Monday, December 11, 2017

Weight and Chronic Illness

I’ll start this post with a trigger warning because weights will be discussed in numbers, so if this is something that triggers you, I’d suggest skipping over this one.



One of my best friends and I have both been through the ringer when it comes to weight. She has Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction, and I have Intestinal Dysmotility but we don’t know exactly what parts are involved yet. The point is, we both lost our appetites, generally feel nauseous all the time, she couldn’t hold anything down and we both dropped a significant amount of weight.

My weight loss was split into two sections, which I’ll explain in a minute. We were both what some considered “chubby” prior to the weight loss. She’s much taller than me but we were probably around the same size proportionally. During the first section of my weight loss, I was put on Vyvanse for ADD, and lost my appetite. I weighed over 140 pounds and am 5 feet tall. I was at my highest weight ever. With this appetite loss and diversions to certain foods, I lost 20 pounds. I was thrilled with my new body that I did nothing to obtain. I had to get rid of all my big baggy clothes and trade them in for new, smaller ones. 

I maintained that healthy weight for about a year before my gastrointestinal issues seemed to get worse, which is my current situation. Like I said, no appetite, relentless nausea, and abdominal pain. In the last few months, I lost over another 20 pounds. Now I’m bordering underweight, and am desperate for help in that department. It could be a mix of my liver issues with my dysmotility, or it could be something else.

The weight fluctuations that can come with chronic illness are HARD. I had to get a new wardrobe after my first weight loss, and now those don’t fit me anymore. My friend went through the exact same thing. We’ve pretty much been every size of clothing. 

Because of society’s standards and what we see in Hollywood, people we know who aren’t close to us might make comments; “You look so good! What diet are you using?”, “What did you do so I can do it?”, “You look phenomenal!”

In the meantime, we’re here thinking... you don’t want to use my diet. The way I lost this weight was not healthy. It also caused months of pain and suffering that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. 

And then we have the opposite end of the spectrum. Gaining weight from chronic illness. This is how I ended up at 140 to begin with... my sedentary life due to my illness. But others gain for different reasons. Medications, treatments, nothing comes without a side effect, and for a lot of those it’s weight gain. Some illnesses even cause weight gain.

This is the part where we get to talking about body appreciation, and learning to love the skin you’re in. How is one supposed to have time to do the mental work it takes to love your body and feel comfortable the way you are, when your body is constantly changing? You finally get used to one weight, and the next thing you know, you’re having to adjust to something else. 

Learning to love your body at its highest weight can be a tall task. But over time, it’s doable. 

Learning to love your body at your lowest weight, well... you may not like the circumstances, but you might be pleased with your newfound small body. The problem is, is that then you get used to it. And as you recover and get the proper medical treatment, or go on a medication that causes weight gain, you can feel every pound that adds on, and it feels weird.... because yet again, you have to adjust to your new body, but you just adjusted to your recent one. 

And this cycle can repeat itself many times. How, in this day and age, are you supposed to love and accept every part of your body at all different weights? It’s yet another challenge we face that isn’t talked about frequently.

To my friends with chronic illness going through this... you are not alone. Learning to love your body one way is hard enough with all the pressure from society, but learning to love multiple versions of your body is another challenge in itself. And I am so proud of every one of you chronic illness ladies and gents who are doing your best every day to try to love yourself the way the way you are. And having to do it over, and over again. 

I’ll end this with a quote, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”- C.S. Lewis


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