"Take off the Mask" is a campaign originated after the publishing of (Waterproof Mascara). The purpose to write "Waterproof Mascara" burned me in my dreams; it taunted me, even. For years I'd been told, "GURL, you NEED to write a book!" "You could write a book with all of these stories."
Some were inspiring, sure.. but others humbling and extremely humiliating. I was absolutely terrified.
Scared out of my mind to, not only, attempt at writing something decent enough people would be interested in reading but also to share something personal for fear of vulnerability or scrutiny.
I was afraid to tell my story.
I started writing Waterproof Mascara four years before I got serious about writing it. After that, it took about six months. Published. Manic.
I'll never forget the moment I knew this was more than I could concept, broke down and put pen to paper: I was in the car... riding shot-gun, speeding down an interstate in Alaska. I grabbed a pad from the luggage on the floor board and wrote every thought about every emotion flushing around in my head. I continued to write until I was finished...
Knowing, I HAD to get it out. I HAD TO. I had no one, I felt vulnerable enough to turn to for guidance, strength.. empowerment. No one could give me advice, they had a difficult time empathizing.
I didn't understand why. I didn't understand what was so off balanced.
I just kept going. Living an unbelievably epic life of adventure laced in turmoil.
Until, I dropped my basket.
I was the picture perfect "True Love Waits" blonde headed, blue eyed cheerleader. Straight "A" student; Keywanette. Never got in trouble, too bad. All American.
Your Story. Your Triumph .
Behind the facade, I harbored a harsh pain of my secret weight of depression and anxiety. I was an angry child, an anxious child. I have experienced more trauma than I care to relive in order to explain.
The amount of stress I was undergoing became more than I was mentally able to process, healthily.
When you think of Depression, one doesn't normally associate it with someone you know or love... much less, yourself.
My depression swallowed me whole.
I lost all ability to take care of my own basic needs. I wasn't able to get out of bed. The weight of life, along with circumstances I was undertaking became too heavy for me to hold and my brain went numb. I couldn't function.
Everyone around me knew I was drowning, but no one knew how to help me....so.....they just ignored it.
I went a little over 3 weeks without showering. Didn't brush my hair, couldn't bring myself to brush my teeth. I wore the same jeans and hoodie repeatedly, day after day... begging anyone to reach out and remind me how to stand. Show me how to balance and regain my strength; my self-worth.
Have you ever stepped on an ant and scraped it across the pavement; maybe thinking it's supposed to kill it?
Sometimes it does... but sometimes....
The ant doesn't die.
It takes the hit.
It shakes until it regains it's balance..
.... over and over again.
Until, it can't anymore.
If you were to unzip my skin, that's what my insides would look like; constantly.
A giant gray scribble of static and anxiety.
I lost the ability to "feed myself". I lost the ability to look at my reflection in the mirror and see past the darkness depression had painted over my shine. I was blank. Blank and unimportant. Unnecessary. A burden.
I made it to the peek of hypomania when I felt this life was better without me in it. My children could have a better life without me in it.
I had a plan.
My legs were covered in scars from razorblades demanding I show emotion. Anything.
Fight, Casie. Fight. Get up, you MUST get up. You MUST conquer this. You MUST.
Years of therapy, including a mental vacation in the psych ward, concluded this would be a battle I would need to be prepared to fight every day.
Taking each and every day as it came... one single day at a time. Somedays taking it hour by hour.
My recovery started with steps so small and minuet, yet vital to my stability.
My therapist gave me an assignment to call and leave her a voicemail each time I took a shower.
A shower... Something so overwhelming to think about having to undertake... yet, so invigorating to experience.
Stepping into the warmth of the water streaming from the overhead, washing my filth and sadness way. Relaxing me... holding me with it's cleanliness and peace. Solitude.
I can remember the first shower, after our understanding, stepping on the ceramic floor as the warm water poured down over me, thinking, "why... why don't I do this more often. This is wonderful." Then I sat down, knees to chest, as I cried and cried until I had no more tears left to produce. The shower engulfed my humiliation, cradling me in an umbrella of camouflage that would hide my weeping as a good "soul cleansing".
Slow and steady, my record of going showerless started to decrease. I began bathing twice a week... then 4 days a week, then every other day...
Before I knew it, I was taking the extra step of blow drying my hair... then shaving...
I stabilized a routine of brushing my teeth and sure enough, one day I found the energy to do my make up.
Coordinating my outfits.
I didn't realize others took notice until they began to compliment me on my style;
something I had forgotten I had.
I learned to own those compliments. ACCEPT them.
People don't come up to you and tell you "those are great shoes," or "your hair looks great today," if they're not true. I, for one, don't waste my time to personally go to a stranger and handout false compliments. Accepting those simple statements had to be the most uncomfortable redirection of mental filtration I needed to learn to direct. Owning and accepting my self worth, no matter how flawed I saw myself...
My junior year of high school, my Spanish teacher presented me a challenge I never forgot, yet, I didn't apply to my life until this point... the point I figured, "it couldn't hurt to give a shot."
Naked, I stared at myself in the mirror. I stood there, ashamed and in all my glory, mandating myself to find one thing about myself that made me beautiful. ANY "one" thing. Find one thing that you love about yourself, physically. Day in and day out, each time I stood in front of that mirror, I forced myself to find one more thing to add to the list of my uniqueness; no matter how big or how small the physical attribute was. One more thing to place of the list of why I mattered and what I had to offer.
Self-Care and Photography are my two favorite passions, so I thought... “Why not combine the two?"
Our mission is to create a charity hosting a once-a-year convention giving world wide Makeup Artists/ Stylists and Photographers wanting to expand their freelance hours and portfolios the opportunity to participate in transforming a life. The variety of art perspectives will enhance the opportunity to show beauty in a multitude of forms. This convention will be open to anyone diagnosed with a mental illness, specifically targeting depression, giving them the gift of life, once again with a photo-shoot and mini-makeover.
Get Involved. Take off the Mask.
“Change the Face of Depression”