Saturday, 1 March 2014

My Flare Lady

I feel one of the main reasons Crohn's Disease has gone unspoken for such a long time, is because it's not an 'attractive' disease. Let's face facts, no one particularly wants to talk about bowels and bums, and what comes out of them. It's not sexy and it's certainly not alluring. 
It's also a vicious circle when you begin to conceal your condition from the rest of the world, and allow yourself to feel nothing but shame and embarrassment. 
Don't get me wrong, when I first found out I had the disease I was mildly mortified. My family is not one for openly discussing the ins and outs of the human body in great detail so I found it incredibly hard not turning 50 shades of red in the doctors surgery. I suddenly found myself having to discuss my stool, my anus, my diet and perhaps worst of all (depending on your opinion) - have random men stick their fingers in my orifices without buying me a drink first.

As a woman with all the womanly bits and bobs, it's important to feel attractive. Not in a vain 'look at me' way; but for myself. As a young woman I was a very late-developer and was mildly obsessed with growing up: when I get boobs everything will be fine. Boys will like me and the 'cool' girls will respect me. 
Depressingly, both of those wishes came true. When I realised I was suddenly appealing simply because two pieces of flesh had formed on my chest it was a jolt from the blue - why was I interested in impressing people who up to now hadn't given me a second glance? Pathetic really, and stood me in good stead for the rest of my life. 
Now I was suddenly a fully fledged woman with the baby-feeding badges to prove it l, I was determined to be more than just the wrapping. I stuck in at school and college and worked 3 jobs to get me through. I shunned men who were only after 'one thing' and I pummelled sexism into significance in the kitchens and bars I worked in to earn my keep. 

When I consider what it means to be a woman I see strength, independence and beauty. You don't have to look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards to consider yourself a feminist. Where in the rule book does it tell you you are somehow less of a woman if you like wearing make up and grooming your lady-bits? 
I love women. Especially the women I am so blessed to have around me. My Mother and my Grandmother are two of my all time favourite women - inspiring and independent - my Gran lived a long and happy life after her husband passed and always looked immaculate. She was hilarious and compassionate and passed all of that and more onto my Mum. 
My friends are a beautiful pick and mix of all my favourite qualities in humans - women who make me incredibly happy everyday, and very proud to have a vagina. 

But what does it mean to be a woman living with a chronic illness?
Well it means you may have to work that little bit harder to look at your best; mainly because the last thing you often feel like doing is painting your face when you feel like death is tapping his scythe at your door.
It means you have to embrace your illness, not hide away. Learn everything you can about your condition and hone your knowledge to become as healthy as possible. 
It means you have to be open, and honest, and never, ever, ashamed of your own body. 
Really that goes for men as well as women. Because after all, we may have different baby-making and sexy-bits, but we all do a number 2 in the same way. Just some of us perhaps more than others.

1 comment:

  1. There are some incredibly strong and inspiring women, who mostly advocate for IBD! I think it is important all women feel empowered and not feel dependant on a man. Feeling comfortable within your own skin is tricky and something you have to work hard at, but with all these amazing women championing for change with regards to IBD we have the perfect role models x