Hello again SecuriCare Blog readers!
I thought this month I’d write about my perception of my body and how it has changed since I was diagnosed. I haven’t had the best perception of my body over the last several years. It started when I was diagnosed in 2007 at the age of 13. I went through a period of time where I struggled with an eating disorder because I was taller than every other girl in my year and had been bullied for it. I was referred to as the “fat one” amongst my friendship group and that just happened to be when the Crohn’s disease began to flare up. That’s how I found it so easy to lose a drastic amount of weight - I was in pain when I ate so I just didn’t eat and lost well over a third of my body weight and became malnourished. I was then unhappy with being so small and I hated my body more because I was so frail. I was also very young and I couldn’t understand why I was so unhappy because in my head, skinny meant happy.
I wasn’t ever happy with how I looked and felt, because my appearance constantly changed.
Over the next 6 years I started to go through a constant routine of moving through the available treatments, dealing with flare ups and being on steroids for 6 months at a time. When I left school I realised how hard I’d been on myself and how the only person that could make me feel happier was me. My weight didn’t have to define me. I needed to deal with my body issues so I decided to speak to someone to see if I could ever begin to love my body. I headed to my GP surgery and asked to be referred to a psychiatrist. I had to wait a few weeks for my first session and it was decided that 1-to-1 meetings would suit me better than group therapy.
I eventually began to see my body for what it was, an amazing thing that kept me going against the odds.
I had an amazing psychiatrist who helped me deal with a number of issues including the reasons why I hated my body and she helped me to see that I associated how I looked with all the things that happened to me. From scars, to moonface, to stretch marks… by looking so deeply at everything it became clear I wasn’t dealing with my underlying issues which were PTSD and anxiety. Thanks to talking through it all and the coping mechanisms I learnt over the following year, I eventually began to see my body for what it was, an amazing thing that kept me going against the odds. I was also taking a trial drug which kept the Crohn’s in remission for a year, and I began to fall in love with fashion, things were going well.
I started to appreciate all my little imperfections and felt good… until I faced getting my ostomy.
After the trial medication ended, I was faced with the prospect of getting an ileostomy and I was terrified of the idea. Despite being bedbound by sickness I said I’d rather die than get an ostomy as I thought I would go back to hating my body. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was because my anxiety wasn’t fully under control. Thankfully I had time to get my head around the idea of an ostomy (it took 6 months from the end of the trial to my surgery date) so I made sure to attend my psychiatry appointments and take control of the anxiety.
I’m now so proud to show the world that I’m a fighter.
I made sure I was fully prepared for having a stoma by looking at pictures and wearing ostomy bags on a trial basis regularly. And I decided it was time to wear whatever I wanted and to celebrate my body. So what if I got an ostomy? So what if I have scars? So what if my weight yo-yos? The alternative would mean I wouldn’t be alive and I’d have given up the chance to have a life because I was being vain! Yes I have wobbles lots of the time when I’m uncomfortable and it’s bikini season but I’m now so proud to show the world that I’m a fighter because these scars show it and my ostomy has given me my life back so now I keep that at the front of my mind and it helps me every day to love my body more and more!