Having some pretty massive self image issues right now. Something I had never experienced prior to this, body dysmorphia. I always thought it was stupid to fixate on something like weight, but then, I was lucky and managed to keep a decent weight without much effort.
Sure I always had bits of my body I didn't like, everyone does, but I could always look in a mirror and say "ok, so my guts a bit wobbly and my excess body hair is a bit embarrassing but i can hide that under clothes and hell yes that booty!"
Even after 3 kids I could look at my stretch marks and horrible scars and think "yeah well, you never liked showing off you belly anyway. At least the rest is still ok."
And even after I gained weight (hey, three kids will do that) I still felt secure, comfortable and HAPPY with my appearance. I could look at myself in a mirror and think "you scrub up ok girl."
Hell, some days I could even get "yeah, you're looking hot."
For me, it wasn't ever about anyone else thinking I looked good, all that mattered was that I thought I looked good. And I did, I kinda liked that my body shaped had changed from hourglass to pear, I liked my wide hips and wide bum. I loved my frizzy hair that could become such lovely curls if I put the effort in, my skin which tanned great in the summer and was milky white in the winter. My eyes which were I thought, an attractive almond shape, so dark brown they were almost black. I liked that people told me they made me look "exotic".
Whenever I was feeling down, when I was feeling insecure about other elements of myself and my ability, i'd crawl into my wardrobe and dig out something pretty to wear. Something I knew would make me feel awesome. An outfit I could look in the mirror and think "hell yes, you're rocking that." and life wouldn't feel so bad after all. Getting dressed up made me feel better, be it a posh frock or a ridiculous costume, it made me feel better to draw attention, to proudly strut my stuff and exude that "don't you wish you could rock bunny ears in public" attitude.
Confidence. Anyone who's spent any extended period of time with me would tell you, one thing I never lacked was confidence. I may not have much faith in my artisitic ability, I may be rather coy about my writing and I know I have massive personality flaws, but I could go out and exude confidence because I LIKED what I saw in the mirror.
It was small, shallow, stupid little thing, but it was my thing.
To be able to look at myself and say "you know what, you may feel worthless and shitty right now, but how about we go get the builders down the road to wolf whistle as you pass and you'll feel a bit better."
Yes, it was ridiculous, but going out dressed as a clown or something, when other people smiled it made me smile.
No matter what I wore, I did it because it made me feel better, it gave me attention and when i'm depressed, attention is something I crave. When you feel ignored and worthless and shit, having a couple of people come over and say "why ARE you dressed like a victorian school mam?" distracts you from all that.
When a child sees you and smiles and their mother also smiles, you feed off that positive reaction. You suddenly matter, just a teeny tiny bit. Your existence had for a fleeting moment, some impact on another person's day.
And it made me feel good when guys eyed me up too, i'm not gonna lie, it's nice to feel attractive and sexy and whatever.
But, it's all over now.
You see, whatever is wrong with me has caused such massive and generalised swelling, I can no longer recognise that face staring back at me from the mirror. All I see is a haggard, old, fat bitch staring back. I don't know who she is, but I don't like her.
None of my clothes fit her, nothing looks good on her, she just looks bloated and awful all the time.
And other people see her and they don't smile, they don't wolf whistle, they look away. Because they see just what I see. A fat ugly old woman who'd be better wearing a sack than trying to fit into that dress she's wearing.
I wonder if they whisper "I think she's had enough of them pies" when they see me with a pasty in one hand. I wouldn't be surprised.
Because I don't look sick, if I looked sick i'd get sympathy. No, I look in dire need of a diet.
I managed to have three kids and put on next to no weight at all. And right up till my youngest's first birthday I was fine in my body image. Maybe I could have lost a couple of kilos, but overall, I was able to look at myself and think I looked ok. I could stand to see myself naked, which now... I just can't deal with.
Worrying about how I looked was never something I did. I didn't need to worry because in my head, I looked FINE and screw anyone who thought otherwise. My self image was one of confidence, I liked the body I saw in the mirror, flabby bits and all. It was mine and it wasn't half bad.
I want that body back. I want all those lumps and bumps. the gross hairs that gross across my stomach, the chin hairs that seem to grow up overnight and start to curl before I realise they're there and tweaze them out. I'll take the monobrow and the flabby belly and the huge stretch mark gashes. The crooked yellow teeth and the wierd hammer toes.
I'm fine with all those flaws, they're MY flaws and they're part of my identity, part of the person I see in my mind's eye. But this person looking out the mirror at me now... she's a stranger, and I don't like her one bit.
She has bulges where bulges shouldn't be. She has comicly small hands because her arms have bingo wings. She has no ankles and knees on the backs of her fucking legs. She has three chins and acne and squinty little pig eyes. She's ugly and I hate her, and I want her to go away.
I want my body back, I want to be able to wear MY clothes and MY shoes and feel comfortable again. I don't want to feel like the only clothes appropriate are a bhurka or a sack.
I want to feel like ME again, and honestly, i'm not sure that's ever going to happen.
What started as swollen hands back in April has turned me into this... thing. Two courses of diuretics did nothing, didn't even make a dent and that was before the swelling got to this extent. in 6 months my weight has ballooned to a point i'm not even recognisable, I wonder if people who actually know me but haven't seen me in a while would even recognise me.
I think it would take them a while.
And that's what i'm finding so hard. On top of the fear of whatever's wrong with me, on top of the stress and frustration of the NHS delaying figuring that out, I have to walk around in someone else's skin.
I just can't deal with it. with no guarantee that i'll ever see myself again, I think I just want to call it quits now, crawl into a hole and never come out again.