When my treatment for lupus began, I was prescribed about 10 types of medications. Of those 10, only one made its presence known within the first month. But the thing was, it didn’t just announce itself; it screamed “PREDNISOLONE!”, so that I had no choice but to acknowledge it in my life. And the most noticeable way it made itself known? Moon face.
Though it crept up on me slowly, there was so much chaos in my life at the time that I didn’t properly notice my moon face until it was staring me dead in the face. I remember looking in the mirror, confused and distraught that my face was noticeably different for no known reason.
Questions flew through my head. Had I eaten too much sodium? Could that lead to an unusually puffy face? What was happening? Was it reversible? Was this going to be my face forever?
Talking with my doctor on the phone, he explained that what I described was called moon face. There was definitely some peace of mind in knowing it was merely a common side effect, but there was no way of cushioning the blow that the change in facial shape had on my self-esteem.
I can easily give a rough estimate of how long I had moon face; all I need do is look through the photo file on my iPhone for last year. When I scroll through the photos from 2016, something is blatantly obvious: From July until mid-November there are almost no pictures of me. And that was by no means an accident. They were the months when moon face plagued me the most. With dismay, I can honestly say that for almost that whole period of time I hated my appearance.
I couldn’t stand how my face had become so round, so unlike the oval I had seen reflected in the mirror my whole life. In my eyes, it completely altered my face and it made me more ugly than I ever thought I could be.
There were so many mornings I spent trying to dodge mirrors or anything with a remotely reflective surface, trying not to see that hideous thing I couldn’t identify with. There were so many nights I cried on my mum’s shoulder, unable to reconcile mixed feelings over the unavoidable side effects of a medication that was somehow both saving me and devastating me at the same time.
Tonight, as I looked through my photo file, I came across the few photos I do have of myself from that time. And all I can think is just how exaggerated my whole experience with moon face was, my face is round but not nearly to the extent I believed at the time.
Seeing those photos, my heart falls. I’m hurt by how distorted my self-image became as I remember how I mentally beat myself for months on end over something that, in hindsight, is insignificant at best.
I’m not saying that I wasn’t justified in my emotions and feelings at the time. But as I compare photos of then and now, I see exactly what everyone around me did. I see exactly half of both of my parents in my features and a smiling face that is undoubtedly mine.
Moon face is not an easy battle; I, of all people know that. But I would like to say this: If you’re struggling with moon face right now, please believe everyone around you when we tell you just how beautiful you are. I understand you might not be able, just as I couldn’t at the time, but try to be kind to yourself.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you, my dear, have more beauty than you’ll ever know.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.