Way back in April I did something really scary.
I went to London with my best friend which I was really anxious about because fatigue is still an issue and I wasn’t sure how much it would affect our day out.
In London, I did a photo shoot which exposed my tummy for all to see; scars, dodge, bag and all. However, Hannah and a couple of other close friends were the only ones I told about this, so according to my parents we were going holiday shopping!
So firstly I’ll tell you a little bit about the campaign. It’s called Behind The Scars (hence the title for this post!) and it’s run by the lovely Sophie Mayanne. It’s all about celebrating scars and what they represent, the stories that they tell and most importantly breaking the stigma behind them. It’s all about body positivity and accepting who you are.
As many of you may know, this is something I am 100% not okay with. I don’t like my body, at all. I’m the biggest, size wise, that I’ve ever been (the delightful dietician the other day told me I’ve put on nearly two stone since she saw me in February – fab!). So not only am I conscious of that, but I’ve also got a lovely bag full of poop attached to me for the foreseeable future, because I’m not willing to risk my fertility / fecundity to get rid of it. I’m in a constant battle mentally between wanting my bag gone ASAP because I can’t see how anyone would ever love me with a bag, but not wanting to get rid of it if it means I may not be able to have children, but then wanting it gone ASAP and I can’t decide which I want more. I’m in turmoil.
So when I saw a friend of mine, who happens to be a fellow health and lifestyle blogger, post the most beautiful images of her baring her eczema of the world to see I did something crazy and messaged Sophie asking if I could get involved.
I was terrified. I may post pictures on my Instagram of me with my bag out, but for some reason I feel like that’s different to actually showing someone my bag in real life. But if it was going to raise some awareness for IBD then I was willing to take the plunge.
I was having a bit of a tough day with my knees anyway, so when I arrived and found that the studio was on the 4th floor a little part of me died inside, but I made it to the top floor, just!
Sitting waiting to be called I was really anxious, but Hannah was with me and she put me at ease.
When I was finally called I was so scared to show my tummy. Yes, I’ve worn a bikini on holiday, but I’ve been around people I knew, but there was just something about baring my body to strangers that petrified me.
Sophie was lovely though. She was talking to me through the whole thing and made me feel so comfortable, I’ve never felt so comfortable in my own skin, even before surgery.
After the shoot, Hannah and I headed back to Westfields to do some shopping like I’d told my parents we were doing. It was a good day overall, I did something I didn’t think I’d be able to do, and we genuinely did get some holiday shopping done!
When I got home, I did actually tell my parents what I intentionally went to London for, and they seemed surprised and wondered why I hadn’t told them. I didn’t tell them because I thought it would be a case of the more people spoke about it to me, the more I’d freak myself and then I’d eventually talk myself out of going, but I knew it was something I had to do.
My scars may not all be visible, you could say I was “luck” that my surgery was laparoscopic. But just because I have 4, tiny, 1cm scars on my abdomen it doesn’t mean that’s all there is.
Internally I have scars (adhesions) along my small bowel which mean eating food is painful at times and restricts my diet massively to white carbs, white meat and dairy. I cannot tolerate caffeine, fruit, veg or salad. I also only allow myself to have brown bread once a week, the same with red meat because the adhesions make it difficult for the food to pass through a certain section of my small bowel and it causes the worst pains.
So they’re the physical scars, but there’s psychological ones too.
I started seeing a clinical psychologist last November. At first I was seeing her every other week, and it was basically an hour every two weeks where I would just cry, constantly. At one point I was crying hysterically every other day at home, I was crying about the same thing over and over again. But since seeing my therapist I’ve found that I can look at things slightly more logically now.
I still cry. I still take medication to mellow out my emotions. I still have therapy. But I feel that talking has helped me start to deal with the psychological scars, but they’re still there.