The Mask We Show Others #AtoZChallenge

The Mask We Show Others     #AtoZChallenge

Chronic illness often forces us to create a mask that we show to others. This mask allows us to hide behind it and not to reveal the true nature of how we feel on a given day. Why would we do this you ask? Well, let’s delve into that and see if we can shed some light on the topic, and the mask itself as well as what we may be hiding with it.

Regardless of how great a support system we have, we tend to hide the worst of what we are feeling to one degree or another. We try to protect those closest to us from the depths of our suffering. We may feel as if we are a burden to them, and as such decide to attempt to shield them from how horribly we really feel. We may be concerned that they are beginning to feel as if everything in the relationship (whether parental, sibling, or significant other) revolves around us. We may even feel that they would be better off without us in the aspect that they could return to some semblance of a normal life.

Regardless of your reasons, we all put on a mask at some point and for some people. I often wear a mask for the simple reason that even the most caring of friends and family must surely get tired of seeing the pain on my face or hearing how I feel as if my body has betrayed me that day. While those of us battling chronic illness have our own set of unique problems, those that care about and for us have an entirely different set of problems.

I am neither condoning nor condemning the use of a mask. I am simply pointing out that each of us will likely use a mask at some point in our battle with chronic illness. Whether we simply say “I’m tired” when what we really want to say is “I hurt so bad I can’t even begin to explain it to you”. I won’t digress into the pros, cons, or reasoning for or against the use of masks. for that is way beyond the scope of this short blog post. What I can tell you is that nearly everyone with whom I have ever come into contact uses a mask at some point and to varying degrees.

I, myself, am guilty of using a mask at times. I find myself doing this with both friends and family. If you have an invisible illness then I am willing to bet that you also make use of a mask at times. This is much more likely on the days where you may outwardly look well, but on the inside feel horribly beyond what words can even begin to describe. And you likely get tired of trying to explain the disparity between what you look like and what you feel inside.

Do you have a story to share with us about your use of a mask? Who do you show your mask to? We would love to hear it in the comments below!

14 Replies to “The Mask We Show Others #AtoZChallenge”

  1. I have a mask I use, but it’s not due to chronic pain (although I have that). It’s due to the fact that I am desperately shy and I put on my mask so I can be more outgoing. Otherwise, I’m the wallflower that never does anything and who never takes any risks. I think the mask is just the way to deal with what life you’re handed.


  2. We all wear masks to a certain extent…but they do prevent us from connecting with others. Some of the most inspiring posts I’ve seen on social media were from people opening up about their issues, only to find someone on their friends list suffers from the exact same issues.

    1. A mask can certainly prevent us from connecting with others as readily as if we did not wear one. While social media can be an option for sharing your experience, many are still reluctant to do so, and understandably so. Putting oneself out there for all to see and potentially criticize can be a challenging thing to do!

  3. We all do use a mask… A mask we have at work, a different at home, a mask we wear when we are sad but want to show people how happy we are. One would show their ‘ownself’ to the one he/she fully trusts .

    Ashmita Chatterjee

  4. I became pretty good at wearing a mask when I was going through cancer treatment (nearly 20 years ago – woohoo!). I got so sick of the people who felt duty-bound to tell me of someone else with cancer who had died a long and distressful death, so if they asked me how I was coping I would grab my mask which contained a wide grin and say, “I’m doing well thanks. Would you like some tea?” and change the subject. Happy Easter! M is for Marketing Methods as you Build a Better Blog. #AtoZchallenge.

    1. Congratulations on making it through your personal cancer challenge! Thank you for sharing your story and it is all too common to respond “I’m fine” as opposed to saying how we truly feel, for whatever the reasons. I will admit that I use one regularly depending upon the situation, surroundings, and people around me.

  5. I think wearing a mask is an essential skill if we have boundaries. Not everyone in my life is someone I’d want to tell my most intimate secrets to, because not everyone in my life is trustworthy with them. I agree that a mas isn’t good in any relationship where you want to remain close and have intimacy. That’s why it needs to be used carefully and with consideration.

    1. Very valid points on all counts. A risk vs reward decision each and every time we make the choice whether to put our mask on or leave it off. A decision that has no manual or right answers. Thanks for taking the time to both read and comment. It is definitely appreciated!

  6. Like a damn Halloween store up in here. It’s a survival technique. I’m sure the shrinks would disagree, and congrats to them for being all evolved. (The more one knows about psychological stuff, the less one seems able to connect with actuality. It’s like seeing how a world could be and then never again accepting the world that is.) Even video games are a mask, a chance to be a pixel player for a little while. Even while being chased by zombies, dinosaurs, and stolen cars– it’s still better than dealing with unfixable issues. That’s the thing with those games, they all HAVE a solution. Frustration and persistence can pay off. There’s usually even a game GUIDE. Where’s that for life? “I have absolutely no idea what’s wrong or how to help. That’ll be $350 to start, and the rest of the astronomical bill will come later.” Trade a month’s salery for nothing. How many jobs have the opportunity to end the work with giving up and still getting paid? So yeah, we also need a patient mask, because it’s hard as f*ck to look those doctors in the eye. It’s even worse for people like me who really enjoy tv medical dramas. There’s no Dr. House or McDreamy out there. Even if there was, they wouldn’t treat the tv type patients, because only the ridiculously rich could ever afford them! A mask to hide the anger from the same quitters who won’t give medical release to return to a job you honestly couldn’t perform anymore, but also will bankrupt you with bills and screw you from other routes of earning by not even giving a diagnosis.

    1. JamieFriend, you have shared a very comprehensive view of how and why we may use masks to cope with the challenges of our lives with chronic illness. Beyond the obvious medical challenges, we are often faced with financial challenges and other stressors. Having to make a conscious choice between seeking healthcare or paying our rent or buying groceries, is a choice no human being should ever have to make. In reality, it is a choice we are often faced with, and it is an impossible choice with potentially deadly consequences. I used to love to play video games, even though I was horrible at most of them. As my tremors have progressed it has become increasingly difficult and unfortunately can provide yet another stressor in the aspect of frustration. But if one is able to find any outlet that works for them, I urge each and everyone with a chronic illness to find something that helps them to escape from the constant barrage of emotions we often experience.

  7. Yes, I think everyone has masks that they need to show at some point. I was wearing one of my mine yesterday during Easter, and my dad saw right through it. I felt like I’d failed until I realized some people can’t be fooled – they just usually pretend they are for your sake.

    1. There are a small handful of people whom I cannot hide my true state from, regardless of how hard I try. As time goes on, I become increasingly able to hide many things but am far from perfect at it. You are absolutely right that some may see through it yet pretend not to for our sake. I often feel like I’ve failed when someone outside my innermost circle sees through my mask.

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