It can be really difficult for people with chronic illnesses to be just comfortable with changes in their bodies as a result of illness and/or medications, let alone feel good about themselves.
In this episode we talk about:
Follow me on Instagram @janeversuspain, on Twitter @janevspain, and on FaceBook @janeversuspain.
My TikTok for some therapy techniques is @kelseyleighharris.
Link for my YouTube channel: Kelsey L Harris Meditations
Welcome to the chronically living and how to make the most of it podcast. I'm Kelsey Harris, a chronic pain warrior here to inspire hope and strength to the spoonie community, get ready to lift each other up and find ways to live the best life possible. Hi, everyone, I'm so glad you chose to tune into this podcast this week. I know there are so many podcasts out there. Trust me, I get recommendations from people all the time. And I'm always trying to sort trying some out and trying to, you know, sort out like what I like and picking and choosing between them. Because there's just a gazillion. Um, so I basically I really, what I'm saying is, I really appreciate that you've tuned into this show this week. My goal here is always to bring you some new information or help you feel I also love hearing about people's takeaways from the episodes and sort of my guests when I have them on. So please always feel free to tag me and them on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or kind of whatever social media use. I will admit that I've been feeling really tired this week. And today, especially, I think it's just a combination of like, busy life and days, and probably wear down from COVID and my practicum, which can be emotionally exhausting at times. And then of course, having uctv which was last week's episode. So if you haven't checked it out my guest, Danielle and I shared some of our auto mute war stories. But yeah, I think it's just the combination of everything that's kind of gotten to me. So I am holding myself very kindly. today. We're gonna talk about bit more about holding ourselves kindly later, I think so. Anyway, so let's slick enough about that. Let's get on with the episode and talk about the reason you probably tuned in. Because this episode is titled body positivity for spoonies. Now I realized there is a good chance that I'm going to get in some trouble on social media for using the term body positivity. There seems to be two sides to the argument in using this phrase. And I honestly I'm very open to both sides. And I like I'm totally happy to hear opinions on on whether I should have titled this episode or not. And I will explain why I went with this. So there's this one side that says I shouldn't use the phrase or talk about body positivity because I am a slim white woman. So like the norm quote, unquote, maybe maybe minus the fact that I'm queer and have a chronic health issue. But otherwise, I fall into the, you know, blonde, white woman who's not overweight at all. So yeah, there's that. And I've heard Lizzo, who I love by the way, like her music wicked. And I think that she' just like, really powerful forc out there. So I've heard he take the stance, that bod positivity movement is reall only supposed to be fo overweight, black and brow women. And I do respect tha that is who started thi movement. And I I've listened lot to like, why is importan for them to own it and, and as for the respect for the bodie because they don't get it. And definitely never want to tak away from that. So I just again, like this is why I'm ver open to hearing different point of view on this. I more recentl heard another side. So this wa from Austin Channing brown o Brene Brown's podcast, Unlockin Us. So for those of you wh aren't familiar with Austin, sh is African American and does lot of civil rights type work And she said the body bod positivity should be fo everybody because everyone ha issues with their bodies especially women. So then, fo me, thinking about the spoon community who often endure major body changes as a resul from chronic illnesses an medications. I think that thi topic and calling it by bod positivity does make sense fo this podcast and for thi community. Now I normally lik presenting some research int whatever topic is on my sol episodes. I think it's importan to to come from some kind o evidence base. But to be honest there really isn't much researc on body positivity and chroni illness like there's thi general acknowledgement tha this is an issue, but then n one's really taken a ste further to like, learn mor about it. Yes. So what I decide to do instead of research i just check out some other blog to see what other spoonies hav also been saying about it Now many, many Spoonies I' e talked about how they hate t eir bodies, how they hate how they've changed or how they ook currently. And weight g in, weight loss, hair falling out rashes and redness and so on. There's so many things that hat can happen depending on hat your illnesses so you may ave experienced