Take Off Your Mask – It’s OK Not to Be OK


I am a great actress. I used to have a real passion for drama at school, but I had to give up the stage when I got ill. It was just too much for me to deal with. But I never gave up acting. I have been acting for years. I put on a mask and tell everyone that I’m OK, that I can deal with anything life throws at me and still walk around like nothing has happened. There are very few people who I don’t use that mask with. Even with the people who I turn to for support, the people who understand what I’m going through, sometimes I put on my best, “I’m fine” face, too. But sometimes I’m not OK, I’m not fine and dandy, and I need to stop feeling guilty for saying that.

For the past few days I have really been suffering with my uterine bleeding disorder. I have been in a lot of pain and my bleeding has reverted back to the terrible way it used to be. I’ve constantly had a microwavable heat pack glued to my stomach, a mug of butter mint tea in my hand to ease my nausea and strong painkillers topping me up to my zombi-like being every four to six hours. Last night, my seizures decided they wanted in on this fun. I had two very violent tonic-clonic seizures during the night. Now I’m walking around the house at a snail’s pace and trying to keep as still as possible to avoid any more pain than I’m in already, doing my best to avoid
more seizures and a trip to the emergency room. For the first time, I had to cancel meeting friends because of my seizures.

I couldn’t pretend I was OK anymore.

It was really hard for me to admit that I wasn’t well enough. When someone asks me how I am, even if I’m really not well (unless I’m in hospital), my answer tends to be positive. It normally involves the word OK at some stage, even if it is, “I’m not great, but I’m OK.” No one likes to hear all the time that you’re not good. Even if it’s not all the time, people are more likely to remember the times you’ve admitted you’re not well as apposed to the good times. I don’t often say I’m not good to my family for that reason. I could be good all week and then admit one day that I’m not well, and I’d still get a lecture from my dad as to how I need to get my spirits up, stay positive and just get on with things. But that’s the point. Most of the time I do.

But some days, things are just too much to do that. I know that he only says it because he cares about me and it hurts him to feel so helpless when his
little girl is so unwell. And that’s OK, the same as it’s OK not to be OK.

It’s not healthy to keep up an act 24/7. I know from experience that it can be easier to just pretend everything’s OK and deal with it all alone in silence. But there are times when you need to do the opposite. Chances are, it’s ourselves that need to accept that more than the people around us. At the end of the day, they know we are ill. They shouldn’t expect us to act like we’re not. If they can’t or won’t support us when we need them the most, then they’re not worth spending our good days with. Life is precious; you shouldn’t have to pretend to not be suffering just to please someone else.

So, moan your head off. Let pain give you weird facial expressions. Stop suppressing everything inside.

Take off your mask –  it’s OK not to be OK.

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Thinkstock image By: iascic


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