The daily mask

Pictured: Mac Pomeroy. Photo Courtesy of Mac Pomeroy

By Mac Pomeroy

When it comes to discussing disabilities, I try not to make every column regarding it. While it is an important part of who I am, it isn’t all I am. However, when I do write about it, I tend to discuss more about what others can do to help those with disabilities than I do actually describe what it is like to live with a disability and how it impacts my own life.

It isn’t pretty. Every day I try my best to look put together, hide how much pain I am in because I hate it when people pity me or when they think I am any less capable than I am due to my condition. Even with my issues, I am still the same, somewhat-smart person who at least is able to write these articles every week.

Just because I am capable of many things doesn’t take away from the fact that yes, I do have daily struggles due to my disabilities. While I am used to my struggles, sometimes it feels like every muscle in my body hates me. To summarize, my condition is actually quite rare, but the key symptoms are chronic muscular pain and weakness and chronic fatigue. This, combined with my other problems, means there is a lot more struggle than I discuss with people.

This is the case for many disabled people. In front of the camera, we often feel the need to mask our actual problems, but behind closed doors, it all is revealed.

For me, I am always tired. I hardly have the energy to get through the day, and I definitely don’t have the physical strength. I can’t stand for more than five minutes without intense pain. 

Just these last few days, I have been especially worn down, and it seems as though I am sleeping more than I am awake. Such is typical of this time of year.

My shoulders don’t work, my joints pop constantly and I lose my balance extremely easily. Even while trying to openly discuss how my conditions impact me, there is just too much to say. I won’t pretend I could handle it all currently on my own.

Thankfully, I don’t have to. I have a family who listens to me and tries to help me in any way they can. My friends are very supportive. I work with a team at the paper that has always understood. I am fortunate to have a really great support system in my life.

But, for many disabled people, asking for help isn’t always easy. Explaining our conditions is far from simple, and it gets tiring to do time and time again. However, sometimes we need a bit of understanding.

Even if the person doesn’t usually look like they are struggling, listen when they say they need help or they need to take a break. Even if you really feel you understand the person’s condition, you probably don’t. You see the daily mask they wear, and not the ugly parts. Take time to listen, and do your best to understand.