Learning to love yourself
Learning to love yourself can be a long winding road of ups and downs. I think body confidence, self-love, mental health and body image are all interlinked. If I think back to one’s 18-year-old self, I believe I would have told her to flaunt what you got, if I had known then what my future self now knows 15 years later.
I was rather geeky, quite shy and just a mass of limbs throughout my teenage years. Coming from a family who are pretty conservative in their ways, I was taught that being conservative dress-wise and keeping covered up was the way of life. Wanting to have the newest mini dress or latest top, that was only held together with laces at the back, was an absolute no-chance and I used to live in skater jeans and t-shirts.
Journey of self-love
My journey with self-love has been a rather turbulent one. My body size goes from one extreme to the next. I can be a size 10 for months on end, then medications start, and I can go up to a size 16 in the matter of weeks, thanks to Satan’s steroid pills.
It has only been the last year with healthy eating, another surgery, getting back into the gym and exercising, that I have finally learnt to accept and love my body the way it is.
I spent the latter part of my teenage years through to my 30’s, with open wounds, fistulas, stoma surgery and a rather persistent case of perianal crohns disease that required yet more surgery to finally settle down, before I took notice of my body shape and garnering confidence that was real and not the fake ‘hold your head up high and cry when you get home later.’
My body was great with clothes on as no one could see what was underneath, but taking them off and seeing what was there in the harsh light of day or looking at myself in changing room mirrors would fill me with dread. It has only been the last 2 years that I have had a full-length mirror in my bedroom.
I have never been one for self-affirmations, as it’s not something I believe in. However, this works for others so who am I judge?
My main motto in life is to suck it up buttercup and get over it. Everyone tells me I am such a confident person, but I am just very good at plastering on a smile. In reality, I still have a neurosis but thanks to a firm network of family and friends who support me, the neurosis tends to take a back seat these days.
For me, acceptance and self-love has happened over time. The more I live life, the more I embrace my stoma.
Fellow ostomate quotes on their self-love journey
- Ostomummy – I embraced my stoma because without it, I wouldn’t be here. I was proud that it saved my life. Confidence is built with communication and acceptance. The more I talked about it, the more I liked and accepted it. Also, other people’s acceptance of it. My partner loves me regardless of my stoma. My children love seeing my stoma. My friends and family are still around me and give me the support regardless of my stoma. When I first got my stoma, I didn’t think that this was possible. I already had a doubt in my head about how I would look and how people would think it’s weird and luckily, I have had nothing but nice things said. I am still here and at the end of the day, that’s because of my stoma.
- Goalieostomate – I guess there is a drive to prove myself against all the doubters that self-love was not in doubt. My renegade stoma did give me a few moments, however.
- Dannycally82 – Takes time, it takes all sorts. To me, it was a kick to the stoma during training. This lead to a discussion about it with the guys I trained with, this lead to me training topless, which lead me to some good strong people who showed me that life was better with my stoma. To some people it comes naturally and to others it takes time to build that confidence and learn to accept that setbacks happen.
- Slimmingworld_with_a_stoma – Nearly five months post op, I am still struggling to be honest. I have good and bad days. More bad ones. I feel so run down and no energy. I have lost my confidence and my friends. I want my old life back but know that’s not possible. Tigger the stoma is here for life.
- Julia – First I was very afraid, but it has been a blessing for me. In our German groups we say: rather a bag on your belly than a tag on your toe.
- Zac – I feel more confident after the surgery. It gave me my life back and I had great support from family, friends and work. Took a while to come to terms with the stoma after the operation, but now I embrace it and will talk about it if anyone asks questions. I’ve never had any negative comments.
- Glen – My stoma saved my life and I am loving life with my ileostomy. I’ve even now got friends outside of my work environment.
I would like to say thank you to everyone that responded with their quotes.
Many thanks for reading,
This blog post is intended to give advice to ostomates. The information given is based on Louise’s personal experience and should not be taken as clinical advice. Each ostomates needs are unique to them and their stoma care routine. Please consult with your Stoma Care Nurse before undertaking any changes to your stoma care routine.