Which Mask Am I Wearing Today?
You might be thinking I am referring to the masks so many of us are using to combat COVID-19. That is not the case. I am talking about the masks we show to others, day in and day out, as we cope with rheumatoid arthritis in all its glory.
Presenting painful emotions
Some days we wear the mask of fear. This happens when we get news from our care team about how we are doing. What is the prognosis at this time? What has our blood work revealed? How are our joints doing? What did the x-rays show? What does the future hold? And on and on. This mask conveys a sense of uncertainty and disquiet.
Some days we wear the mask of pain. This happens when the discomfort of RA shows through on our faces. Faces that are drawn and contorted, with eyes that are bleary and lips that are tight with pain. This mask conveys the reality of experiencing pain as a daily part of our lives.
Some days we wear the mask of sadness. This happens when the emotions of managing a chronic disease bring out mental pain. When the realization of how much our lives have changed, how much we have given up, how much we have had to adjust our lives, hits home and brings a sense of true and heavy sadness. This mask conveys how emotions are often just below the surface and how strongly we carry the emotional burden of chronic disease.
Some days we wear the mask of anger. This happens when we have to fight for treatment, fight for insurance coverage, fight for proper and caring medical care, fight for the many aspects of dealing with RA. This mask conveys the immense frustration we face day after day.
Fatigue is a big part of RA too
Some days we wear the mask of fatigue. This happens when the physical and/or emotional tole of RA becomes apparent in our eyes, the wrinkle in our foreheads, the sagging of our shoulders, etc. This mask conveys the very real truth that fatigue is just as big a part of RA as the pain.
Not all the masks are negative.
Emotions of strength, love, and compassion
Some days we wear the mask of compassion. This happens when we are able to share our empathy and care for others who suffer from chronic disease. This mask conveys how our own experiences can be a mirror for others to draw strength from.
Some days we wear the mask of determination. This happens on those great days when we feel we can make it work and do what needs to be done to cope with RA, be it getting the treatment we need, doing the exercises we know will help us, etc. This mask conveys our innate ability to manage whatever life throws our way!
Some days we wear the mask of gratitude and love. This happens when we share with our families, friends, and care team how very crucial they are to our life. How their support and care are the backbones of our ability to get through our RA journey successfully. This mask conveys our true and never-ending appreciation for all of those who keep us going!
Some days the masks that someone sees may not truly reflect how we feel and some days we may wear all of these masks, throughout the day. What are the masks that you wear?
Check-in: As we start a new year, how are you feeling?