The Emotional Asthma Mask
Let’s talk about masks. Not the literal kind, although I am a huge advocate for every asthmatic carrying a face mask with them at all times. I’m talking about the mask we wear throughout our lives.
We “wear” different masks in different situations. For instance, we act a certain way in the workplace, with our friends, family, and more. While we try to always be our authentic selves, sometimes we have to adapt to our surroundings.
Don’t hide your asthma
I will admit this is something I struggle with. I have written articles about how not to be a hider when it comes to my asthma, but it is HARD. I can’t even tell you how many times I have hidden when taking my rescue inhaler. My own husband rarely ever sees me take my daily asthma meds!
I am getting better at not being ashamed or worried about what others will think or how they will judge me. We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves, especially when we are struggling. I feel like sometimes I put on a “mask” to hide my asthma and I really shouldn’t.
Educating others about our asthma can help them better understand what you are going through. Don’t be afraid to tell them what your triggers are and how to help you if your asthma starts to act up when they might be around.
If you are coughing and someone thinks you are sick, take a moment to explain that it is in fact your asthma and not an illness that is contagious. Learn as much as you can about your asthma, as treatments and medications are constantly changing and evolving.
Advocate for yourself
As asthmatics, we are our own best advocate. It is up to us to speak up and take charge of our health and our disease. Advocacy doesn’t mean you have to do huge things or march on Congress (although doing those things can definitely help!) to be effective.
Speaking up for yourself to your medical team and bringing awareness to what we go through on a daily basis is all part of advocacy. People who have healthy lungs don’t necessarily always understand what it is like to struggle to breathe so it is up to advocates to help bridge that knowledge gap.
Be yourself! I have asthma but that isn’t all there is to me. When I’m struggling I let others know so they can look out for me if I need it. Think about it--if you hide your asthma diagnosis from others they might not know what to do should your asthma start acting up.
If I am working out at the gym with friends, I am getting better at taking my inhaler in front of them before starting my workout. It’s those baby steps that have slowly given me the confidence to not be ashamed of my asthma.
I want to encourage you to remove your emotional asthma “mask” and be your authentic self. Having asthma isn’t a life anyone would choose, but it makes up part of who we are!
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