10 Strategies to Help You Feel Beautiful When You're Chronically Ill


Let’s face it. It’s hard to feel attractive in your own skin when you feel like your body is turning on you.

If I am sick, I struggle with feeling beautiful in my own skin. I remember becoming sicker and sicker, and people would continue to tell me how great I looked. I’m sure I looked at a few of these people like they had three eyes. I may have looked great, but honestly at times, I felt like I was dying. That is the thing about having an invisible illness. There are times when it can all feel like a cruel joke.

It’s hard to feel attractive when you are crawling from room to room… or when your stomach is distended from gastroparesis… or when you’re throwing up because you are so dizzy and your blood pressure has plummeted… or when you are taking a shower and some of your hair falls out because you are not getting enough blood to your brain. It’s hard to feel attractive when your fatigue is so severe, you feel as if you have a never-ending case of the flu.

But in my opinion it is possible and it’s something that takes time and conscious effort. As I have learned to live with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, I have found that the following strategies often help me:

1. Find a purpose. When I am working towards something I feel really passionate about, I feel good in my own skin.

2. Give. When I am doing something for someone else, I can’t help but feel better about myself.

3. Have a sense of humor. Find a way to laugh at yourself. If you have to wear the horribly, ugly compression stockings that roll down the minute you get them on because they help you stay upright longer, make a joke about how sexy they make you feel.

4. Once in a while, get dressed up and strut your stuff. This year I have worn more dresses to school. When people comment that “I’m so dressed up,” I usually just shrug it off… but in the back of my head, I am more often than not thinking about the year I could not work and became so sick of the same few pairs of yoga pants I wore day in and day out. At times, you should not underestimate the power of a beautiful pair of earrings or a new shirt.

5. Accomplish a goal. Nothing makes me feel more in control of my body then when I accomplish something I have worked hard for, or even fought for.

6. When people tell you, you look great try saying thanks. And then believe them. They usually mean it, and are speaking out of love and kindness. This is something I continue to work on.

7. Do something for your body. Believe it or not, I have come to realize that it is not my enemy. It is begging to be loved and cared for; especially during my sickest times. Eat healthy. Drink a lot of water. Make a lifestyle change. Take a nap. Strengthen muscles… even if you have to lie on the floor to do so. I believe there is always some kind of exercise you can do to help your body.

8. Sleep and rest. Sleep is my best friend. I feel the best after I’ve had plenty of rest. People who know me best, know not to mess with my sleep.

9. Surround yourself with positivity. When you are around people who bring out your best self, it is hard not to let your light shine through.

10. Finally, practice positive self-talk. We are our biggest critics. Give yourself a break once in a while and tell yourself you are beautiful. This is the body you have for life. You can either choose to hate it or love it. Find the beauty within and love it to the core.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock Image By: BerSonnE


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

new customized digital tools for optimal health graphic

My Fight to Bring Awareness of Autoimmunity to SXSW

We all want to be healthy. But the reality remains, many people are not well. Millions teeter precariously on the edge between health and chronic disease: for example, obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and 100+ autoimmune diseases. So why do recent health trends emphasize wellness and fitness more than preventing or managing disease? This was the [...]
Sitting girl, hand drawing watercolor illustration

When My Illness Demands That I 'Micromanage' My Body

In the six weeks since I’ve sprained my ankle, I’ve become aware of what every muscle and joint in my foot is used during particular movements. Mainly due to the pain I feel in particular areas of my foot when I’m walking at varying speeds, moving up and down stairs, driving, etc. Obviously I have [...]
Female Doctor Meeting With Patient In Exam Room

The Daunting Task of Finding a New Doctor After Moving Away

Having a chronic illness, we rely so much on our medical team. We visit them on a regular basis and they become someone we can talk to about anything. They know our fears, our illnesses, what medications work and what doesn’t. The general doctor or primary doctor works with all your specialists and ties them [...]
leather purse with keychains

Why I Splurge on the Everyday Items I Need for My Disease

For those of us with chronic illnesses, it may seem obvious that pampering is a good thing. After all, being pampered makes us feel special. And with all the pain and other effects we endure from our different illnesses, that is the last thing we feel on a day-to-day basis. So it is a feeling [...]