When I was engaged to my husband, I was in the process of being diagnosed with lupus and fibromyalgia. During what should have been my time of joy, I was ridiculously sick. Therefore my wedding, although I tended to it the best I could, did not have all the typical girl-things most brides obsess about.
To most women, your wedding day is your most beautiful day – and that means your physical self. I had some radical self-acceptance when it came to my appearance. There were just some things I couldn't control, some things I had no energy to control, and some things I knew would pain me to control to the point where the gain wasn't worth the cost.
I wondered if other chronically ill brides had similar experiences…
1. Losing weight
At the time I was a vegan, swimming for 2 hours each day, and doing 45 minutes of yoga. By the time the month of my wedding had rolled around I had astronomically gained weight from pain meds. I was also bed-bound and couldn't walk like I used to. When you've gone from standing unassisted to needing a cane, you're gonna nope out of doing crash dieting, binging, and sacrificing your hate-selfies to the weight loss gods. I bought Walmart spandex to get into my dress and got on with my life.
After the wedding, almost immediately after the honeymoon, I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism after about six months of looking for it. Chuckee darn, y'all, I could've guessed that!
Now Pinterest and any other god-awful website (I'm looking at you, Instagram) show me body-shaming, hateful things that I wish I knew how to tell the website to block — because back when I was thin I didn't have these problems. I wonder if it's looking at me through the camera and going, “Oh, look, a fat girl. We have to make her hate herself so she'll use the site more.”
(Kinda like the time Pinterest kept sending me suicide notes while I was starting therapy. Who writes these algorithms? Yeah, I don't know either. I only use Pinterest to pin Chronic Illness Business stuff.)
In all, I gave up on sweating for the wedding, because I couldn't move. I don't regret it. During the time I still had a gentle yoga workout regimen, but the cards weren't in my hands.
2. Having perfect skin
I was super stressed out and so sick I couldn't communicate to my doctors I didn't deem essential. For my doctors I deemed essential, such as my rheumatologist and neurologist, I would create PowerPoints on my tablet. When it came time to talk, I would pass the tablet over to them. So when it came time to see the derm, I didn't create one. I figured he'd look at my skin and be done with it.
Unfortunately I was expected to talk at the derm, and I was not coherent due to the pain I was in. I remember the smirk on the doctor's face. Not to mention when I was prescribed an acne cream, I couldn't remember to use it due to brain fog and constantly being on the go with doctor's appointments sometimes at 8AM. I lived 45 minutes out from the city.
During this time, I was also watched for developing a lupus rash, which the derm didn't seem to understand, and proceeded to tell me what allergy shots were and how they worked like I was in 5th grade.
Are you a fellow Spoonie bride?
Don't worry. You're still going to be beautiful whether you labored over your appearance for months or years or not. You should be yourself on your wedding day. Whatever form that is, just is. Nobody owes the world a physical beauty that is strictly theirs to keep, not even on their wedding day. Sometimes we are all forced to be who we are. If you fall in that boat, don't worry.