Saturday, October 12, 2013

What do you see when you see yourself.....

This may be one of the most difficult blogs I've ever written. It's an immensely sensitive subject, but one that I know other IBD patients face on a daily basis. I want to talk about body image and self esteem. Please don't read this and think that I'm fishing for compliments, or exaggerating about my emotions. I want this to come off as pure honesty. Please see my vulnerability as genuine. Once you are diagnosed with a chronic illness a lot of things change. I always felt that I was a pretty confident person. In high school I was energetic and full of so much life. Of course I had my moments of insecurities, but nothing like today. Not even close. I grew up dancing. A lot of times you'd think that your body image would be distorted because a dancer is supposed to have this perfect, ideal physique. I suppose there were times that I would look at other girls and wish I had their skinny, ballerina thighs. However, I was literally dancing five days a week, and I was in great shape. I never could see myself eating cotton balls, or throwing up in the bathroom. I was more concerned about other teenage topics - especially boys! During college it was difficult because I had gone all those years having my parents take care of me. I gained the freshman fifteen, but always tried to do something physical to stay in shape. The extra weight never bothered me too much. However, my last year in college I fell in a deep depression. I didn't know what I wanted from life, my heart was broken several times, and I didn't love myself. I gained 40 pounds quickly, and almost went into a trance about it. When I looked in the mirror I didn't see a fat person. I was too involved with being unhappy about everything else. When I left college I worked hard to regain my self-esteem. I wanted to feel worthy of life. I began exercising often and focusing on truly loving myself. All of my self. I was in the best shape of my life. When I would go for a run I felt jolts of positive energy through out my entire body. It was amazing. It was amazing that I could look in the mirror and see what I've become. October 2010 I got the news that I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Ok, this is something I can live with, I told myself. I can do my best to carry on with my normal life. I never imagined that so much medication would suck the life out of me. Moving from the bed to the couch, or to the car would be exhausting. I lost a lot of weight from barely being able to eat. My mother would come take care of me, and force me to eat a slice of toast, homemade chicken noodle, or at least one egg. She knew how important it was for me to put nutrients into my body. I easily could have gone weeks with nothing but sips of water. I was so weak I wondered if I could ever be myself again. Could I laugh with my family and be the "crazy" Carly everyone once knew? I was furious as to what Crohn's had done to me. Then I fell in love. When you're in love, you kind of put aside all the bad things you feel about yourself. I had someone telling me I was beautiful. It was enough for me to get by, and not completely dislike myself, just the disease. When the relationship ended I went back into my hole. I was willing to stay there and hibernate….forever. My darkness got the best of me, and I'll never know if that contributed to my flare, but I do know that it didn't help. I was again put on steroids and gained 10 pounds in two days; then an additional 2-3 shortly after that. Prednisone is a terrible drug, but during desperate times you will take anything. My face swelled up, and my stomach bloated. I couldn't fit into any of my clothes. I felt guilty, as if I had let myself go. I would get angry, then the next minute cry at what this disease has done to my soul. I didn't want to see my reflection. I would look at my shadow and think, wow, even my shadow has big thighs. It was life changing. The depression sticks, and it doesn't just fade away once you're off the drugs. It's a challenge that IBD patients deal with constantly. We never know if our pants are going to fit. We never know when the next day will be where the doctor hands over a prescription for more steroids. We never know when our bowels will give up on us, and vanish all the nutrients we need to survive, making us skin and bones. We just hope that we wake up and have enough energy to love ourselves, just for one day. It would be beautiful to look in the mirror and not see a distended, bloated stomach. It would be nice not to focus on my thinning hair from my medication. It would be nice not to feel guilty for being concerned about ones vanity. Gosh, it just would be nice to wake up and truly love the body you've been given; in its entirety. But this is the the way I will live forever….there is hope…and one day there will be a cure. *I would like to thank my fellow Crohnies: Christina and Jeremy. They've always given me the courage to move on each day. Thank you for always thinking I'm beautiful, and understanding the moments when I don't see it.

1 comment:

  1. Hey I have a quick question about your blog, could you email me when you have a chance? Thanks! -Cam