4 Ways My Illnesses Affect What I Wear


The everlasting question…What do I wear? First of all, I feel extremely lucky but also cursed to have gone to Catholic high school. In one aspect, I never had to worry about what to wear. Other than a few days a year for dress down day, choosing an outfit was never a thought that had to enter my mind except if I had plans on the weekend. For four years. It was glorious.

It did affect me negatively however, because I feel like due to the fact that I was “told” what to wear throughout high school, followed by years of college and nannying where I could wear anything I wanted, I never really had to dress like an “adult” until I worked in a school. Now my, “What do I wear?” has a completely different meaning behind it. I work one to two days per week and am not able to go out much. When I go to a doctor’s appointment, I wear comfy clothes. Sometimes comfy means cute leggings and a top, while other times it literally means baggy sweats and a sweatshirt, just rolling out of bed and into the car. But what about the days when I need to go out? How do my illnesses limit what I’m able to wear?

1. Hips

My hips have been an ongoing problem for years now. As a result, I can’t wear heels. That may not sound like an issue to some people, but when you’re not able to wear them because you can’t, not because you don’t want to, it’s a different story. The last time I wore heels was a wedding in July 2015. I was in so much pain that I had to sit down the second half of the wedding and had to go to bed as soon as it was over. I’ve even been in two wedding parties since then and have had to wear flats. It still upsets me from time to time, but the pain isn’t worth it so I’ve learned to wear cute flats when I have to go to a wedding or fancy event.

2. Dysautonomia Issues

Due to having postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and even low grade lupus fevers, my body has trouble regulating it’s temperature at times. I frequently deal with fevers which make me go from sweating to freezing. I never know how I’m going to feel temperature wise. No one likes being in a car with me because if I’m cold and bundled up, I sweat everyone out of the car by putting the heat on. I always have to dress in or bring layers with me. I usually wear a tank top, long sleeved or short sleeved shirt and bring a sweatshirt and a jacket. On the bottom I’ll wear leggings or sweats, or even leggings under sweats because sometimes one isn’t enough. I also always have a hat, scarf and gloves on hand in the winter. The unpredictability of your body temperature can be frustrating, but I’ve definitely learned to accommodate.

3. Joint Pain

Sometimes something as simple as buttoning pants or zipping up a jacket can be painful. Depending on my pain level, I have to determine what I’ll be able to physically put on that day. Dresses are easy. Also, simply getting dressed slowly and sitting down helps. Although compression socks are tough to put on, they’re something that are necessary to wear to help control my POTS symptoms. So, if my hands are hurting or I’m extremely fatigued, I’ve learned that if I have to sit down and take 10 minutes to put tight socks on – it’ll be worth it. This used to seriously aggravate me at the beginning. But patience is key, especially when dealing with chronic pain.

4. Weight

Weight fluctuations have been something I’ve been struggling with significantly for the past year. This isn’t something many people know, but I’ve been to a number of doctors because earlier this year I lost a large amount of weight in a short period of time. It was decided that it was probably from all of the medication I’m on, and technically I fall within an OK weight range, but unintentional weight loss and lack of appetite for food is the definition of anorexia…which I’ve been diagnosed with by three different doctors. (This isn’t to be confused with the psychological condition, anorexia nervosa, rather just a significant loss in weight and lack of appetite.)

None of my clothes fit me anymore. I was wearing baggy clothes the majority of the time until my gastroenterologist commented that it makes me look more sick. Now I try to either wear a fitted top or bottom. I can’t afford to restock my entire wardrobe…So for now, I have to deal with wearing clothes that don’t fit me the way they should. And it’s incredibly embarrassing. Once again, accommodation is key. Leggings are life.

I know many people would love to wear sweats every day, but it’s nice to feel pretty sometimes. I’m learning some brands I like that have cute and comfortable apparel.

I’m sure there will be ups and downs and changes I’ll encounter with my illnesses that will make choosing what to wear a struggle. For now all I can do is learn from the hand I’m dealt, and share my cards with others.

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