Loving Your Body When You Have Chronic Illness (es) (Part 1)

I won’t lie and say that I have been body positive my entire life- well specifically- I haven’t had the best self-esteem most of my life- which was more about things besides outer appearances. Self-doubt followed me everywhere and always. (definitely something I do not miss about the preteen and teen years). This is also something, I very much so, and usually, keep to myself. I’ve improved a lot over the years, especially when I focused on it in college. I’ve worked really hard on things. I’m not saying that I have completely moved past that.

But there are things I might say that show how different I am-

  • I’m not a machine that deconstructs compliments and make them something unrecognizable and so different- that it’s now negative- and then immediately spit them out. Sometimes the machine still goes, but I’ve gotten much better at not spitting out the result. I can even reverse the machine sometimes and appreciate and believe in what someone tells me. I’ve even gotten better at understanding why they might have given me that compliment.
  • I can (sometimes) firmly state my worth and stand up for myself and acknowledge my strengths and accomplishment- usually this is quietly and too myself- and sometimes timid and shaky- and unsure.
  • I feel a lot more confident about what’s on the inside and what’s on the outside.
  • I don’t feel as self-conscious all of the time.
  • I now love my body (and am working on the inside still) more than  I can ever remember- for example- I would have never posted this photo- even a year ago (let alone 4 or 6 or 10 years ago).

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Making changes is complex and ebbs and flow with time and what’s going on in your life. Like a quote from Luke Cage (yes, I binged the first season in one weekend). “Sometimes backward to move forward, always.” (Instead of the never backwards always forwards- that’s hard!)

I have however made substantial changes with my self-esteem and confidence and things associated with it. The hardest part wash’t really about my physical appearance, but everything on the inside.

I’m not saying that the doubt (usually tied to anxiety) doesn’t show its annoying antics every now and then.

When my body was in chaos with the new diagnoses this past summer– and my hair was getting dry and falling out- and my skin was dry and peeling and my body was developing acne everywhere (mostly the hair part bothered me- I’m all about my hair- always have and always will). —-It definitely poked at my confidence regarding my physical appearance. While having my period for over 6 weeks with all of that going on, I didn’t feel very attractive or confident.

I’m all about that body positive life. I hate the social standards that say how our bodies should look like and even how we care for them. Beauty standards really irk me. I appreciate the people paving the way for this. We are all so different. I’m even not a fan of BMI.  I also LOVE food. I don’t like cooking, but I love food.

I did have a moment when there was talk about correcting my underbite with surgery- and I saw before and after photos- the fact that teenage me went- but I won’t look like me. Makes me proud.

Weight has always been something that has been that dark cloud or nagging reminder for most of my life. (mostly the nagging reminder). Usually, it hasn’t been a main focus or concern. (There were a few years in later elementary school and then during bits of high school where it became so). But I got to college and changed my habits SUBSTANTIALLY.

Which in turn, drastically changed my insulin intake- but not my weight Over the course of freshmen and sophomore year- I continued trying to lose weight.

I also binge eat related to my emotions (which changed when I changed my habits- But I still had the compulsion to do so. But after graduating college and starting anxiety meds, it became something much quieter and with a very rare urge).

I had an endo pressuring me and beauty standards floating in my head. While even though there was a part of me saying screw this. Screw beauty standards. I was healthy. Working out and eating well.

After my first run in with diabetes burnout and thyroiditis- which the thyroid stuff gave me an aha moment- no wonder little had happened. I had reached a point where I had focused so hard for so long that I was like screw it. It’s too much of a stressful thing and disappointment- especially when I was doing the right things but little would happen. PLUS- I could tell my body had substantially changed- just not that little number on the scale.

Then my new endo (who I saw after the other not so great endo in GA), looked at the number for my weight, looked at me, looked at the number again, looked at my blood work, and looked at me again. She then said she’d be right back- She came back and measured the percentage of muscle mass in my body. After getting my results, she said- BMI is not your friend and doesn’t tell the whole story. She said, we’re going to ignore this. As long as your blood work is good, you continue taking care of your diabetes, and doing things in moderation- you should ignore BMI.

After that appointment, I definitely decided “screw it.” Just being healthy was my focus- not the weight.

Which- of course- easier said than done. There was still a part of me that wanted to lose weight. But I don’t ever see myself being “thin.” I see myself being happy and healthy about myself. It’s just not going to happen- I love food and craft beer too much. It’s just not who I am.

But the moment I stopped focusing on losing weight, the better it was for me- and instead of focusing on weight loss. I could focus on my self-esteem and confidence and trying to love my body. That’s when I started making more progress.

Then, after this PCOS diagnosis- I learned a lot of women carry weight around their midsection (which is where most of mine is). So I got to just like “whatever.”

But while I’ve been working to feel better about myself and love my body. The physical aspects have been the easiest- what’s on the inside- my mind has been much more difficult to work on.

I’ve noticed something though-

The part of loving my body that’s been the hardest? It hasn’t been being okay with the shape of my body, or the acne, or that I’m sweaty or hairy.

The hardest part has been believing in myself- ignoring the imposter syndrome and everything else going on inside my mind.

But as I’ve been working on loving my body- I’ve noticed something else-

It’s the little voice that goes- but my body doesn’t completely love me. How can I love something that doesn’t work?

Part 1 of 2.

Hey you! Yes, you! 

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We’ll both be glad you did! -Mindy

One thought on “Loving Your Body When You Have Chronic Illness (es) (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: Loving Your Body When You Have a Chronic Illness (Part 2) | There's More to the Story: LIFE, Diabetes, and Mental Health

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