The Crohns Chronicles - Part 1 - Weight Gain
My Reason For Writing
I have suffered from Crohns Disease for around 4 years now. Before I was diagnosed, I knew practically nothing about the disease, other than that a member of my close family suffered from it and had done so for over 20 years.
When you see someone who looks both healthy and of a reasonable weight, it's very difficult to imagine that they are in pain and feel nauseated almost incessantly. Society does tend to assume that, unless you carry a walking stick or are in a wheelchair, that you don't have any disabilities.
4 years ago, I was like this. I would look at these people who claimed to be suffering from illnesses and immediately pass it off as a means for them to either receive pity or benefits. Having an "invisible illness" carries the same form of stigma attached to having a mental illness. There can be no physical signs, and if there are, these symptoms are often very subtle and very easily ignored.
I was a healthy teenager: I had enough energy to keep me going for days, and woke early every morning to style my hair and put my warpaint on. I looked great and felt great.
As I've mentioned in other posts about my illness, Crohns Disease usually results in its sufferer losing vast amounts of weight due to malnutrition. The pain you feel inside your stomach, mainly in your intestines, is often excruciating, and can leave you unable to even leave your bed. The thought of eating increases how nauseated you feel. I have very little appetite throughout the day and often skip meals: sometimes, this is honestly unintentional as I don't feel hungry, therefore forgetting to eat.
While around 80% of people with Crohns Disease lose astonishing amounts of weight, I am a member of the unfortunate 16% who gain vast amounts of weight. Although my weight fluctuates, in total, I have put on around 4-5 stone since being diagnosed.
Many people say that I look fine, and not to worry what anyone thinks of my size. They try to be encouraging, but honestly, this makes me feel even worse.
I cannot help the weight I am. Ever since taking steroids 4 years ago to treat my inflammation I have put a massive amount of weight on and am unable to remedy this. I've tried exercising, but my fatigue makes this almost impossible. One hour of using the rowing machine can make me practically unable to move for about two to three days. There is no point in dieting as I already eat very little. I know this doesn't help, as my body will put itself into starvation mode, but I don't want to worsen my nausea.
I have been asked by several people in the past when my baby is due. I have had people snigger at me in the streets, and I know they're making jokes about me. I've had to donate almost every piece of clothing that I own, aside from two pairs of jeans and a mountain of hoodies.
I have seen women who have been pregnant with lesser stretch marks than mine. They genuinely do hurt, and those stretch marks that I do have have split before due to my skin being dry, causing them to bleed and weep.
Being judged because of your weight is absolutely mortifying. Any self-confidence I had before gaining weight is now almost entirely gone. I can never describe how much people's words can hurt someone going through this.
Truthfully, I would not have minded if I had lost weight. When I see someone complain because they think they're too thin it's all I can do to keep my composure and not yell at them.
Being overweight is difficult. I often find myself out of breath, unable to keep up with people and having to rest more often than is necessary. I feel depressed when I go clothes shopping: nothing can explain the gut-wrenching moment when you go into a clothes store only to find their sizes only go up to 14. Your shoulders droop and you feel ashamed of yourself.
Often, I find it difficult to understand why my partner is in any way attracted to me. I hurt inside when I look at my reflection. I see nothing attractive about me, other than my eyes, which are usually sore now due to being fatigued constantly. I cannot understand why he would wish to be with me when I resemble something that has crawled out of a horror movie.
Perhaps someday I will be able to lose weight. Maybe scientists will find the true cause of Crohns, finding a cure and rendering me able to actually exercise without feeling like a limp piece of cabbage for days afterwards.
Maybe my Crohns Disease will finally let up, and I'll be able to eat proper meals throughout the day. I could maybe actually digest foods that aid in weight loss somewhere down the line.
Until then, I will try to teach others not to judge someone because of their weight. Until being diagnosed, I never thought of the possibility that obese people I saw perhaps couldn't change their size. Maybe they suffer as I do, and the added shame of being overweight makes them feel worse. Just as I do.