Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Have Let Myself Go

I gave my husband a handy-dandy new techno-fab phone for his birthday last week that he is quite enamored with. He was playing with the camera last night and took some pictures of me...and when I saw them I started crying! I LOOK AWFUL! My face looks like a pasty-puffy round basketball, my blonde hair blending into the illusion, providing no contrast, no definition. I have LUGGAGE packed and ready to go for a month in Europe under my eyes and wish my chins stopped at double. Everyone tells me this is what Prednisone does to you, it's water weight, chipmunk cheeks, you look fine, don't worry. But I am worried! Horrified, embarrassed and really really mad! I have only gained back the 10 lbs. I lost in the hospital at the end of July but my face looks like it did when I was 30 lbs. heavier on Lyrica. I can blame some of this on the steroids, but have to take responsibility for my part as well. I have been eating. A lot. My portions are BIG, I eat for pure enjoyment, not a thought to calorie or consequence and I could visit Yogurtland daily, no problem. Oh yes, I am definitely contributing heavily to this weight gain. I have 2 choices here, keep it up and wind up HUGE at the end of the 4 months of treatment or take control of the situation NOW and fight the urge to stuff my face so I don't have such a big mountain to climb when I am finally off my hated-yet-needed-to-stay-alive-drug.

It is so important to feel confident in your appearance. Us Fibro's often hear "But you don't look sick!" and cringe at the unfairness of it all. Glad we don't look as bad as we feel, we are often imprisoned in a painful cell shrouded with ivy and roses. This is one of the reasons Fibromyalgia is so dismissed. But eventually this disease takes its toll on the outside as well. As we enter deep levels of sleep deprivation, fall victim to the side-effects of the many drugs, lose our ability to exercise and set our faces in a permanent frown-meets-grimace reflecting the hurt on the inside, we become shadows of our former selves. It is easy to stop caring about what is reflecting back in the mirror. It is hard to take pride in the effort and energy it takes to primp and fluff oneself up when there is simply no energy to spare. It seems like a waste to slather on makeup or coif your hair just to sit at home alone and feel miserable. But the reality of the situation is that as Fibromyalgia shreds us apart on the inside we are accepting it that much more by not fighting back on the outside. Think back to a time before you got sick (for some a lifetime ago) and had something like a common flu. After a couple of days of misery in bed-sweats and sleep-delirium the fever would break and you would drag your weak-but-feeling-somewhat-improved self into the shower. That action alone made you feel better, and on the road to recovery you were...

I have been home from hospitalization for the strokes almost 2 months now and am realizing I am falling into this trap again. I rarely wear makeup, throw on comfie "slipper clothes" every day and pay little attention to who is looking back at me in the mirror. Yesterday was a big wake-up call. If I want to be sick then I can live looking sick, but if I want to improve I must project that desire on the outside of my body, the 1 place I can actually control what is going on. So I may have a face as round as a basketball but damn it if I don't have a little blush and eyeliner on to balance out the puffiness. I may be bloated and hurting and have not 1 bit of energy to spare but garsh darn it, I am putting on jeans instead of sweats and brushing my hair! I am determined to look in the mirror and see a person that still, despite all the hardship, cares who is looking back at her.

Thanks for joining,


  1. Wow!!! This could have been written by me, minus the strokes. God bless you for writing this. It is a wake up call for me to try and take care of how I look, rather than looking how I feel~~

    Is there a way for me to get your posts by email?

    Thank you,

  2. I think you can sign up to "follow" and they will email you when I post. It is on the right side. I believe you have to create a user ID & password...

    I like that "Take care of how I look instead of looking how I feel"... Awesome!

  3. Leah, This really hit home for me as I am having the same issue.I am glad I am not alone.The weight gain from the cymbalta and lyrica have bloated me badly.It really hit me when I had to take off my wedding ring because my fingers were so bloated.Before I got sicker I had lost a lot of weight,and I have gained every one back and more.I am in so much pain from the fibro and my back that I cant do much.I cried when I read your blog.I looked in the mirror and saw a bloated blob,with dark circles under my eyes.I thank you for this post as it made me see that I am not alone.By the way, you look great.Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves, and see the imperfections.We are going through a lot and we have a lot of heart, and we need to carry ourselves with pride.We are fighting a terrible condition and we need to fight it back and regain our self esteem.Baby steps,little by little, we will get better and it will show.

