Projecting a “healthy” image

A few days ago I wrote this post for Chronic Babe’s carnival on Behind the Mask.  I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  Are there other masks I wear that I’m not aware of?

I went to the gym today.  This was a huge accomplishment.  I haven’t been to the gym in ages, and the last few times I went, I felt horrible afterwards.  Now I’m not working, and I’m on new meds, and I did a minimal workout, so I’m hoping to feel ok.  Still, it was weird being there with masks on my mind.

One reason I go to this particular gym is that no one seems to be judging anyone else.  We all just do our own thing.  No one needs to feel bad about choosing the small weights, or for only doing the treadmill.  Of course, that doesn’t stop me from feeling awkward anyway.  I only did 7  minutes on the bike.  Now, a few years ago I couldn’t even do that much, so this was huge for me.  But what did other people think?  The person on the next bike had clearly been there for a while, and was still there when I left.  Did she think it was strange?  What about the 3 minutes on the elliptical machine?  Again, for me this is a lot, but to others it must have looked weird.  What were they thinking?

The funny thing is, I really don’t care what people think of me.  The reason I wondered was that I was curious how I was projecting.  I’m so used to hiding my illness, and then when I can’t do something, I’m never sure if people think it’s because there’s something wrong with me or if they chalk it up to some so-called-normal trait, like laziness.  I didn’t know anyone at that gym and I’ll probably never see them again.  I don’t care if they thought I was weak or lazy or whatever.  But I do care about controlling how they see me.  I can’t control much with my illnesses.  I can’t control how I feel, or sometimes how I look, and even sometimes how I act.  If I can project the image that I want, though, that’s the ultimate control.

So I’m back to the question from my earlier post: is it worth it?

Answer: I don’t know.  I’m guessing that some days it is and some days it isn’t, but overall, I just don’t know.  Is it worth it for you?

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