I am like everyone in that I want to look polished, chic, slender, and the rest of the laundry list. My list of insecurities ranks as one of the lengthiest of its kind since middle school. I don’t feel ugly, most of the time, but I do feel way less than what I’d like. I feel weak because of all the time I spend bed ridden, I feel unaccomplished because of the things that I end up unable to do, I feel in pain because of what PTSD does to my muscles.

So I carefully choose my “face”. Online, I try to be positive and not complain too much. I try to be funny, helpful, fresh-faced, and I try to not look as sick as I actually am. I use filters, angles, lighting, and of course several attempts at the right shot before I post a picture. It’s me, but not really.

I don’t wear makeup often because it takes me long enough to get ready. But I do use plenty of tricks to look, “better”. All the pictures above are my best presentations of the moment.  I don’t want my dark circles to show or my uneven skin, I don’t want it to show when I’m slouching because my lower back hurts or I’ve strained one of my muscles again and yet,

I write a blog about how transparent I want to be. 

I spend so much time covering up my illness, to what? To get a few more likes because no one can see that I haven’t slept right in years? To hide that I’ve been crying so much my cheeks are broken out? So that people can’t see that I’m sick?

What is the point in challenging a norm just to expend energy conforming to it?

I’ve posted a couple shots before of what I look like in bed, exhausted, drained from dissociating or having nightmares and few people even seem to notice. But I put on a cute dress? People notice.

Mental Illness lives in a constant tension between wanting to be seen for its reality and wanting to hide because it can camouflage itself in a way other diseases can’t. We have to be willing to show each other what we look like at our worst if we ever want to live in a world where we can be our best.

I’m not going to recover from my mental illness. It will become manageable. One day, I may not even have to take medication, but even then however much I get better, I will always be ill. It doesn’t define me but it does play a huge role in my life, why should I hide it, like a shameful thing?

Here I am:

(I may have edited these pictures, but there will be more to come! Yikes!)

Show your support for others by being transparent. You aren’t alone in feeling like you have to look on the outside a way you don’t feel on the inside.

Post a picture of yourself un-doctored, because haven’t you had quite enough of doctors? Write your first name and the name of your disorder. You can follow this form and swap out my information for yours:

My name is Cathy. I have DiD. I am not DiD. But I am beautiful. #mentalillnessunfiltered

Use the hashtag #mentalillnessunfiltered and tag me (@caffysupernova). Share this idea with your friends and family, you never know who may need to see this.

Remember, no editing and no filters!

With your permission I’ll post the pictures to our Facebook page, Rethink Trauma, and once we have enough, I’ll make a gallery on here so that you can see others who are joining the movement.

There is no shame in being ill and there is beauty in being honest.



Collages created with the Photo Grid app

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