I was subbing today when one of the third graders asked me, “Are you tired?” I paused before answering. Oh no, he knows! My mind was racing. Did my under eye concealer wear off revealing the bags under my eyes, showing that I didn’t sleep well despite Ambien? Can he tell that I’m dragging as I walk around the room? Sure I’d rather be curled up on the couch with a good book and a cup of vanilla rooibus tea. I know I’m not my enthusiastic self, but I’m trying. I’m trying! I’m here, aren’t I?I wanted to say, Buddy, you have no idea!
Instead I said, “Why do you ask?”
Bracing myself for his reply, he said, “Cuz I’m tired.”
“Oh, you are. Well school is almost over,” I stated. Phew!
When I meet people for the first time, they probably have no idea that I’m sick. I take time to look presentable. I put on some makeup to look more awake. I put thought into what I wear. I believe that if you take time to present yourself in a way that’s put together, then you’ll feel better. Most of the time, this does help. I also try to walk around with a smile on my face. I make small talk with the cashier at the food store. I stop and talk with a neighbor when I’m walking Raven. It definitely takes more energy to be as outgoing and socialable as I used to be. What used to come so natural to me takes effort on my part. I get exhausted after a long social event where I have to be “on.” If I acted how I really felt, I would probably come off as bored or not interested, which isn’t the case. But what is my other option, keep to myself by staying in my house all day, lounging in pjs? Sure, I do have days where I crash and need to do that. But If I did that everyday, I think I would become miserable and would start feeling worse. I need to fake it til I make it, in some respect.
It used to bother me when people who knew I was sick, would say, “Oh you look great. Are you feeling better?” I know that sounds terrible to say that I’m annoyed by a compliment, but I viewed it as they didn’t believe me. I thought that if they say I look good, I can’t be sick, right? I now know this is completely wrong. And I’m glad that they weren’t coming up to me telling me I look like crap. That would definitely be worse. I got over it and learned to say, “Thank you.”
In the end, it’s probably a good thing that I don’t look how I feel. Although, I can’t hide how I really feel from the people who really know me. (Not that I would want to) I think this is because I can relax and be completely honest. When I visit my parents and I don’t feel well, I don’t feel weird telling them I need to go lie down and take a nap. My mom and I are really close. We talk daily on the phone and she can instantly tell what kind of day I’m having simply by how I say hello. But even she will say when she sees me, “You look great. Do you feel great?”