This week I read a newsletter written for women with chronic illness, and I was inspired to try a different approach to my mornings. I put more effort into my routine by showering, moisturizing, fixing my hair, putting on a bit of makeup, and wearing a cute (and comfy) outfit. I took things more slowly than I did when I was healthy, and I made a few changes to my old routine, but I did it. Those of you who live with illness know that being able to get ready and look “normal” is an accomplishment in itself. I dealt with physical pain most of the day, and my symptoms remained the same, but I felt good about myself. And I felt confident about my appearance for the first time in too long.
We know that illness affects the body, but we don’t always consider how chronic illness changes the way we see our bodies. There have been dozens of times I’ve thought to myself, “I am fighting against this body” or “I wish my body would cooperate today.” In the process, I’ve seen it as something that I battle. It’s been challenging to love the very thing I am fighting against. I’ve decided that I need to change my point of view. I started by following a morning routine in which I care for my body. It’s helped me change my perception of what I’ll look like while living with this illness. I know that I won’t be able to blow dry my hair or shower on my really bad days, but I am learning to do what I can to help myself feel better about the body I am in.
You see, I can’t change my illness. I can manage it, accommodate it, and be grateful for good days, but none of that will make it disappear. It’s taken me months to accept that my life will not be what I’d expected. That doesn’t mean that my life is less worthwhile, but it changes how I think about my future. Accepting a new way of life means that I have to be more intentional about caring for my body because it’s not as resilient as it was before. I will need to use my transport chair sometimes, and I may be judged for looking “normal” while riding in it. I may get stares from strangers who don’t understand that I need a lot of help, even though I don’t look terrible that day. And that sucks. However, I refuse to feel bad about how I look in order to cater to the misconception that illness is always visible. I will not let ignorant people determine the way I live my life, and I won’t hate my body because it doesn’t function the way I’d like. Instead, I’ll do the best I can to enjoy the life I’ve been given.
Today I am reminding myself that life can be beautiful when it’s not perfect, and I am challenging myself to treat my body well every day.
If you’re looking for more inspiration on this topic, I recommend checking out Lottie Ryan’s newsletter.