When I thought about it I realised that although friends and family have been told of bouts of illness, periods of hospitalization and we’ve been open and honest about the complications all this has brought to our lives, it really just amounts to ‘hearsay’ as only very few have witnessed evidence of it for themselves. In fact on the whole most of them have only seen me looking and acting well. When I meet face-to-face with others I find myself always doing my best to present myself as positively as possible both in temperament and appearance. Even when the lupus is trying to deny me and energy is running low I often find I just ‘dig deep’ and carry on regardless. So it’s really no wonder people have the wrong impression.
This led me to question whether it is just a façade and to ask, am I somehow being dishonest and just putting on a show for the outside world? Could it be that I have been using a ‘disguise’ of wellness and positivity to fool others and hide from the reality, in a similar way to which the lupus itself disguises itself as other illnesses to conceal its’ real identity?
After much thought I am glad to say I don’t think this is the case. I realised that it’s not that I’m being false or deceitful, quite the reverse: it is just part of me to be sociable and friendly. As those the closest to me would vouch, by nature I am generally a relatively cheery person who, within the boundaries of realism and honesty adopts a positive outlook. It is the way I find my way through life. Tony my husband is very much the same. So during times that I am ‘out and about’ talking to others and being part of the world what they see is not the lupus but just me being me and being so is interpreted as ‘healthy’ by others. Equally, perfectly healthy people who are negative and unengaged can seem unhealthy. So I suppose it is unsurprising that others can easily fail to appreciate some of the ongoing challenges and wretchedness that the lupus bring to life when it so chooses (and on a more frequent basis than many imagine) as these things are not visible.
As being the way I am requires a good level of energy, I have often surprised myself how I have managed to carry on ‘being me’ without it being obvious to others. Even when I am in hospital I manage to chat and befriend the nurses and cleaners I meet and I am sure they wonder what on earth I am doing there. I have even driven myself through high profile presentations for work which I’ve done successfully without anyone suspecting anything untoward only to find myself shortly after.
It is only in the very worst times that this ability to ‘shine on’ regardless has been affected. For me those rare occasions where I felt lupus had robed me of my personality were the most desperate and frightening. Only my very nearest and dearest have witnessed this as I retreat from the world.
So on reflection in some ways I am glad that others don’t get it. I want to be me and I am glad that I still can, even with the omnipresence of the lupus and all its many faces.