Hiding Behind a Mask – Emlyn

Panic. It is a sensation we have all had before and it can be caused by a lot of different things. Yesterday, while everyone in class was plastering each other’s faces for masks as a creative art project that sort of tied into what we are learning, I got to experience panic,and not for the first time in my life. Ever since it had been announced in class that we were moulding plaster masks to our faces I had been feeling kind of apprehensive. To be honest it wasn’t actually as bad as I feared. I don’t think I have ever been particularly bothered by tight spaces or anything but while my mask was setting, I found out what it was like. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed creating the mask myself, but when it was my turn to lie there for twenty minutes while the plaster was hardening onto my face it was difficult to stay relaxed, to say the least.  Unfortunately for my sudden case of claustrophobia, during the time Jen was doing my mask the calming music ended, so I was left waiting silently for the plaster to set and my facial confinement to end. Well to tell you the truth, it wasn’t completely silent. I could hear voices around me but, in a way, that only added to the creepiness. It felt odd not being able to talk or even see. At first it was almost peaceful but then as time dragged on my anxiety grew and it seemed like I had been lying there for much longer than twenty minutes. I kept trying to lie still and forget about the plaster stuck to my face on top of a layer of (really helpful) Vaseline.  I had no idea what was going on around me and it was definitely unsettling.


Anyone else in the class that shared my distress at the experience can imagine my relief when my sight and ability to speak were suddenly restored. As soon as the mask was taken off my face, and I could see that my eyebrows and eyelashes remained safely attached to my face, my agitation vanished almost immediately. I’m glad that the panic I was feeling only stayed for a short while of time and once it was gone I could fully appreciate the interesting experience. It was a strange feeling, to be cut off from the rest of the world. I could only communicate through hand gestures, head shakes, and nods which wasn’t at all effective. I disliked not being able to respond to or talk to anyone even while I could hear them moving around me. I’ll admit that I kind of liked seeing how my mask looked when it was taken off.  Anyway, I will certainly enjoy painting my mask and finishing the rest of the project, as long as no wet plaster comes near my face ever again.

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