This isn’t a pity party or my attempt at fishing for compliments. I’d hope by now you’d know that’s not my way. This is merely the truth as I see it today.
The external impact of chronic illness is something I had not anticipated or even considered. In many ways I am more comfortable in my own skin now, despite my ill health and all the baggage that comes with it. But in other ways I am deeply unhappy and ill-at-ease and sinking into despair. I’ve already had posts on this topic with Looking gooood and Appearances but here is the other side for the days when those silver linings are harder to see.
When you have the flu or a sickness bug you can look pale and drawn, greenish even, and, well, ill. When you have a chronic illness you can look like this constantly. (I don’t get irritated when people tell me I don’t look sick. I take it as a compliment!) It doesn’t do much for your self esteem.
Sometimes I just don’t recognise (or perhaps don’t want to recognise) the person I see in the mirror. I feel hideous.
I am embarrassed by this beast of a reflection. This is not what I want to look like. I don’t believe this is who I truly am; that this is what I truly look like. Sometimes it makes me cry. Anna Jones is the athletic looking one, right? The university years took their toll but not to this extent.
I am ashamed and repulsed, choosing baggy clothes not just for their comfort but because they hide the fact that I have…grown. Outwards. I am 5’7 and have always felt ‘big’ next to many of my friends but now I find myself feeling collosial even in my own company. Even infront of family members I prefer to hide myself in any way I can.
I am disappointed in myself for not realising what I’d got until it was gone.
Now I often have a swollen nose from some reaction or other. And pasty skin that is a different colour from the rest of my body. My skin is covered in spots, and not just on my face. Then there’s the blotchy patches of skin with areas of redness that even ice packs cannot cool. My nails do not grow as they should or once did.
My hair is falling out again. My eyebrows too this time. My body prioritising other functions over hair growth apparently. I have no hairstyle. Just a cropped cut as short as my mum would go. She cuts it for me when it becomes to ‘long’ for me to wash myself. Headscarves and hats are multipurpose; they hide greasiness and the fact that I cannot brush my hair. There is no energy for hair removal. I feel repulsive and most unladylike. Leg hair growth is more important than head hair growth it seems. Typical.
I have no spare energy for beautification. Before now I have used my precious energy on applying makeup for a trip out of the house, and then not had enough energy left to actually go on the trip. So now, mostly, I have to go out in public or to see friends with no mask at all; nothing to hide behind. I no longer manage to wear contact lenses, another change from the Old Anna.
The weight gain is getting to me. I miss my flat stomach and athletic figure. I miss my tanned long legs now ruined by cellulite and stretch marks. Above my knees is now an absolute horror show. I can no longer see my hip bones or jaw line. Or my collar bone for that matter. My beautiful rings no longer fit on my fingers. I have a gut now and gravity makes it heavy and uncomfortable if truth be told. The skin is tight and stretched and the weight of my stomach, and lack of muscle tone, makes it hang over my trousers. There are rolls of fat on my back. I feel repulsive. Absolutely disgusting. Any muscle or definition I once had has long gone. The lack of exercise and the inability to even walk some days has been most unkind. I can no longer sit in the bath because I do not fit. Yes, really. I’ve become too wide. Just as well I’m more of a shower person… When I started this ‘journey’ I was a size 12-14, or a 10 on top if I was lucky. I now cannot fit into a pair of size 18 shorts. My thighs are probably bigger than some peoples’ waists.
I’m not saying I AM repulsive just that that’s how I FEEL.
I am knock kneed and now it is even more noticeable with my thighs being so large that they look like one lump of flesh rather than two. No thigh gap for me. I can joke about it but deep down I am hurting about the state of myself. I despise it all.
With so few pleasures in life left I refuse to give up my beloved chocolate completely. In truth I don’t have much of an appetite for anything because of the nausea and I don’t eat much at all. If I did I dread to think what size and shape I’d be by now. Fruit and vegetables are leaving me feeling far worse for eating them than I feel without them. So what is one meant to do? Rhetorical question.
I hate my apparent shallowness and the fact that I cannot embrace this side of chronic illness.
My heart goes out to anyone feeling the same.