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How Lupus Taught Me to Love My Body

“Why should I love my body if it doesn’t do the bare minimum for me?” I’ve been asking myself this question since getting diagnosed with lupus last year.

With all the ailments that my condition has thrown my way, I have missed out on a large part of my youth. While all my peers are out partying, I am at home stuck in bed.

As time passed, I started to become more aware of the little voice in the back of my head feeding me negative thoughts.

How can I find pleasure when I can’t even stay in the sun for more than 10 minutes? If I’m not careful with everything I do, I risk going into a flare.

I started agreeing with those voices. Those voices got louder and I became bitter at myself and resented those around me who were healthy. I started to view taking care of myself as a chore, a punishment. I fell into a depression that had me wallowing in self-pity.

Why should I bother?

It wasn’t until my therapist asked me, “How about instead of focusing on what your body can’t do, focus on the things it can do?” that I realized despite my body being constantly under attack, it was still fighting to keep me alive.

Instead of reveling in my limitations, I became thankful. What if I savor the healthy foods that offer nourishment? What if I let myself enjoy the warmth my bed provides when I hit the hay from a particularly rough day?

Placating myself into this new mindset gave me an odd sense of appreciation for chronic illness. It’s still challenging at times; when a new medication fails or I’m feeling particularly crummy, I still hear that voice reminding me of how healthy people are out working and contributing to society while I’m stuck in bed, or how I’m missing out on yet another get-together with friends.

I learned there is power in acknowledging and feeling the sadness, grief and frustration over the person I once was, but it shouldn’t stop me from loving the new stronger, wiser version of myself.

Getty image by Berk085.