What I Realized About Fibromyalgia From Finally Looking at Pictures of Myself
I have a chronic condition. Well actually, I have several, but the one that is most obvious to other people is my physical illness – and that’s because I now use a stick when I am able to help me to walk. But I also have some serious mental health issues which are maybe not so obvious from the outside, but with which I struggle on a daily basis, at least as much as with the physical issues.
A few days ago, I was doing something which I would normally never ever do because I find it so distressing; but I set myself a challenge, and started to look through some pictures of myself – recent ones – to share with my significant other, who doesn’t really have any images of me because I hate them so much.
I really have to concentrate very, very hard to be able to actually see myself in mirrors and photographs. Over the years I have found that I actually blank out pictures of me because I have such issues around identity and image. What I found, when I eventually managed to look properly, was such a shock to me.
I have never really understood that how I feel can be reflected in how I look, necessarily. I did know that I could (and did) use makeup as a mask, wearing it at times when I felt most threatened and anxious in order to make myself feel less exposed and vulnerable.
The pictures here were all taken within months of each other.
They are all me – from times when I felt stable and able to cope, to the exhausting, painful aftermath of a fibro flare, to the sad results of medication and my inability to exercise or even mobilize the way I was used to, which had enabled me to lose a huge amount of weight, which I have regained with interest.
Seeing these for the first time has been hard, but it has also helped me to accept that I am in no way embellishing my conditions.
They do affect me, probably more than I realize at times, and I need to learn to be kinder to myself.
It has also shown me that my SO genuinely loves me, not just the way I look, or my shape. He sees me in every state, supports me when I am at my lowest as well as when I am at my best, and he is the one who reminds me not only that I’m not superhuman, but that I don’t have to be. I’m not perfect, but I am perfect for him. Now I need to learn to love myself as much as he loves me.
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