"Take your time and your talent and figure out what you have to contribute to this world. And get over what the hell your butt looks like in those jeans." - America Ferrera
I don't know if this is the case for all people with chronic illness but I have a hard time accepting the fact that my body just isn't the same as it used to be. And I mean the way I phsyically feel and also the way I look.
Growing up, I was always the the tiny kid. In every situation. I weighed 60 pounds in grade seven and I was all bone and muscle. Gymnastics played a big role in that but when health issues began to present themselves it made my gymnastics career nearly impossible. I remember being in the gym, crying because I would do a cartwheel or handstand and fall right over. My wrists couldn't handle it anymore and they were in agony. The combination of wear and tear and what I later found out to be Rhematoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia ended my gymnastic career when I was twelve. I had never played any other sport and gymnastics was the only thing I had ever felt confident in. Naturally, after quitting gymnatics and getting to the age of Puberty, I went through a lot changes in my body. I put on some weight and was a little more average sized. It took some getting used to but I was also happy about my newfound womanhood.
Skipping ahead to highschool, Endometriosis began causing more and more pain and wreaking havoc on my life. I was doing terribly in school because of it, I missed more classes than I attended. I would be sick for a full week before my cycle, the entire week of my actual cycle I was bedridden and in and out of the ER, and for a week after I suffered from migranes and leg pain. So 3 weeks out of every month, I was in extreme pain. I was constantly fatigued, stressed and entered a period of depression as well. I didn't know how to deal with all of the issues I was having on top of the typical teenage girl issues like homework, boys and friend drama. Life felt so overwhelming. Eventually I got referred to a local Gynecologist who decided to take me on as a patient and officially diagnose me with 'Endometriosis'. Endometriosis can only be diagnosed through Laproscopic Surgery. At seventeen I underwent my first Laproscopy. *Endometriosis was confirmed and removed. It was found all over the back of my uterus, both of my ovaries and on the outside of my fallopian tubes. This surgery generally takes a maximum 2 hours, I was in surgery for 5. After surgery, I was put on a new type of Birth Control to regulate my cycles and control my pain (This was the third or fourth BC pill I had tried already). The combination of surgery and birth control was able to keep my pain in check and to a minimum amount for about two years. Although my symptoms were improving, I experienced a lot of emotional side effects. Since Birth Control pills are made up of hormones, I was an emotional mess. I was either over the top happy or utterly depressed. On top of this, I experienced unusual weight gain and the ladies upstairs gained about three cup sizes. I went from being a tiny, muscular rail of a child to a full blown curvacious woman with extra meat on my bones that I had no idea how to deal with.
I was never by any means overweight. Although, I felt unhealthy and heavy. This feeling hasn't left me over the past few years of my life. If anything, its gotten more prominent. It causes insecurity issues and self esteem problems, even though I hate to admit that. A lot of people use the reasoning that 'even though I don't always love the way my body looks, it can do so much and it is healthy and strong', it's hard for me to accept my body as is, because I can't really say the same thing about my body. My body is sick and it is not healthy. I could eat the healthiest diet in the world and exercise regularly but I still will never be a healthy person. Having Chronic Illness and Autoimmune disease makes that impossible. I strive to improve my health, knowing that it will never fully heal my illness but it may help me to feel better about myself and gain back the confidence I lost so many years ago.
These struggles have taught me so many things. I've learned that I do have a lot to contribute to this world; I just need to believe that I can do that and I need to have faith in my personal abilities. I can handle a lot of crappy things, but I now know that I don't take any crap that is unneccesary. I deal with enough crap already, therefore I don't need a negative and judgemental person in my life who doesn't respect me because of the way I live. I've discovered that I have a passion for letting peole know they are supported and loved. I have a passion for speaking my mind. I have a passion for doing my own thing, regardless of the opinions of others. I have passion for helping others be comfortable and happy with who they are.
Learn what you have to contribute to the world. Everyone has skills and abilities that are worth pursuing. You may not know what they are yet, but keep trying. Do things that make you feel happy and alive and you'll get there. Physical appearance can be a bummer to your positivity but remembering that life is about so much more than how you look is so important. I'll never be 100% happy with my body but I will always cherish the fact that I have one and that I have a wonderful life, filled with with wonderful people and wonderful experiences. And that is what really counts.
*Endometriosis - A condition resulting from the appearance of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. Basically what happens when a woman has endometriosis is endometrial tissue that is regulary found within the uterus somehow makes its way to other parts of the body. Generally it is found within the abdomen but has in some cases been found in the lungs, arm, nose and even the brain. The problem with Endometriosis is that when this endometrial tissue gets somewhere that it isn't supposed to be, it attaches itself to an organ, the walls of your abdomen, nerves or anything it feels like attaching itself to. During a woman's monthly cycle, this tissue begins to bleed/shed as it would if it were in the uterus. But because it is not in the uterus this bleeding causes internal bleeding, organ damage, sticking together or organs, lesions and scarring and often times very intense pain, it can even be known to cause infertility.*