In my past life, I might have been a little vain. Never in an obnoxious way, but I was very secure in my looks and abilities. I have been told all my life that I am pretty, but I always say thank you, and I am gracious, as if it is my first time hearing it. I have lived my life unapologetically for so long that my confidence has grown over the years.
I would tease and tell people that my confidence level was just bordering on arrogance. I’ve never been a jack***, but if I was sure about my looks or my abilities, no one could change my mind.
I’m the tall, thin one in a family of short, voluptuous women. But even as I gained weight, I never felt fat or in a hurry to be a vision of my former, thinner self. I never owned a scale because I didn’t care about the numbers — only how my clothes fit me.
Then, lupus came.
Ironically, lupus did for me what many women wish they could accomplish. I lost roughly 60 pounds within three months. I didn’t even notice the weight loss until people started asking what I was doing. At my lowest, my nearly 5-foot, 8-inch frame was 98 pounds. I now weigh 100 pounds, and I am grateful for those extra 2 pounds.
Many people want to be slim. For me, slim is fine, but bone-thin is not. While many of those around me say I look great, I feel as though I just look sickly. In addition to my baldness, I worry people see me and think I have cancer. (Some have asked.) I am often told that I don’t look 51, but I feel like I look 90.
Many people used to describe me as vivacious, but now they probably consider me a chatty, lonely, old lady. At the beginning of the year, I was issued a mobility device. When the fella brought it into my hospital room, I told him, “I just went from 50 to 90 in the swing of a door.”
Since then, I feel I can no longer be seen as sexy, vivacious, or young. I often think people only spend time with me to be nice. The only thing I ever seem to talk about is being ill, and I have become really withdrawn.
The sad thing is that I met my friends after I got lupus and moved abroad. They have never made me feel like they include me out of pity. These are my own insecurities. When a man flirts with me, I sincerely wonder why he is doing it. I also feel as if I carry myself like an old woman now, especially when I have the walker or require the electric cart in stores.
I hate feeling older than my actual age. I am trying to embrace the fact that I can still be the young, vivacious person I’ve always been. I just have new accessories.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.
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