Loving your body when you feel broken

Loving your body isn’t easy for anyone.  Not with all the messages we are faces with every day that tell us what we need to do to improve our bodies/look better/fit in.  It’s hard for all of us.  But when you inhabit a body that feels ‘abnormal’ at best, and ‘broken’ at worst, it can be extra difficult.

I totally get this, and it’s one of my personal struggles as I am on my journey towards body love.  You see, not only am I fat, and short, I also have ADHD and fibromyalgia.  Some days it is a real struggle to love this body, when it feels like all it does is cause me problems.

I will always be short and fat.  That’s just how I’m made.  I’ve never had a huge problem with the short part (except for clothes shopping!) since even though I look ‘different’ most people think it’s ‘cute’.  The fat thing I struggled with for many years, but I am learning to love every squishy roll, no matter what society’s body police say.  I don’t look to change these things about me; they may be annoying on occasion (again, clothes shopping) but it’s no biggie.  I can give myself a pep talk or check our my fellow fat bloggers if I need a boost.  The fibro and ADHD on the other hand…

The ADHD irritates me for a reason that I need to accept and just move on.  I get annoyed because I struggled all through school, but because I tested well and had been in the gifted program, no one ever thought to see if there was something wrong.  It wasn’t until I was 27 and a friend and I were discussing our school years, that she suggested I might want to look into ADHD.  A few weeks later I left a therapist’s office with an official diagnosis; ADHD-combined type.  Now I take medication that really helps me deal with the symptoms, and my ADHD doesn’t bother me much on a day-to-day basis.  I’m lucky, I had the support of a great therapist and a great primary care doc, and we quickly found a medication that works for me.  But the fat that I went basically 20 years and NO ONE thought to check to see if I had a problem, still ticks me off sometimes.  I know I need to accept what happened, leave the past in the past, and move on…but sometimes I just can’t.  Hey, we’re all works in progress here!

The fibromyalgia…that one is a complicated relationship.  I was diagnosed in my early 20s, which was pretty darn lucky, since my mom dealt with it for 30+ years before finding a doctor that took her seriously enough to look into it.  My symptoms are also controlled reasonably well by medication.  And by reasonably well, I mean that most days I maintain a pain level of about 2-3, with mild to moderate fatigue and brain fog.  That’s most days, which means that there are some days in which my pain rockets up to anywhere from a 6 to an 8 (worse on rare occasions), I am too pooped to poop, and my brain has wandered off without me into another dimension.

Fibro (for me) sucks, because while I do know some things that trigger a pain spike, a lot of times there is no rhyme nor reason to any of it.  Getting good sleep, eating pretty balanced (and regular) meals, staying hydrated, and taking my meds all usually keep me feeling pretty spry.  Then there are those days…those days where no matter what I do, I feel like crap on a cracker.

The crap on a cracker days are the days where it gets really, really hard to love my body.  It can be really hard to love something that causes you so much pain and frustration.  It can be hard to love a body that prevents you from doing what you want, because the only thing you have the energy for is laying in bed with a soft blanket and a stuffed animal and whimpering.  I get frustrated and angry at my body for making me feel weak.  I am usually a pretty strong gal, I like to do things for myself’; feel pride in moving a heavy box or accomplishment at fixing a leaky faucet.  But the crap on a cracker days make me feel weak and helpless, and I don’t like feeling that way.

When I feel awful, and am frustrated at feeling weak or sick, I try to remember the Spoon Theory.  For those of us with chronic illnesses, our energy and ability to do stuff is like a handful of spoons.  You only have so many spoons with which to get through your day.  Once you run out of spoons you are done. Finished. Finito.  I try to remember that our chronic illnesses do not promise that we WILL get a set number of spoons every day.  Sometimes we have plenty, and sometimes we don’t have enough to be able to put on pants.

So, how do I start looking at this from a body love perspective?  I try to reason and bargain with myself…like “Ok, today is a low spoon day, I feel pretty crummy.  This is probably just my body telling me I need to take it easy for a bit.”   I tell myself that I need to rest, nourish, and hydrate my body so it can get everything back in line and get going again.  I kind of think of the bad days as ‘paying dues’ to the good days.  Kind of like we have to have crappy, cold winters, so that we can cycle back to beautiful sunny days again.  We have to have rain, so that I can enjoy the delicious veggies from the garden of my dear friend over at Vexations and Veggies!

I try to remember that even though it runs out of spoons some days, most of the time my body does a pretty darn good job of keeping me feeling good despite having a chronic, invisible illness that no one knows much about.  Even though some days hurt like a MOFO, most of the time my nervous system does a pretty good job of compensating for whatever is wrong in my body, and the pain is ignorable background noise.

I think from now on, I am going to try to use those bad days to practice some extra body love.  I will give it the medicines it needs to feel better, allow it to rest, pamper it with a massage or a hot bath.  I will work on changing my mindset from frustration and anger to compassion.

How do you show your body extra love when you’re feeling yucky?  Tell me in the comments.

For more on fibromyalgia, check out this article at MayoClinic.org, as well as the Fibromyalgia Network‘s great trove of information.

For more on ADHD  check out the NIMH page  on the subject, as well as some great info and good fun over at Totally ADD!

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