I’m Emily (19)- the founder of Life Behind a Mask and advocate for mental and chronic illness. When I was informed in 2020 that I had autism, a lifelong disability characterised by social communication deficits, the success of my future came into question. I began wondering whether or not I would ever have a meaningful career, the ability to further my education, and the opportunity to financially support myself. I felt my world becoming smaller, whilst simultaneously watching the lives of others flourish, and when the devastating consequences of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis also began intruding on my wellbeing, I knew that a change had to be made. Not only for myself, but for other people who were facing the loneliness of mental and chronic illness. 


Though I currently lack official qualifications, I do have personal experience- something that is too often overlooked and undervalued within the healthcare system. Every day I have the opportunity to emotionally support young people through their hardships, which is a responsibility that I take very seriously, given that my actions have the power to positively influence someone else's future. Though my small community on instagram has recently grown in size, my aspirations remain the same. First and foremost, I want to empower autistic individuals to accept themselves for who they truly are. I want to enrich people’s understanding of hidden disabilities by providing truthful accounts of what it’s like to live a life burdened by physical and mental illness, and finally, I want to provide hope. Hope that life can improve, despite one’s medical label.

I would like to briefly thank you for choosing to join me on this journey of advocacy, and I hope that with time, this online community receives the acknowledgement required to influence the way in which invisible illnesses are perceived. It will require hard work and resilience, but I am not willing to let anyone else go unnoticed by health care professionals. It's time that society altered their perception of hidden disabilities, and I now feel ready to contribute to this change.