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On the first day of a six-month program at a rehabilitation center after my traffic accident, a fellow participant thought I was one of the instructors–just because I smiled and showed some strength. One physiotherapist from the same center told me at one point that I was the patient who had misled her the most. She said, “When you enter a treatment session you smile and ask attentive questions, but when I move your limbs or tell you to perform simple exercises, I realize just how much pain you are in.” At that time, these words made me proud because I saw my ability to hide my pain as an asset, but in hindsight, I have come to realize that I spent far too many resources on appearing normal and happy. It took me several years to learn that it can actually worsen an illness or injury to walk around wearing a mask or ignoring the symptoms – in some cases, it can positively be dangerous to the health.
— Jeanette Kildaveald