Living with M.S.

"Living with M.S. is sort of like training for a long race. The harder you try, and the longer you keep at it, the stronger you become.
Eventually, looking back, you may be amazed at the power you possessed, even when you had no idea it was within your reach." (Linda Ann Nickerson)


Ever want to put on a mask and just hide from the world?

Maybe a masquerade isn’t always child’s play.

Halloween is nearly here, and masks are in vogue. Scary and silly masks fill store displays. People of all ages put them on for fun.

Masks invite us all to make believe we are someone (or something) we are not. Maybe we pretend to be spooky figures, wild beasts, or comical characters. Generally, it’s all in good fun – or so folks say.

That’s not what I mean here about putting on masks.

Psychologists like to talk about masks as emotional defense mechanisms. Perhaps people put on figurative masks to hide their feelings, store their internal secrets, or feign positivity when they don’t really mean it. Sure, mental health experts make a valid point.

But that’s not it, either. Not for the MSer.

When the MS MonSter attacks, sometimes the MS warrior may want simply to slip on a mask and go through the motions of life without having to explain or engage. Although we’ve been told countless times on our best days, “You don’t look sick,” we have days when we glance in the mirror and see death warmed over.

Our foreheads crinkle. Our brows bend downward on the sides. Our smiles droop into frowns. Our heads drop, putting even more pressure on our already aching necks and backs. Our shoulders slump. We may look a whole lot older than our years, at least for a stretch.

You get the point.

Then, if we do drag ourselves out and about, we inevitably run into all manner of colleagues, family members, friends, neighbors, or others.

“How are you?” they ask. But they don’t really want a rundown.

So we simply answer, “Fine, and you?” Then we shuffle along, wishing we’d avoided the whole interaction, so we wouldn’t have had to lie about how we really feel.

Some days, a mask is just what the doctor ordered. It’s easier to be anonymous when we’re under the weather. 

 Vintage photo / public domain

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