How do you NOT mask around people?

  1. No clue either. Ive realized after a year of therapy my entire identity and self is one giant mask to cover a long series of issues including ADHD i was never diagnosed for as a child. Trying not to care and worry about masking, self authenticity, etc. is kinda going somewhere, but like theres a reason i started masking in the first place, and thats because im not a particularly functional person or that great to be around if i dont watch myself like a parent with a sugar high toddler. I hope someone posts with something constructive lol

  2. I’m still trying to figure out who the fuck I actually am without all of the masking. Sometimes it feels like that’s all I am. I’m terrified of showing my true self, even though I seem very open & honest about my mental health from the outside (it’s really just the shit I can’t hide).

  3. You know what is so, deeply validating though? When that shit you really cant hide slips out and the person youre with is like Fucking SAME! And they relate so hard or they tell you their own little shit and suddenly something that felt shameful or isolating, ceases to be so, because if this person im speaking to, this absolute angel, this cool and acceptable human™ is also like that, then maybe i, too, am cool and acceptable, and have not commited a cardinal sin because i sometimes struggle with stuff

  4. Please don’t judge me, but ironically I wish I was better at masking, for all the reasons you listed: easier social interaction, protecting from scorn etc.

  5. I was really good at it, but me being good consisted of me being quiet, only give answers when questions are asked, smile constantly, always be happy, don't get "weird" when people touch me without asking, don't ask for anything u need/want otherwise u will seem aggressive or antagonistic......

  6. I love this. Something i noticed too is how much more wholly you accept flaws in others once you accept your own. Like superficially although they look the same, "not judging because im not perfect either, and i wouldn't want to be a hypocrite or be judged myself if i was in their position so i shouldnt make them feel bad because then id feel guilty" Feels different from "Not judging because i understand that incredibly human feeling/believe their experience and dont assign moral value to it. It just is 🤷🏽‍♀️"

  7. I love being around other adhd people! I feel like they can match my energy. Bonus if they are aware and understanding that our quirks put as at odds sometimes. My bf is adhd and understands me, never tries to change me. Every other bf has tried to find way to fix my adhd-ness (more clean, more on-time, why am I so complacent, couldn’t understand my emotions etc). With current bf as long as I treat him with respect he lets me be ❤️

  8. I don’t have a therapist so please take my advice with a grain of salt and check with a professional, but I am trying to change one small thing at a time. For example right now I am working on being comfortable asking people to repeat directions. I used to just say ok sure yup and then as soon as the person walked away I had no idea what they asked me to do. Now I ask them to hold on a second while I write it down. Even though I am writing down things that other people can remember easily, and it makes me feel like people must think I’m an idiot, I feel more in control now. And of course people don’t think I am an idiot, they seem to think I have so much to do that I need to write things down to stay organized. So my workload has actually decreased slightly in the office as they think I must be stressed 😂 I couldn’t drop the mask in one go, taking small bites of the elephant is working though.

  9. It’s funny bc when I was working on that same skill it turned out that my peers needed to ask the same questions and either didn’t think of it or were too self-conscious to ask and needed to hear another peer ask in order to express their need.

  10. That’s a really good tip! I think I’ve been doing similar in terms of trying to speak up in a café or shop or salon or something if something isn’t actually what I asked for. Usually I’d just be like “yeah great!” to avoid the conflict or panic or perceived awkwardness and then hate myself immediately afterwards and be full of regret, like saying “sorry I actually asked for orange juice not apple juice”, or when they test the nail polish on one nail in a manicure and ask you if the colour’s okay, saying “actually I’m not a fan of that colour now it’s on, could I pick another one?”. I try to remind myself that it’s not awkward or demanding, there’s a reason they’re asking, and the employees won’t be offended, they probably hear unreasonable demands from time to time and this isn’t one of them! It’s really difficult though.

  11. Unmasking Autism is a new book with exercises designed to help stop masking and I'd bet it's work for ADHD masking too.

  12. I had a convo with my therapist about masking yesterday. It mostly was around how the medication I’m on is making it easier for me to talk which is scary and new to me since my mask is typically someone who doesn’t talk.

