I used to have a good relationship with my body. I wasn't perfect, but I accepted myself for the most part.
I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease (a chronic bowel disease) about a year ago. It's not severe, as of yet- I know how lucky I am. I take tablets that have few side effects, my diet is only restricted a little. But my body isn't able to extract vitamins and nutrients properly and that takes its toll. My skin is in a pretty dire state; my nails peel off in layers. I'm also constantly bloated- not just a little, but full on, 'when's the baby due?' distended stomach.
And really, for the last six months or so, I've been stuck in a rut. I hate how I look. The stomach combined with the curvy hips I used to love now makes me look like a triangle, a dollop. I found peace with my body and it betrayed me. I'm in my early twenties: I want to go out, wear fashionable clothes, feel beautiful. Now I cry when I look in the mirror. I'm in a long term relationship and my boyfriend is supportive but a little clueless. He doesn't know how to react. He doesn't seem to understand that I don't feel attractive anymore.
I feel guilty, because I know that I am being vain and ungrateful - with Crohn's, I could have ended up becoming dangerously underweight or with a colostomy bag instead. But I feel that my sparkle has gone out.
I know this isn't healthy, but I don't know what to do. My friends and family say that I need to appreciate my inner beauty, the good things about my appearance, accept who I am. It's so easy to say, but so difficult to do. I play sport, I try to eat healthily, but I often feel more guilty than positive about this- that I'm not doing 'enough.' Really, I don't know where to start.
TL;DR: what practical advice do you have for improving your body image and confidence? Accepting yourself is a journey- but how do you get there?
I don't know, honestly. I'm going through a very similar thing as you. I had terrible acne all through high school and college and finally went on Accutane. It pretty much all cleared up, but I have extensive scarring. Not just like a little mark here and there, all over my cheeks. And of course, every new bump or red mark or whatever makes me freak out that it's going to come back again.
I think it's really hard to love ourselves, and when we have "flaws" that others can perceive too it makes it really, really hard. My dad dragged me to a doctor to talk about scar treatments - I'm grateful he's willing to pay for them for me but also feel like if it's a big deal to my own father, surely that's all anyone sees when they look at me.
What helps me is to get dressed up and/or look at myself in flattering lights. Also telling myself of my good qualities, internal AND external. It's not easy and often contributes to my depression a great deal but I think too it has made me more empathetic to others. Plus, my face is not one you soon forget, for better or worse :) So...at least I'm memorable!
Maybe start a board or a jar where you write one good thing you think about yourself each day. Things like, "this dress looks amazing on me" or "I solved that crossword puzzle in record time". Anything that YOU do that makes YOU feel good.
I wish you the best of luck. I know how hard it really can be.
We're all works in progress, so you're not alone. Especially when you have a chronic condition like Crohn's, your relationship with your body evolves and changes. I'm sorry you're going through a rough patch right now
Seeing a therapist or counselor might help. There are therapists out there who specialize in working with people around body image and even those who specialize in working with people who have chronic illnesses. They could help you work through the emotions and thoughts and discover positive coping strategies you can use everyday. A site like Psychology Today is a good place to start or Good Therapy. Sites like Eating Disorder HOPE also have information and resources on dealing with body image issues.
Thank you for replying- I was feeling so down when I made this post and had to step away from the Internet for a little while. I kept checking and reading your replies and they really buoyed me up :)
So far I haven't found any supplements that work, but I am trying to use some deep repair nail varnish. Sounds like a stupid thing, but as something small it has helped me feel proactive.
Small things, really, have been helping. I've been trying to take a selfie or a photo when I feel good about myself. What really helped though was downloading some proper photo editing software. It made me realize that you can do anything with the right app, just on your phone. It's a good reminder that what we're seeing isn't always real. Even if you're not Photoshopping someone's actual body, changing the light makes all the difference!
I thought they'd be loads of body image help stuff on the Internet these days. Turns out there's less than you think. Which is sad, really.
I was walking tonight and saw people staring at my stomach wondering was I pregnant. I know how horrible it feels. I've bowel problems too and can't see to lose any weight. Just know that it is hard and sometimes we put on weight and other times lose it.
It became like a sort of prison. Encased in a silver shell, words so full of bleeding need spilled like drops on dry leaves. And all the while laughter prevailed a long way from here. Nowhere land, nowhere time, nowhere space.