We all play different roles from time to time but nobody plays more than those of us who are mentally ill. In order for us to survive in the ‘normal’ world we need exceptional acting skills. For example, there’s the role you play at work when you pretend you’re fine but you’re actually as sick as a dog but don’t want your boss to know.
There’s the weekend role you play as the life of the party even though you’d rather be at home in bed. Not forgetting the role I sometimes play of doddering old man as my medications make walking down a flight of stairs seem as dangerous as negotiating a minefield.
For me, the role of hardworking career guy is the one I find easiest. When I am working I am focused on the job at hand, not my mood. I know what I have to do and because I have done it for so long, I do it well. Even if I’m so depressed I occasionally go the bathroom to wipe away tears my day feels pretty good when I’m working hard.
Unfortunately, role-playing can be incredibly exhausting and ultimately deceitful. It has to be if it’s going to be effective. If I want my boss or a client to think I’m great the last thing I need is for them to meet the real me. So if you find playing too many roles wears you out, try playing a few less. For example, the more we can play our real selves with friends and families, the less lies we have to tell and the less exhausted we will be.
The nice thing is the more open my illness becomes socially, the easier my life becomes. I can knock back an invitation without feeling guilty or if I do attend a function when I’m feeling less than 100%, friends will be a bit more forgiving if I’m not the life of the party. The only thing you have to be careful of in such circumstances is not to play the role of the whinger or sad sack. Either way, come Monday morning, it’s on with the mask for another Oscar winning performance.
Here’s an interesting article on two of the greatest wearers of masks ever:
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