many of t ese symptoms or totally diffe ent ones. In her post, why ody positivity hasn't addre sed chronic illness, Caroline eilly said in truth, I hated my body, this body that made me think awful sad thoughts, an sort about her experienc with endometriosis. And th n her article for the Huff Post alled I can't stay body positive where my body is in pain. Jolie Doggett quotes Keah Brown, who said, there's a lot of focus on oving how our bodies look a d not enough focus on how our odies feel. So then I was like, Oh, I think there's kind of two sides of the spectrum here. So n the one side, we need to like accept physical changes n our body, and also find w ys to embrace how we look. And t en on this other side, we n ed to accept how our bodie feel inside as well. And that' kind of how I view body posit vity. for chronic illnesses, li e you have to have both sid s. So before we move on, I wil give you some of my bodily c anges since having you CTD. S I've talked about like chroni pain and stuff for myself befor . But there have been some other things. So I've pers nally noticed a lot of skin c anges mainly on my face. But the thing is, they're not lupus l ke so they were immediately dis issed by rheumatologist. But t ey've all happened within the la t two or so years. So definitely since I've had UCTD. And t is actually reminds me why I sho ld try to find the dermatologi t. But I'm living in a really sm ll city at the moment. So it' a little bit easier said t an done. Anyway, so some of he changes I've noticed. So ther 's some bumps on my forehead t at look like when I googled t ey look like millea and yes I google my symptoms. I know, we all shouldn't, we all know we shouldn't, but we all know we do so like everyone else. So whe I read a book millia it sho ld have gone away already. ut they've been there since l st summer. And I've like tried ll like the like, like how they ay to get rid of it or li e, including like dermatol gy blogs, like how to get rid of it. And it's like, it's ot going away. So I don't know, if it's actually that then I hav a slightly like a little ti y, slightly dark spot on my on ne of my cheeks, which obviou ly could be concerning hei ht doesn't really change. And i 's been there for quite a while. So I'm not like freaking out ab ut it. But it's definit ly something that should be loo ed at. And on my other cheek I have what looks like a pim le except it's been there for l ke a really long time. And it doesn't feel like a ball. An I just I don't know what it s. But it's not going away. nd there's a few more but like I think you guys are kind of getting the point, ther 's definitely some stuff going on in that area for me, wh ch definitely contributes to my body positivity and like ho I feel about like, you know, go ng out, like how much makeup d I have to put on, like how much of this can I cover? Which, li e, you know, the thing, but ot necessarily always a gr at thing. I also happen to po nt out that I'm a bit, bit ore sensitive than other pe ple might be. And I say might ery purposely pure because every ody feels differently a out different changes. But I'm a bit sensitive because I grew up ith super bad acne. And I'm not ust talking about like in my te ns, but like I was had acne wh n I was eight years old, all the way through high school. An it really sucked. I was teased and bullied, including my people who said they were my friends At one point, my mom had to go and yell at the leaders of this ike girl group church thing I wa in because they told all the g rls most of whom I went to sc ool with. And I was like, no 1 or 12 at the time that acn is caused by not washing your ace and eating too much chocol te. And those my friends are old wives tales. acne is cause by hormones. So in a sense hat this these past experience hat past experience was good bec use a it I had to find a way t be body positive, which was freaking hard, especially hen you're a teenager. But f r a very long time. Like Okay, l ke, do I feel okay about myself? And you know what, for the ost part, yes, even with acn , I would say I tend towards ore that side but again, not al ays easy. And then be I know hat what I'm experiencing right now with my skin is most li ely caused by an autoim une respo Now that isn't just knowing that doesn't necessarily make me feel better, or more body positive. But I think having an understanding is helpful at some level. Okay, so how can we learn to feel more positive than because that's probably what you're came to the podcast for? Yes, I always Lightly, lightly suggest things. And I say lightly because you can do what you want with those information. But what I'm going to suggest today is that we're striving for both external and internal acceptance. So first, I think we need to develop some psychological flexibility. We all have thoughts about our bodies. And, you know, these thoughts aren't necessarily right or wrong, but what they do is they hook us, and they take over us and really