It Feels like My Body Betrayed Me
Confession time: I don't like my body very much. As a woman, I certainly have felt pressure to look a certain way at all times. I have to wear the right clothes, do my hair and makeup in a specific way, and don't get me started on body type.
While this pressure is always lingering, living in a chronically ill body is what forces me to hate it so much.
My personal experience
Dealing with juvenile psoriatic arthritis during my teen years was a heavy burden to carry. Not only did I have to cope with my changing body and raging hormones, but I also had to deal with a body that constantly hurt and dragged.
It felt like my body hated me sometimes, like while dealing with pimples and crumbling nails at the same time.
But even now, years later, I still have ill feelings toward my body. It feels like it betrays me frequently. It betrays me when it stops responding to medicine that gave me sweet relief for years. Or when it swells, aches, and is drained of all energy, making it harder to achieve my goals and dreams.
I didn't always deal with my feelings in a healthy way. There were many difficult times where I felt alone and like I had no one to turn to.
Over the years, comfort eating, isolating myself, self-deprecating humor, and dressing in baggy clothes are just a few of the ways I dealt with my disdain for my body. It was painful.
Facing my feelings
After living with them for many years, I realized how important it is to acknowledge these feelings. I felt silly for feeling so strongly, but bottling up my emotions led to out of proportion insecurity and frustration. It's better to take things as they come before they balloon and become unmanageable.
Talking to a therapist has been very helpful in my battle. My therapist has shown me that getting these feelings out and accepting that they're real and valid has helped so much.
And I've also learned techniques to cope when those feelings come up, such as journaling my feelings. I've also started to take action on my own, such as wearing clothes and making up that make me look good and feel confident.
Dressing up sometimes gives me the confidence boost I sorely need and inspires me to care more for my body. I've also started doing small things to take better care of my body, such as eating better or choosing better quality skincare products. Even if these things don't produce results, it feels good to know I'm doing good things for myself.
Appreciation for the body that keeps going
Sometimes, I have to stop and remind myself I have many reasons to be grateful for my body. It's gotten me to this point, and for that, I should be glad. And I'm certainly lucky because it has treated me kindly in many regards and continues to carry me.
I wish I felt more secure in my skin. And sometimes, I do; I marvel at the body that has overcome so much pain to do great things and how much more I know it will accomplish. It's the body that got me through years of school and my early career.
It kept going even when I was sick and worried I'd have to give up everything I worked for. It's the body that my fiancé fell in love with, and that will look beautiful wearing a white dress when I marry him.
Even while recognizing all the good and counting my blessings, it's still okay to acknowledge my feelings. Thinking "it could be a lot worse" isn't helpful. But accepting the good and bad helps free up the energy spent suppressing those feelings, allowing me to start to move past those feelings and reinvest my energy doing things that make me feel better.
How do you plan to recognize PsA Awareness Month?