Wearing a mask
I never really wore a mask. What you saw was pretty much what you got. I would like to think I am almost the same today – in most ways.
I cannot deny that I hide some things away. I might not be exactly the same in one situation as I am in another – but then again, I am only human right? I think most of us can say we have worn a mask or are prone to wearing a mask at one time or another.
In 2012, after brain surgery for a non-malignant brain tumor, my life changed. I had to find my ‘new normal’ – the place where the new minimum and maximum speed levels had to be in tune with my body and brain. From the outside I looked the same, apart from a moon-like face from medication and a slow pace from extreme fatigue.
But as time passed, I looked no different than before my brain surgery. Yet inside, my world had been rocked – both physically and mentally, I was fractured. I started wearing a mask…almost everyday.
Going through brain surgery has been an eye opener. I have come to understand what the term ‘invisible disability’ really means for many people. Those symptoms and side-effects of a condition that cannot be seen by friends and family…only felt by you. The term ‘invisible disability’ refers to symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments. I am sure you all know a person who has an invisible disability – or you might not even know they have one?
Because these symptoms are invisible to others, wearing a mask can sometimes be easier than trying to explain why months or years later, you are still struggling with issues that most people would have thought were or should have been resolved. These symptoms can sometimes or always limit daily activities and can range from mild challenges to severe limitations and vary from person to person. Each story is different.
Invisible disabilities, in so many forms, really exist for a lot of people. I have been reminded of this on so many occasions; be it at support group, through discussions with friends or just reading an article. In this day and age of social media, we need to remind ourselves to look past the picture post and really see the person.
So, what are the reasons behind wearing a mask? For each person, I think it’s different.
For me, when I am wearing my mask– why do I do it?
– A mask protects me from being vulnerable to the judgements of others
– A mask allows me to carry on my day-to-day life without having to explain things each time
– A mask protects others from the truth
– A mask allows life to continue on as best as it can that day, for both myself and those around me
While masks can be of benefit and useful to us in certain situations, some days by just taking them off – for an honest and refreshing moment – you can be surprised by the results.
It may be from the reaction you get from the person who sees your naked face, the true you behind the mask. Allowing true connection and communication from our authentic selves, is often when we receive the most genuine response.
So, while I no longer have the need to be wearing a mask like I used to – I have realized the benefit of being truly transparent and ‘unmasked’. It works both ways, breaks down barriers and opens up communications. However, I also understand the reasons behind putting on that mask – it’s just sometimes easier….
Would you dare to go bare and break away from the mask?