For most of my life I have taken pride in the fact that I had no issues with my body. Growing up, I wasn’t the skinniest or fattest (though I was the shortest), but I was happy with who I was and how I looked – I honestly didn’t care what other people thought. And for that reason I haven’t written much about how weight-gain due to M.E. has affected me emotionally. I have been ashamed of my feelings, because I haven't been happy with my appearance. However, after reading this post by Katie Brook, I knew I had to also share my story, to enable others in this position to know they are not alone, so here it is.
Four years ago I started to seriously struggle more with my health, and consequently started doing less. I stopped dancing and I only went out to go to classes at University. The next year (just after I finished University) I became ill and since then have been severely affected by my M.E. I stopped going out unless it was in a wheelchair. I didn’t even cook most evenings anymore, or stand up in the shower. But my diet didn’t change, and so I started putting on weight.
I didn’t even notice at first, as despite everything I was still able to focus on the positives, and I kept the belief that this was just a temporary blip. But a year went by and nothing got better. My boyfriend and I broke up, and I became more depressed. This was when I first started not liking my body anymore; and the worst part was that I felt guilty for caring about something so shallow.
I continued putting on weight and became even unhappier with my appearance. To be honest, it isn’t the weight that bothers me, so much as struggling to find clothes that fit (being short and round is not helpful for this), let alone anything that looks flattering. And I constantly struggle with the guilt. I have guilt that how I look bothers me, as I know it shouldn’t. I have guilt because I know I am lucky to be able to eat whatever I want, when many with similar health issues have to use their little energy on eating the right foods for their body. I have guilt as I know I should and could eat healthier, but I can’t find the motivation to bother sometimes (though my diet has greatly improved over the past year, I still have a long way to go till I’m happy with it). And the guilt feeds the depression, which makes me crave unhealthy foods, and so leads to a downward spiral I am constantly trying to pull myself out of.
I know I’ll probably continue struggling with my physical appearance for a long while, but once I started to accept that my feelings were okay, it suddenly became a lot easier to focus on improving my health, rather than my weight. I now accept that I''m doing the best I can and I am happier than I have been in a long while.