No matter how hard I try, vanity breaks through each barrier I build.
People with Crohns Disease, or other “invisible diseases” may not always look sick. Sometimes we do, but sometimes we look “normal”. Normal to other people anyways, I know I look pretty healthy to the outside world. People who have known me for years might be able to see a difference, but to strangers? To acquaintances? Normal.
To myself? Even when I’ve been preparing for the effects of the disease, of the medications, eventually when I look in the mirror I’m shocked. Over the past 7 years, I’ve been through 18 sizes and then back again. Since my weight has fluctuated so much, I’ve also changed my style several times to accentuate what I did like about my body. I’ve changed my hair, I’ve changed my clothes, I’ve changed everything… all in the quest to feel comfortable in my skin. Regardless of what I do, how much I get my head in order, that moment still comes. That moment where I look in the mirror and think “What. The. Fuck.” and have to fight the tears.
Without fail, when I’m super sick, when I’m flaring, I tell myself that I won’t care about the effects of my medications, of prednisone, of 6mp, as long as I start to feel better. I shake my fist at the social brainwashing and promise that I’ll love my body regardless of how it looks. I tell myself that I won’t care as long as I’m not living in the bathroom or in too much pain to go to the park.
Each and every time, with out fail, no matter how hard I shake my fist, I fail.
Back in May I was hospitalized when my Crohns spread to a new part of my intestines. I thought it was just another obstruction, when I learned that despite my infusions that my disease spread… I was devastated. I had been so close to “remission” for more than a year. I had a taste of normalcy. Usually I refuse Prednisone at any cost, I hate the side effects, physical and otherwise. However, knowing that my disease had kept on trucking through my innards, I said fuck it. Prednisone it was. Every Crohnie knows, prednisone will give you a hell of a fighting chance to get out of the hospital.
Fast forward 3 months. No more hospital for me but I still feel like crap. Now I feel like crap and loathe what my body has done. I’ve gained 30 lbs (which is about right for me on prednisone), I have “moon face”, I have excessive body hair, I have thinning hair ( I think that’s more from the high levels of 6mp I’m on than Prednisone ) and the latest development? I have a bald spot. Yes. I’m 28 years old and have thinning hair and a bald spot. Granted, the bald spot is the size of a quarter, and trust me when I say that you wouldn’t notice it unless I pointed it out. The point is is that *I* know it’s there. Just like all the other changes my body has gone through in 3 months.
I know I don’t look bad, I know I look alright, but I don’t look how I want to look. My neighbor’s grandma thought my weight gain was because I was pregnant (hahahahahaha), my friends love my short hair. I got lots of compliments on the new summer style. My boyfriend isn’t even remotely phased… in fact, I think he’s enjoying a couple of areas that have accumulated some of the extra weight. (insert eyeroll here)
I don’t see a little extra weight… I see where the weight is sitting. I see puffy arms, ankles and a new belly. I see fat cheeks. I don’t see an awesome new hairstyle, I see thin hair and a bald spot… oh wait! There’s the hair… on my face and my arms. I definitely have a new appreciation for Nair. I don’t see a new summer style, I see hiding behind my clothing. I see loathing and tears. I see the love lost for my body.
Ugh. That actually burns my brains to type out that I’m not happy with my body. I don’t like admitting that. I know that it’s temporary. I know it is, I’ve gone through this cycle more times than I’d like to remember. I know that just as soon as I get used to this slightly heavier body, my weight will stop dropping. I know that my hair will come back, I know that the extra hair will go away. I know my body will change… again.
I don’t know. I guess this time around I’m having a particularly hard time with the changes my body is driving through. I know it’ll get better, or at least change again, but it’s tough. I’ve decided to treat myself a bit these next couple of weeks. Instead of my usual bout of refusing to acknowledge that my body has changed, even temporarily, I’m going to just embrace it. Maybe pick up a few new clothes, new shoes (yes, my feet have swollen a bit) and tomorrow I’m going to go get my haircut by a friend, something a little shorter to hide the spot and thinning. I think that maybe instead of ignoring my body changing, I’m going to accept it, even if I don’t like it.
Regardless, writing this all down, admitting it to the internet and my friends has made me feel a little bit better. Being honest with people and letting my fingers do the talking has helped. I’m having a hard time, I’m feeling like crap, and I am self conscious. I’m not happy with how I’ve ended up looking, and that’s okay, and I’m telling people instead of hiding it.