Speaking for myself I have never been comfortable in my own skin. This isn’t uncommon for teenage girls, but when you add having multiple scars, being in and out of wheelchairs, walkers, etc., having tubes off and on for various reasons, and all of the other visible things that come with invisible illnesses it makes for an especially self conscious person. It was only recently through struggling with depression (ironic right?) that I have realized it isn’t about what others think, but about what I think. I know I can preach that, but self-acceptance and self-love only come from, well, yourself.
My body is covered with scars and other so called imperfections. I used to look for ways to hide all of them. I was scared to wear crop tops because I didn’t think guys would think I was pretty if they saw the scars on my spine. I used to pile make up on my face to hide all of the cystic acne that was left over from steroid treatments or from hormonal crap going on. After my PICC placement I wore long sleeves even on hot days, it also covered up my scars from all of the blood draws I have had (it looks like I cut myself on the inside of my elbows where they draw blood because of all of the scars).
My mom didn’t help with this when she would tell me to put creams on to make these scars and imperfections go away. I know she wasn’t doing this to hurt me. She just knew how self-conscious I was and wanted to help and fix it like all moms want to; she didn’t know she was making it worse.
This year I truly found myself and now I can honestly say – I don’t give a damn. I realized I love being different. I love having piercings, dying my hair every color of the rainbow when I get bored (which is like all of the time), and I love not dressing like everyone else. I wear crop tops because I feel pretty in them. I wear make up when I want to, because I want to - not to hide anything. I wear tank tops because it makes me happy. Depression made me realize how much time I spent hating my body, blaming it, and as a result hiding it. This ended up making me hate myself and not feel comfortable in my own skin more than a normal teenager. I don’t want any of you to have to go through this, but if you are I want you to know you aren’t alone.
I know it’s hard to see yourself in a positive light when – if you are like me – you spend most of your days feeling like crap, in pajamas, eating junk food (that is if you aren’t too nauseous), and watching trashy TV. Sometimes all it takes to start to see yourself differently is putting on a nicer pair of pajamas (I used to wear gross stained ones all of the time, and I still do, but if it’s a particularly bad day I avoid these because I know they will only make me feel worse about myself), wearing a cute pair of shoes (doesn’t have to be heels, it can be sparkly converse, just something that makes you feel pretty and special), or doing your hair differently. It’s honestly that simple.
Having a chronic illness doesn’t make you “ugly”, “unworthy”, “undesirable”, or “not sexy”. You are how you see yourself. I chose to start thinking of myself as beautiful, worthy, desirable, and sexy. And you know what? A lot has changed for me just because of my paradigm shift. I challenge you all to do the same.