  13. I’ve started thinking of myself as a chameleon, but also trying to bring out my true self a bit more. It’s hard tho cause all those little bits of me ARE me… but it’s like the Nerd Girl comes out more around nerdy friends. Backpacking hiker crunchy granola girl comes out some other days with other friends. Elegant woman who goes to the opera? Skilled rally driver? Slightly stoned snowboarder? Horse girl? Reclining watercolor artist? They’re all part of me.

  14. So - is this a common thing for people with ADHD? I'm really new to the strong suspicion that I have it (at 50 years old). I've always wondered why I take on the traits of whoever I'm spending time with and never really know who I am. It usually doesn't bother me since I just choose not to think about it but sometimes it does. Like, shouldn't I have my own set personality and hobbies, etc?

  15. I wonder if breaking it down by specific masking behaviors and working on those would be helpful. In what ways do you mask? What are the behaviors you’re suppressing or masking, and what do you “cover them up” with? Thinking about it in terms of those nuts and bolts might give you an idea of where to start.

  16. I honestly don’t know who I am, it feels like my whole life is a mask. I want to stop caring what people think of me but I don’t know how to stop. On top of that I recently came to the realization that my antidepressants (can’t seem to find ADHD meds that work for me…) dull the feeling of wanting to die but they also dull the other side of the spectrum: joy. It’s very rare I am joyful or happy or even genuinely laugh (not the nervous, let’s fill space with laughter noise).

  17. For me it's been a lifelong learning curve. I realized at 14 that my peers were never gonna like me regardless of what clothes i wore or what music i listened to. It took well over a decade before I started to truly feel comfortable and confident in my own body and mind.

  18. I've come to realise that every mask I have is made up of fragments and it just gets built based on who I'm talking to, and what energy I have that day.

  19. A way I've tried to think of it is that I'm not showing a fake side of me, but a fraction of myself that fits the scenario, and thus is being brought forth front and center. That small bit of yourself is having to fill up so much space though, like trying to blow air into a balloon, and yeah, it can leave you a bit out of breath at times if you have to keep maintaining it.

  20. I said something similar in another comment but I totally agree. My masks are made up of different bits of my personality, and I can chop and change what I choose. Sometimes I'm ashamed or let down by what I choose to let out, but I learn that I need to choose a better bit/tone it down next time so I can be more true to my core beliefs. Also choosing more parts that represent my actual feelings at that time, mean I'm less drained afterwards, but it's hard when you're a chronic people pleaser that just wants everyone to like me. 🥲

  21. I realized that it "societal pressure" is actually a bullshit way of saying "control" and I refuse to be controlled. I am... loud and messy and weird and sometimes annoying and I get really excited about stuff and really mad at things and I yell sometimes and burst into song sometimes and on and on and on. And I'm fine like this.

  22. For me it all started with my partner. She was the first person who made me feel safe to be me, and now I’m slowly starting to feel safer around my other friends (starting with her being there with me) and now I’m slowly starting to hnmask with my friends.

  23. This. I thank you so much for this post and for sharing how you feel with all of us, I can totally relate with you! Just a couple of weeks ago I've discovered how masking has affected the way people see me and my personality, and how I perceive myself too. Now I know how unapproachable and kind of scary made me look to people because I've always felt dead anxious around people, I couldn't let the real person inside, out. For me, the more I get to know myself and my deficit the better I can get out of the masking face. Meditations helped a lot to understand me better, a supportive one who is willing to talk about it without judging too

  24. I had to become okay with being alone if that’s what it was gonna be like at the time. It’s happened, and it’s painful, but also I find so much more relief being myself and lonely, than surrounded and fake. It’s not an easy choice to make, or an easy one to live out. It takes a lot of practicing to accept the you that you’ve hidden so long. For a while it feels unnatural, but keep pushing through cause when you finally find yourself in there you’ll never wanna give yourself up again.

  25. I only "un-mask" (I think, because I have zero clue who I actually am) in front of a small handful of people. I've just put less effort into my masking over the years, and have done this by avoiding excessive human interaction.

