Say Cheese!

June marks the tenth anniversary of when I first became sick. Ten years since life as I knew it ceased to exist. Ten years of more devastation, loss, and anguish than I thought one lifetime could possibly possess. During the last ten years, I've reached some severe lows. Like many people who live in chronic pain, eventually my appearance became the last thing in the world I cared about. I hurt too much to give a rats woo-ha how meth-addicted my long, dark roots looked against my bleached-blonde hair. When my chronic fatigue syndrome/ME was so bad I had to choose between taking a shower and emptying the dishwasher, the dishwasher usually won. Between the weight gain and medication-induced apathy, panic and fear over my crumbling ability to care for myself, and that faithful friend called depression to accompany all of this misery, I let myself go.

I didn't just let myself go. I wouldn't shower for days. I'd greet both the sun and the moon wearing the same sweatpants, again and again and again. Makeup became something I put on for work because, after all, I was a makeup artist and kinda had to. After my strokes and post-Prednisone weight explosion, I fit into exactly one pair of pants. I wasn't working anymore, had no friends, no money to buy new clothes, and never went anywhere with my frizzled-out brain anyway, so I stopped caring about what I looked like. I shunned both the mirror and camera with equal vigor and retreated into hermit-ville to write my book. 

Eventually I found my way back from the dark abyss of chronic illness sucking up my entire existence. It wasn't until I started juicing that I began caring about how I looked again. Not spending most of my days in a horrible flare left me with enough frivolity in my life to want to look better. I dug out my cases of makeup and tried to remember how to put it on. I forced myself to shower every day until I started to feel nasty when I didn't. My shoulder didn't hurt so bad anymore, so I started straightening my hair. Except I still wasn't working. It seemed completely absurd to go to all the effort, only to sit on my sofa by myself and write my book.

Enter Instagram. My profile is selfie-obsessed on purpose. After so many years of self-neglect, I had to get comfortable with the woman I saw in the mirror again. So I forced myself to take my own picture every flippin' day and publish it on the world wide web. Ahhhhh! It was so awkward at first! I felt like an idiot. A self-obsessed, conceited, superficial ninny. Eventually I got over my self-consciousness, remembered I was doing it for a reason, and started having fun. Today caring about my appearance has become about so much more than my vanity. It's yet one more thing sickness stole from me, that I fought my ass off to win back.

Thanks for joining,
Leah

#fibromyalgia #chronicillness #chronicpain #sickness #vanity #selfie #appearance       

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