Tuesday, 26 February 2013

You can't take the sky from me

This is something I did a while ago just for myself, and I thought I would share it.

I grabbed some of the clothes I've been too terrified to wear whilst being ill and put them on, and took pictures. I hadn't worn them because of the physical changes going on in my body - I didn't like the way they looked post-change and so was too frightened to get them out and try again. I'd had an ironing board stomach for the last five years - I mourned the even temporary loss of it.

It was a big step forwards and I did feel quite palpably better for having done it. It served as another reminder that everything could indeed be so much worse than it is. 

In the first twelve months of being sick I lost nearly a stone in weight before I started to get my bowel under control - I still don't actually know what's going on with it, but it's not as crazy any more so that's something - I no longer had hips, just sharp edges and flat planes at the top of my legs, and my collar bones and top line were very prominent. When the weight finally crept back on again (most of it anyway) I started to suffer with bloating and generally wanted to avoid fitted clothes for all of this period.

Then I hit on it - why was I letting the "before" dictate the "now"? Just because they were different didn't have to mean the now was bad or indeed "wrong". It was just that - different from before. 

I think in some ways there's something of a lesson to learn which is specific to the chronically ill - just because the inside is being frankly disgusting doesn't mean you have to project it onto the outside and hurt yourself with that projection. I've never had the best self-image in the world to begin with, but it certainly suffered for some time after falling ill. I knew the condition itself and its effects were invisible, but I knew how ugly and horrible I felt and thought this must be coming off me in almost tangible waves. I struggled for a long time with the feeling of being unable to get properly clean (saving having just literally gotten out of the bath) because of bowel and bladder histrionics, and this certainly contributed to my general "I'm disgusting and yuck and eurgh" moments.

In time I learnt to accept that the weight wouldn't go back on where I wanted it to (I still don't have hips really) and that there was nothing I could really do about looking a little different than before. Bodily functions were still different than before, but they became the new normal and I began to feel a little less affected by them. If you try hard enough there's usually some element of humour to be found however deeply buried - and I suppose there is something a little humorous about being constantly kept on your toes by "natural" bodily function. I'm fairly convinced there's a tiny little person with a hammer living behind my bladder who hits it occasionally - as good a theory as any on the sudden "NOW!" demands it gives me. 

Moving away from physical manifestations and tackling the psychological side of the issue, one of the things I find most upsetting is when I see other Spoonies referring to themselves as "broken", or worse still when other people call them that. 

Let's look for a second shall we? To the dictionary!

Broken: fractured, damaged and no longer in once piece; forcibly separated; rejected; sundered; incomplete.

Not one of those possibilities has a place in a healthy outlook towards a chronic illness. Each and every condition comes along with its own quirks, foibles and down right inanities - but you're still in one piece. I firmly believe there's a choice of outlook here, and the much healthier option is to drop the ugly/broken/damaged ideas and opt for some more positive ones. As with all things it takes time, but it's more than likely worth it. 

And as for being used as an insult? Well, there'll always be oxygen thieves about I'm afraid. 

You're not broken. The human body is an incredible biological machine - if it starts to react and change, it's because it's attempting to fight whatever is happening to it. It will continue to fight for just as long as you are drawing breath - it won't give up. Nor should you. Not broken, merely different than before. 

Oh, and one last thing. The final photo I took that day was for Petunia herself:


  1. xD *hugs* you be one strong lady! xx

  2. You're very right and have a great point here.

    I suffer with the old body hatred and I shouldn't, you're right.

    I was a size 10-12 right up until I was 19, I put on some weight all on my own, but lately over the last 4 years, I've put on about 3 stones that I know to be completely linked to my condition and lack of ability to do much of any exercise to drop weight.

    Its a downright pisser, but if your body is trying its best, who I am to curse it.