9 December 2011

Body Image Amidst TTC and Chronic Illness

In the past few years, my body image has faced a couple of heavy hitters. We have been trying to conceive for an estimated twenty-four cycles (not sure of the exact number) without a positive. I have endometriosis which leaves me fatigued and in pain on select days throughout the month. Now we are on the cusp of starting fertility treatments, and I've read that fertility medications can cause your weight to fluctuate, hair to change, stomach to swell, skin to break out. Holy shit, what else? My uterus might pop up and sing me a lullaby? To say the least, maintaining a positive body image is a constant battle.

I think it is common to have negative feelings toward your body when it has disappointed you in some way, shape or form. It is easy to get discouraged when you are trying month after month to do something that is supposed to just be a natural part of life, and it isn't happening. It has made me feel inadequate. It has made me angry. It has made my anxiety soar.

When I was first diagnosed with severe endometriosis, I was relieved to finally have an answer to my pain and misery. However, I was also upset. Why did I have to have this condition? I felt like writing my body a little note. "Dear body, F*CK YOU!"

I get good sleep. I don't smoke. I'm not overweight. I get adequate exercise. I shower daily. I do yoga.

WHY?

If this is about the time that I didn't work out for weeks at a time or ate all that cheese or made some other bad bodily decision...look, I'm sorry. I repent. I bow down to you.

WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?

I struggle often to be okay with my reality. It doesn't always happen. I've been through a lot of rough patches, and continue to work on eradicating the bad feelings.

Here are some things that have helped...

(a) Consistent exercise (duh). Sweating helps me feel like I'm making a difference. Some days I consider a simple walk outside exercise. I've also found that muscle tone is the key to sexiness which is the key to actually liking how my body looks. Self-esteem booster! Modified push-ups are always a good place to start in the muscle department.

(b) Eating well (duh). This is always easier said than done. See part (c) below.

(c) Giving myself a break. I might not be able to do everything I want to do, but I'm still doing pretty good physically. Bad days are what they are; bad days. I try to remember that they are always followed by good days. One meal of junk and fat can always be followed by a healthy food decision. Give yourself a BREAK.

(d) Trying to remember that (as far as I know) there is still a good possibility that I will one day be pregnant.

(e) Not getting too far ahead of myself. Endometriosis is a chronic, long term condition. It may never go away. Getting too far ahead of myself causes paralyzing fear. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, baby steps, etc. Remembering to live by these mantras has never failed to calm my anxiety.

As women, we battle issues of body image every day for a variety of different reasons. What are your reasons? Have you overcome your issues or are you still dealing with them?


5 comments:

  1. I went on my first diet when I was 11 years old. Then the summer after 7th grade, I went through puberty and entered 8th grade a giant, bloated cow while all my friends were still skinny little sticks. That, I think, is what started my obsession with body image. I suffered through eating disorders but in the end, after a decade, I realized that I am who I am and people can either accept it or now. The important thing is that *I* accepted it.

    I'm always thinking about you!

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  2. While I can't imagine your struggle, I have to applaud you for your honesty and determination. I wish there was an answer to your questions of why but i think that as you continue to approach your issues the way you are, you will find comfort in knowing you are taking care of you the best way possible!

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  3. i love reading your blog for it's authenticity and honesty. do take care of yourself!! i'm going through my 2nd miscarriage... traumatizing but at least i am still alive. :/ i'm currently going through the "what is wrong with me phase?" but i'm hoping i will pull through and see my other options. i might try acupuncture/herbal medicine. have you ever tried that? **big hugs~!**

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  4. My worst, most annoying issue is facial hair. It's a symptom of PCOS that I THOUGHT I was done with when I had an ovary removed, but it's very true what they say about PCOS. It's systemic. Once it's there, it's there (unless you're one of the few who manage to get pregnant, as that can act as a hormonal "reset" button). I've often described PCOS as the most de-womanizing illness. (Not only can you not get pregnant with the "normal" ease, but you can't lose weight, can gain it by looking at something bad for you or eating too much salad, have acne despite your age and skin routine, and hair in places most women think it shouldn't be.) Ideally, I need to get my chin waxed twice a month, but I can't afford it (and doing it myself isn't as effective), so I end up trimming it, living with it, and going once a month. I HATE it!
    But I learned that as long as I don't call attention to my flaws, most people overlook them. I remember that I do not walk into a room with a big "DEFECTIVE" sign over my head. I remind myself that my husband and I will probably get a lot of unwanted physical stuff happening over the years, so this isn't that big of a deal, and I move on. (A little make up doesn't hurt either.)
    I have to agree with all your advice! Positive self-talk is a HUGE help! Good blog chika!

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  5. We love you Carly. And I'm praying for you that your life starts getting easier, happier, and more fulfilled. You're a great person and you totally deserve it

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