Chronic Illness and Self Confidence 

Self-confidence is something that I have struggled with all my life, or more accurately, something that has been missing. From when I worked as a model as a money making side hustle back in university… All the way to my chronically ill current self – a scarred and broken 30 years old.

Self-deprecation and negative thoughts about my appearance have always been continuously lurking in the corner. Always ready with the next seed to plant in my head to grow yet another neurosis to march around my brain.

Anytime I see my reflection, no matter how hard I try, having a positive thought first is about a 1% chance. The other 99% is usually negative to borderline nonchalance.

My body isn’t the gym going, healthy, gymnast body I had 10 years ago. Well sculpted, strong, fast. And I looked great in my leotard. This is all retrospective opinion. What I think of my then, now. Through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia.

In the moment, 10 years ago, I was feeling exactly the same as I am now. Self-deprecating, self-doubting and not at all confident in how I looked in my leotard.

Back then, my inner monologue was more along the lines of – “I’m not as thin as other models… gymnasts… people.” While concurrently thinking that I wasn’t nearly as developed or sculpted as other gym goers.” Where is the logic in that train of thought?

Today I stand and look in the mirror and my heart sinks.

A high number of friends having kiddies – I have a round belly thanks to my faulty colon. The bloating. Oh, the bloating.

Scars from surgeries to keep my body going and one piece. And from my collagen not healing wounds as well as they could.

Little slivers of silver because I’m not as trim as I used to be. Exercise in my opinion of what counts as exercise is nothing but a faint memory in the back of my head. I will be back at the gym one day. But, it will be a while yet – hurry up spinal surgery date!

Awareness of the fact that inside I don’t feel as healthy as I used to – pain and discomfort are my constant companions. Waking up and getting going and then working late into the night. Burning the candle at all ends is what I used to be known for.

This rabbit hole has had me for far too long. Feeling like this is not what I want my future to be. The future I want is to finally feel confident when I look in the mirror.

Throughout all this doubt the people nearest and dearest to me have frankly thought I’m insane. They all think I look great. However, no matter how many times or in how many ways they express the fact, I just can’t accept their reassurances. I have no idea why. I just can’t.

Who can change the fact I feel this way? Me! What can I change now about my body? Absolutely nothing! I can’t go to the gym as I can’t pick up my cat’s at the moment without giving my spine 4 weeks notice.

So what can I do?

I’m writing this blog post to boost my confidence by challenging the negative thoughts with positive. Hopefully, I will be able to retain these little snippets of positivity for the next time I look in the mirror (or literally look at this post).

Throughout the day when I find myself thinking negatively I will take note. Then retroactively challenge these thoughts in one big positive swoop.

Hang on?! Have I just lured myself into CBT! 😂 whoops!

Here we go:

“I’m so fat” 

Trigger: Instagram pretty people.

I have the extra fuel to withstand surgery and flare-ups when I have no appetite.

I am not actually fat – I’m smaller than the UK average.

Being “fat” is subjective. My other half finds me attractive and has never said anything to suggest otherwise.

Preventative action: Followed body positive Instagram profiles and unfollowed the ‘fake’ staged people.

“Eurgh scars are horrible and I’m only going to get more”

What preceded the thoughts? Seeing my reflection when treating my wound on my jaw.

They are marks of my strength to endure.

Before those scars, my quality of life was much worse and I was miserable. 

Those two thought challenges were more difficult than I thought they would be but now I have a source of reassurance when those thoughts creep back.

What do you do to boost your confidence? I’d love to hear how you challenge your negative thoughts!

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