Let’s face it. It’s hard to feel attractive in your own skin when you feel like your body is turning on you.
I have been sick and a size 10. I have been sick and a size 0. I have realized that no matter what size I am, if I am sick, I struggle with feeling beautiful in my own skin. I remember becoming sicker and sicker, and people would continue to tell me how great I looked. I’m sure I looked at a few of these people like they had three eyes. I may have looked great, but honestly at times, I felt like I was dying. That is the thing about having an invisible illness. There are times when it can all feel like a cruel joke.
It’s hard to feel attractive when you are crawling from room to room…or when your stomach is distended from Gastroparesis…or when you’re throwing up because you are so dizzy and your blood pressure has plummeted…or when you are taking a shower and some of your hair falls out because you are not getting enough blood to your brain. It’s hard to feel attractive when your fatigue is so severe, you feel as if you have a never-ending case of the flu.
But in my opinion it is possible and it’s something that takes time and conscious effort. As I have learned to live with EDS and POTS, I have found that the following strategies often help me:
- Find a purpose. When I am working towards something I feel really passionate about, I feel good in my own skin.
- Give. When I am doing something for someone else, I can’t help but feel better about myself.
- Have a sense of humor. Find a way to laugh at yourself. If you have to wear the horribly, ugly compression stockings that roll down the minute you get them on because they help you stay upright longer, make a joke about how sexy they make you feel.
- Once in a while, get dressed up and strut your stuff. This year I have worn more dresses to school. When people comment that “I’m so dressed up” I usually just shrug it off…but in the back of my head, I am more often than not thinking about the year I could not work and became so sick of the same few pairs of yoga pants I wore day in and day out. At times, you should not underestimate the power of a beautiful pair of earrings or a new shirt.
- Accomplish a goal. Nothing makes me feel more in control of my body then when I accomplish something I have worked hard for, or even fought for.
- When people tell you, you look great try saying thanks. And then believe them. They usually mean it, and are speaking out of love and kindness. This is something I continue to work on.
- Do something for your body. Believe it or not, I have come to realize that it is not my enemy. It is begging to be loved and cared for; especially during my sickest times. Eat healthy. Drink a lot of water. Make a lifestyle change. Take a nap. Strengthen muscles…even if you have to lie on the floor to do so. I believe there is always some kind of exercise you can do to help your body. At physical therapy, I watch a man with ALS who cannot speak and does not have much time left, be carried from exercise to exercise. I always think of him when I need a good kick in the butt.
- Sleep and rest. Sleep is my best friend. I feel the best after I’ve had plenty of rest. People who know me best, know not to mess with my sleep.
- Surround yourself with positivity. When you are around people who bring out your best self, it is hard not to let your light shine through.
- Finally, practice positive self-talk. We are our biggest critics. Give yourself a break once in a while and tell yourself you are beautiful. This is the body you have for life. You can either choose to hate it or love it. Find the beauty within and love it to the core.
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