Chronic Illness, Body Image & Getting Married
Seeing my wedding photos felt like staring at a stranger, who has somehow managed to impersonate me on that special day.
I quickly click away, before the tears reach my eyes, before I have to acknowledge that this – stranger – is me.
My illnesses have been hard on me, and they love to multiply their effects, making even the simplest tasks incredibly difficult.
Earlier last year I was grateful, because I hadn’t had many side effects from the Prednisolone (steroids) I have been on almost continuously since getting sick.
Turned out I just hadn’t been on them for long enough.
June 2015 was absolutely awful. Thanks to side effects from Methotrexate (originally used as chemotherapy), I could barely get out of bed, was throwing up every day, and frankly, I began questioning whether life was worth living, if that was to become my new normal.
As I went off the Methotrexate and the side effects diminished, I tried to get back to a healthy weight.
I put on 1kg in July, another in August.
Then in September I suddenly began having issues buttoning up my beloved new jeans.
When I stepped on the scales I got a massive shock; I had put on 10kg in a month.
My doctors have all agreed that it is due to the steroids, and encouraged me not to worry about it too much until I am off the steroids (a date that has kept getting pushed back, as I continue to experience severe side effects to any new medication we have trialled, including landing me briefly in hospital back on November).
And then there was that whole “getting married” business.
I am so incredibly grateful to myself for choosing a dress that would fit a vast variety of shapes and sizes, so at least I didn’t have to worry about fitting into my dress.
However, with that being said, going from a BMI of 20.2 half a year ago, to 29.7 today is concerning. And frankly damn frustrating, when the majority of your clothes won’t fit you any more. I would also have been happy to skip the steroid side effect of “moon face“, which led me to staring into the mirror, wondering “who are you, stranger?”.
I know it’s the illness, I know it’s the drugs, I know it’s not my fault, and I know it doesn’t make me any less valuable, or worthy, or loveable.
But I’m the product of a society that drills into us that our value lies in our looks.
I worry that when people look at my wedding pictures they will not see me, that they will not see how incredibly happy I was that day. That instead they will either pity me, knowing that it’s the illness and the medications, or judge me for “letting myself go”, if they aren’t aware of my health struggles.
I know there’s an important lesson for me here, about learning to love myself and my body, even without my previous privileges of size and beauty.
About learning to hold space for me, being okay with where I am, even as I take steps to fit into most of my clothes again.
Knowing that looking after myself and my body, to the best of my abilities, doesn’t mean that I can’t love myself where I am right now.
And right now, today, that means getting to know and love the stranger in the mirror.
- Posted in: Beauty & Body Image ♦ Favourites ♦ Health ♦ Life Skills ♦ Loving Yourself ♦ Relationships ♦ Uniquely You
- Tagged: beauty, body image, chronic illness, chronic pain, illness and body image, looking after yourself, loving yourself, moon face, prednisolone, self-care, Self-compassion, self-love, spoonie, steroids, wedding, weight