How Have You Been Feeling

For someone living with chronic illness, hearing the simple question “How are you?” really packs a punch. It’s so much easier to just say, “I’m fine, thank you,” even when this is anything but true. I realize that others aren’t truly interested in receiving a detailed explanation of my multiple symptoms, as well as their impact. I don’t blame them, honestly. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best response is “I’m just trying to do my best.” It’s a more positive spin on the situation than blurting out “I’m hanging in there.” Questions about how I’m feeling are frequently accompanied by positive statements about my appearance. “You sure like you’re feeling good” is one of the most frequent comments that I continue to hear. I usually decide to just say, “thank you.” It’s less exhausting than engaging in a diatribe about how what you see isn’t always what you get. As a female living with chronic illness, I freely admit that I have several advantages for altering my appearance. Artful application of cosmetics can do much to create the illusion of good health, even when it actually fails to exist. Given my artistic interests, I realize that I have been able to camouflage how I actual feel, on any given day, by applying make-up. Doing so makes me feel better about going out into the world, even as it disguises my subjective experience of how I am truly feeling. I choose to look what I consider to be the very best version of myself, even if that means that I self-perpetute the illusion of being healthy.

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