16 Jul Jessica: Uncovered.
I know it and you know it. Other people – however – don’t.
“Well, you don’t look sick…” the common phrase most of us with Crohn’s/Colitis/IBD/IBS and other invisible disease sufferers hear constantly.
I know I don’t look sick.
I try very, very hard to make sure of that.
Many of us, no matter what the issue, have mastered the art of the fake smile to pretend everything’s alright, the gritting of our teeth to hide the pain, and for some of us, like myself, the magic of makeup that can hide physical evidence of a problem. It’s done to hide painful emotions, self-confidence issues, and imperfections. We all do it – it’s just a matter of why.
In my case, my fake smiles and teeth gritting have, thankfully, been kept to a minimum. Despite a few bouts of intestinal discomfort (like today, for instance), over the past little while I have actually felt alright. Though I have been taken off Remicade (the $8k a dose drug) due to the horrible reaction I had, I’ve managed to open my diet back up to real food (oh salads, how I’ve missed you!) and the remnants of the tiny, yet powerful, amount of steroids I am no longer on have disappeared (goodbye, puffy face!)
Unfortunately, while my intestinal symptoms seem to have dissipated, other unsightly Crohn’s symptoms have appeared. Over the past few weeks, my legs, chest, and face have become home to large, painful, and itchy gaping wounds. While I can deal with the pain and the itch (well, sort of.. thanks to my boyfriend who smacks my hand away every time I scratch), I am having a difficult time with the change in my appearance that these wounds and their scars are causing.
Well, I’m really just having a hard time with what they’re doing to my face.
I’m a confident girl – you all know that. I mean, hello? I’m practically naked all over the internet. I’m practically naked all over the internet uncovering my ostomy.
Then why is it that I find myself hiding a different part of me? It wasn’t until today, as I stepped out of the shower -fresh faced and covered in marks – that I have been hiding. I’ve been hiding the symptoms of my disease under piles and piles of makeup. I can show the world my ostomy bag, but I can’t show the world my real face?
Those pictures you see me post on my personal Facebook page/Twitter/Instagram? Yeah – I’m covered in makeup. It’s not me. It’s the “you don’t look sick” me. Even the pictures of me showing off my ostomy? Oh yeah, I’m COVERED in makeup. I mean, how can I tout confidence in one’s self and one’s ostomy if I can’t be confident with the symptoms of a disease I’m trying so hard to fight? How can I tell each and every one of you to accept who you are, no matter what, if I can’t even show myself in public without a mask of cosmetics?
The answer is that I can’t.
This is why I’ve decided to show you me. Fresh faced. Makeup free. Wounds, scars, and all.
No makeup. No shame.
Just me. **
WAIT – I’M SORRY I SCARED YOU. COME BACK!
As I sit here, writing this, I can’t help but think about what these wounds and scars have done. Not only have they made a dent in my face, but they have made a dent in my self-confidence. No matter how much makeup I have slathered on, I can’t help but feel that people are staring at me – like they can see through the makeup. It’s really been getting to me.
But now… now that I get ready to post this.. I feel almost as ease.
Writing really is a cathartic process.
And let’s be serious: If I can realize at 13 years old that having an ostomy is no big deal, I can certainly say “f**ck it” to the shit stuff on my face.
These little marks are part of who I am. They are the symptoms of a disease that I have; a disease that has shaped me, just as my ostomy has. And if I can be proud of my ostomy, why can’t I be proud of my symptoms too?
After all, I am sick. And I’m damn proud to be surviving it.
** Compare that with the “you don’t look sick” me (the fake me), it’s almost ridiculous how different I look.