  4. I feel the same way, "wow" as Ann said. I feel like this was written about me as well. Thanks leah for is embarrassing to feel and look this way....most of the time it feels hopeless..yet for the grace of God I get thru another day.

    Thanks again,


  5. Oh those 2 did a number on me too! No, we are not alone, we are actually in very good company! And that picture you see was NOT taken yesterday. Those went to "delete" and I will take another one in a month ;)

  6. Yogurtland...enough said. Thank you for posting, and God Bless for staying strong through the pain. I look forward to more of your posts!


  7. I have gained about 70 lbs since I got sick. Tried the Lyrica, Savella,etc... Now I'm on Cymbalta. It seems to be the only thing that stops my crying. I had a gastric bypass in 2003 and maintained my weight loss for 5 years. Now I am almost bedbound. I never dress and makeup? No way. I have to go to my son's wedding next month and I dread putting on clothes. I wish I could get motivated to dress and act like a normal human being again. Thank you for your honesty. It is encouraging. Jane

  8. Oh Jane hang in there! It is so hard to not become consumed by this. Surround yourself with positive people that understand (even if the only place you can find them is on Facebook) and it will help keep your spirits up. God bless are in my prayers.

  9. Besides the CFIDS/Fibro/Asthma/Migraines, etc., I developed cellulitis in the feet and legs two years ago. I gained so much weight, mainly from not being able to be mobile. It hit home to me when I saw pics of myself. The last year, I hated myself! I found the self-hatred wore me down so much that I had to stop...when I could slowly start to exercise, I knew that I would know. This last March, I started getting on the treadmill...2 minutes a day for the first week. I cried as I felt that was so lame but it was better than nothing. I am now down by 18 lbs!! I am so excited even though I've got a way to go still. And for the last month, I have not been able to exercise due to ailments but will slowly restart again soon. I agree about he makeup...I feel better about myself if I put it on, even if I'm not going anywhere (which is most of the time!). I've got it down to less than 5 minutes to apply!! Leah and all others...hang in there and try not to be hard on yourself, especially when meds or circumstances make it impossible to lose weight, put on makep, etc. "To everything there is a season"...and it is the same dealing with these ailments (I know, had them for 20 years). I know this is easier said than done but true beauty comes from the heart <3 xo Joy

  10. To you Leah and all that have commented - sometimes when I feel bad I always think "someone else is going through something worse". Leah you have written all the things I've been thinking about myself these past 5 years, and sometimes even that thinking doesn't help. I am taking "baby steps" to change how I look on the outside. This didn't happen to me overnight and it's not going to go away overnight. I understand that.

    I'm glad you wrote this Leah and I hope we can encourage each other to take "baby steps".

  11. Hey Leah. I read so much of myself in this post.

    One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was on predisone was 'bananas and popcorn.' I added bacon rice wafers to that list as well.

    Obviously that can't solve all the problems, but it does help with the predinose munchies.

    I hated the effect steriods had on my face though. I didn't have any permanent weight gain, but my face was really swollen. My friend's wedding was during that time, and I hate seeing my bridesmaid's photos - of course, it was a fabulous day and there were at least a few photos where I had less than two chins :-)

    I really enjoy your posts and they've helped me through my worst ever flare, these last few weeks.

    Thanks and luvs to you.

  12. I agree. It may take effort, but looking good on the out side can help one feel good about themselves on the inside.

    My husband will say who are you putting on mascara for and I say for me.

  13. Thank you so much for posting this!! It's great to see everyone's comments and to know Im not alone. I remember what I looked like before I got sick, I had managed to loose a bunch of weight after my son was born and I was feeling so good about myself but now I too have gained all the weight back and then some. It's hard for me to even get into the shower someday's but your right we need to at least try and look good for ourselfs. Fay my husband says the same thing, Why are you putting on makeup!! Like that makes us feel any better. Anyway thanks again and God Bless!!