influence our emotions. And what we need to learn to do is defuse them or create some distance from them. Now, there's lots of ways you can do this, I have some options on my tic tock, which I'll link in the show notes this week, I'm not super active on Tick tock, I have a newer account, and I try to post like once a week, but I do have therapy techniques on there. And this is like a, these are techniques, a lot of them for like how to create that distance. Second, I think is really to show some self compassion. So we talked about this on episode 36. And if you haven't listened to that, yet, the now is definitely a good time. Because there's a lot that can come out of self compassion work. Third is to allow your feelings to exist, you know, repressing, distracting and avoiding usually aren't helpful to most people. And actually, in fact, my blog post this week, which comes out on Wednesday is touching on this kind of oppression in regards to chronic illness, so if you're interested in that, you can learn more about that on my blog. So let's be on Wednesday this week. So gene versus pain.com. Basically, you know, what, what this allowing is it saying it's okay to have a bad day, or to feel off or not love your body every moment of every day, the feelings that come with those thoughts are very real. So open up and just try to give them some space to exist. And then next, while you allow the emotions, start to live by your values, to figure out what your values are, how they align with the limits of what you can physically do, because if you have a chronic illness, you may not be able to physically do everything you could before. And then make a plan to keep living to do things that are life enhancing, to do things that make you feel good, including what makes you feel good in your own skin as far as body image goes. And then lastly, want to say you don't have to take advice from anyone. So what I try to do this podcast is rather than give advices to give psycho education. Ultimately, you don't have to do anything with anything mentioned here. But I always try to present evidence based ways to help. And yes, I mentioned that there's not much research has been done on body image and chronic illness. But these ideas that I've just presented have evidence in working with chronic pain, chronic illness, depression, anxiety, anger and even trauma among other mental health issues and physical health issues. So there's evidence in general. Okay, so changes in our bodies can sometimes result in shame. So my quote this week is from Brene Brown. Shame is the warm eeling that washes over us akes us feel small, flawed, and ever good enough. And this is hat our chronic illnesses cause s to sometimes experiences this hame this like, not good nough. And this is why body ositivity is important for eople with chronic illness. efore we wrap up today, I hought we could do a self ompassion exercise called the ind hand. So if you're going to o this with me, then please ind yourself in a comfortable osition that is upright with our feet on the floor. And you an close your eyes or keep them ocused on a point in front of ou. I want you to think about something that you're struggling with right now. And that could be body image or pain or anything else in your life. It could show up as self criticism. Just take the next few moments to reflect on this and how it affects you and impacts your present impossibly your feet. Notice if emotions Arise for you and what they are. Take one of your hands and gently place it on the part of your body that is experiencing the most emotional pain might be your chest or neck or stomach. Or if you feel numb, then just place it wherever the numbness is most present for you. Think of this hand as belonging to someone you know who is kind, caring and loving toward you. Let your hand rest on this part of your body gently. Notice how it feels on that part of you. Feel the warmth coming from your hand onto your body. In your mind, allow your body to soften in this area, making some space for the pain you feel. Hope this part of you gently as if it were crying baby. Send caring and warmth into this part of you. Let the kindness flow from your hand and fingers into your body. Now use both of your hands. Place one on your chest and the other on your stomach. Again, let them rest gently holding yourself kindly. Taken take as long as you need to connect comfort and support yourself. And then whenever you're ready, just open your eyes and take a stretch and come back to the present. If you like these meditations, definitely check out my YouTube channel. I'll link that in the show notes as well. I just post meditations on there. So there's more coming all the time. And thank you everyone for tuning in this week. Please just keep making the most of it. Thank you so much for joining me today on the chronically living podcast. If you love this week's podcast, please subscribe, rate and leave a review. Until next week, stay strong