Thanks for your comment, mara byrd.
Anything prefaced with a please isn’t a command but a plea, for all our sakes, at least the way I worded it. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to tell anyone what to do, but I’ll occasionally plead when the issue is close to my heart. (Here’s another such example.)
I wasn’t aware of the term “masking” but it sadly makes perfect sense, even to a Caucasian like me. I too have been conditioned not to let anything show lest people should think less of me or should identify me as “pas comme il faut” or even crazy.
I used to think this was a specific female issue but men with mental illness are reporting a similar struggle along the lines of vulnerability not being seen as masculine and therefore shunned. It’s worse for them because, to some extent, mental illness is expected of women (and used to be derided as “hysteria”) but never of men. Brit writer Matt Haig is trying to change this, and there are many others doing similarly excellent work. Check out Mark Brown here on Medium.
As with most issues, intersectionality is key to finding solutions. My piece wasn’t consciously classist and I’m a little taken aback by your reading as I certainly don’t come from wealth or indeed privilege (well, beside the privilege of an EU education as the EU is where I’m from and we keep education accessible to all, unlike in the US). I may have white skin but am descended from immigrants (from Eastern Europe) therefore my birth country, France, never saw me as one of its own and wasn’t shy about letting me know from the moment I was old enough to go to school. Also, I’m an immigrant to the US so I stick out like a sore thumb there too the minute I open my mouth. (Brit accent and political views of the unapologetically socialist kind, which people invariably mistake for communist because they don’t know the difference.)
What you say about forfeiting your life though… To me, America is a dehumanizing, violent, and dangerous place and I experience it as such. I don’t feel safe there, not even in my own home. Becoming a US citizen did exactly nothing to change this. I can’t even begin to imagine how much worse it is when you walk around with the equivalent of a visible target on your back, like the color of your skin, your ethnicity, or both.
My husband is a Asian-American and abuse is a part of daily life he has tacitly accepted. He laughs about how people will hurl racial slurs at him in anger yet never get his ethnicity right… and it breaks my heart every single time.