  26. Omg thank you for this so much, I am fucking good at it too. The pandemic made me see How much I mask and I was shocked. Man it’s exhausting and feels like armor that is so hard to take off. Damn near impossible.

  27. Well… for one, I give way less fucks than I used to. I also work in a corporate environment (even though it’s remote, so, while I let little bits of my quirkiness shine through, like my love of super Mario (lol) masking has a less negative connotation for me these days because I think of it as “not everyone gets access to me at my most animated, unfiltered, and relaxed.” I socialize / find the need for socialization / FOMO waaaay less than I used to. I decided quite some time ago that I don’t care if someone thinks I’m too loud or too much, or whatever, if that’s the case, fine, I’m not for everyone just like they’re not for everyone 🙃☺️

  28. I’m focusing on my fear of negative reactions which is where my masking comes from. I am a hardcore pleaser. So I try and think about what situations I expect negative reactions.. expression my opinion, asking someone to repeat themselves, being silent when I feel like it, not holding a perpetual smile.. one thing at a time but sometimes usually just any little thing when I can remember. It’s slow going but I have seen a little progress. The biggest thing I’ve realised is my flat tone of voice that people mistake as being moody. But they will have to get used to that just being me.

  29. I turned 40 and managed to stay sober during a global pandemic. Those things literally caused me to be unable to mask anymore. I wish I could mask better sometimes, like I did my whole life. I'm too burnt out and exhausted to be able to anymore. It's awkward at times.

  30. I don't even know who I am anymore, I change my personality depending on who I hang out with. What breaks me a little is if I get really excited and stop masking in front of my mum, she basically tells me to stop acting so excited and learn to stop showing my emotions, which is her essentially telling me to mask..

  31. Starts with learning to love who you are. Then slowly learning to love that person more than the masks or people you mask for. I personally eventually just had no desire to mask. It also helps to surround yourself with the right people and cut out the wrong ones or at least distance yourself.

  32. So this sounds like giving myself permission to do what is healthy and helpful for me even when it may not feel safe. I have never considered that maybe I could make a space more safe for me by being more honest in it. Still working it out.

  33. My understanding is that masking is a protective coping skill we learned in response to childhood trauma to feel acceptable with our family, friends, social groups.

  34. I have to pretend I'm happy and that my parents didn't cause me tons of trauma and continue to lie to me and I live with them.

  35. It has helped me to have found a career that involves zero customer/public interaction so I can conserve and redirect my social energy towards friends, possible new friends, and my chosen family.

  36. I am always masking around people too. Yes it is really exhausting. But like you said, it makes a lot of things easier. The most I am masking is at work. If I would show my real self there, no one would be alive lol

  37. I don’t know honestly, I think masking is a lot more subconscious and involuntary than people describe it as so I don’t really know if it’s possible! When I hear people describe masking to others who aren’t familiar with the concept I often think they make it sound like a choice to some extent, which I personally don’t think it is most of the time. Plus a lot of it is based on what you’ve learned about society over the course of your life and a catalogue of previous interactions, so it’s hard to unlearn that when your brain is used to analysing everything in that way behind the scenes.

  38. I find when trying to do something, its always served me really well to focus on what i want rather than what i want to avoid. I understand that you want to stop masking but i guess im looking for more specifics on what it is that you are trying to do instead.

  39. For me it was a slow metamorphosis. My masking is typically centred around doing everything I can not to make other people feel criticised, so I am agreeable to a fault. It's exhausting. so i started very gradually to unwork the mechanism:

  40. God yes, I relate to this SO much. Especially at work, where I spend the majority of my time... I've found that there are certain people and friends where I can be 100% my true self, and most of them happen to also have ADHD. Spending time with them every now and then (hard because I'm an introvert and literally just forget I can ask to hang out with people) refreshes me and gives me a break. It's like therapy, getting to connect with myself again. And build this relationship at the same time. Having a partner I live with who I'm myself with is also really helpful but it's definitely a privilege.

  41. I never learned how to mask, and I’ve been bullied and labeled as “weird” my whole life, even as a 24 year old adult. I wish I could figure out how to do it,

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