I had given them this perfect picture, how could I change it now?
I even thought if I took my mask off, I would let God down too. I loved God…I loved finally getting to serve alongside my husband and lead people in worship. I was terrified if I let others know my struggles, I wouldn’t get to lead worship anymore. I just continued to push it all down and make the mask even prettier.
Here Come the Elephants
Around February of 2011, I was having a strange feeling in my chest. It was like a herd of elephants were jumping up and down on me and I could not breathe. I would just freeze in my tracks. I thought I was dying every single time these elephants would come and bounce on my chest and then, they would leave and that feeling would leave. I thought I was going crazy having this feeling and I didn’t want anyone to know about it. Like…what if something was wrong with me? What if I went to a doctor and they told me something was really wrong? What if they told me I was crazy?
So instead of seeking help, I pretended like everything was perfect. While trying to “be” perfect, I was also trying to “look” perfect physically. In doing this, I was starving my body and depleting it from every nutrient that it needed. I was eating maybe 500 calories a day, working out with weights too heavy for my body weight 1-2 hours a day, and drinking several gallons of water (yes gallons) every day. I had been eating and drinking water like this for probably a year. It was finally catching up to me and my body was freaking out! I still would not listen.
April of 2011, we went on a huge family trip to Disney World. As you get to know me, you will learn that Disney World is our favorite place to go! This trip would be my oldest daughter’s first time to go. She was 2 1/2 years old and she can still remember some moments from this trip.
A couple of weeks after we returned home, a tragic tornado raced through my home state of Alabama. My husband was in Cullman working when it hit. I was home with my daughter while she was napping. Many lost their lives that day and destruction were all around us. It affected me more than I wanted anyone to know and scared me big time. Once again, that mask of perfection was sealed tight and I was “ok”.
What Is Wrong With Me?
No one knew the fear and anxiety raging inside of me. Finally, in June of that year, I exploded.
The elephants were back, and this time, they had brought friends! I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. I sat sobbing, frozen in fear. Finally, I bit the bullet and took myself to our doctor with my two-year-old in tow. I got there and I had finally lost it.
I was trying to keep it together in front of my child, but I just couldn’t anymore. I was crying, she was crying. They bring out the EKG machine right as my husband arrives. I am now just a shell of who I was. He takes my daughter out and the doctor finally comes in.
The Doctor Shared the News
He says, “Mrs. Snider, your heart is fine. You are having a severe anxiety attack.”
I was shocked! I didn’t believe him. I didn’t think anxiety attacks were real. I didn’t think depression was real. I thought it was just fake, or a way for people to feel sorry for themselves and to get attention. I begin to learn how wrong I really was.
From that point on, life got very scary, very sad, and very dark all at one time and I couldn’t stop it. I was afraid to leave the house, afraid to eat, afraid to sleep, afraid to let anyone know what was happening…not even my husband.
Commercials on tv would freak me out or make me break out into uncontrollable crying. I would go to Wal-Mart and look for all-natural medication to help with anxiety or depression simply because I did not want to admit I needed help to anyone.
I really thought to let people know I needed help meant I had failed them and I was so ashamed. In reality, I had not failed anyone, and if you are feeling that way, know you haven’t failed anyone either.
The simplest way I can put this…it was hell on earth for me for a long time.
It was real. Depression and anxiety are very real things. If you are going through them, you are not alone.
Anxiety and Depression Are Real
If you know someone going through them, they are struggling and they are terrified to tell you because they don’t want to let you down or bring shame into your life… or so depression tells them if they speak out and get help.
God never once, as His Word says, never left me. He never forsook me. He was with me in the dark pit. He was with me when I hit rock bottom and wanted to leave this earth because everyone around me would be better off. He was with me when I finally started to look up. It brings tears to my eyes to think depression almost stole my life. It brings more tears to my eyes because it does steal the life of many.
I finally admitted I needed help. I finally started doing things to get better.
So why did I share all of this? I shared all of this to let you know, I am keeping my mask off and sharing my life because your life is worth it. I want you to know that you are full of purpose and you aren’t the only one with scars and struggles. If you are a human and walking on this earth, you have struggles. Not everyone wants to admit that, but I will raise both hands in the air to admit I do.
I am not ashamed to admit those things anymore because God reminded me that He sent Jesus to this earth knowing we could not handle this life alone. He knew we needed a Friend, a Savior, a Healer, a Restorer, a Redeemer, a Hope Giver, to walk this journey and to overcome.
He Has Created You For A Purpose
He has created you PurposeFULL and the only way we can reach our FULL purpose is to take off the mask and be all He created us to be. It is scary to get real, even risky. I am learning that it is totally worth the risk. It is totally worth that faith step!
I hope you will continue to join me and grow with me. I don’t have it all together that is for sure, but I am no longer where I was. I hope these blogs will help you grow and help you see the hope we have in Him.
Feel free to share this with anyone and everyone! When you are ready to take your mask off, even if it is scary, do it anyway…do it afraid!
I am standing here with you cheering you on!