Body Image: My Story – The Good, the Bad, and, of course, the Ugly (pt. 2)

Part of me didn’t want to write part 2 of this series. There are a lot of feelings wrapped up in writing it. Part of me didn’t want to revisit those feelings. Part of me is worried about being judged or made fun of. Maybe you’ll find me extremely shallow and superficial, or perhaps you’ll notice all those flaws that just you didn’t see before.

I know some of these fears are irrational – but despite that, I am still anxious about posting this. I think there is value to doing it – for me as well as for others. In the past, it has been healing for me to write about hard issues, and it has also been healing to share them publicly as well. So, here we go…

This post is dedicated to my struggle with acne – and the scars, both physical and emotional, that it has left me with. 

It all started around junior high – such glorious times, eh? I remember being somewhere around 5th grade when I got my first pimple. It wasn’t a huge deal. It felt more like a right-of-passage to becoming a woman. A few years of some spots here and there, no big deal. 

Unfortunately, it became a much bigger deal. As the years went on, it just got worse and worse. In high school my face was completely covered with acne, hardly a clear inch of skin to be seen. Perhaps it was not really that bad, but in my memories it is. I don’t have many pictures to confirm or deny this either – during those years I avoided pictures like the plague. Thank goodness selfies didn’t exist back then!

To my dismay, almost everything I tried made no difference to my skin. You name it I probably tried it. 

Proactive? Yes – and it burned so bad that I had to stop using it!

Over the counter medicines? – Salicylic acid (check!), benzoyl peroxide (check!)… made no difference. 

Prescribed antibiotics? – those tetracyclines did nothing for my skin.

Birth control (the pill)? – yep, started on it during high school and it also made no difference. 

The waiting was always the hardest. You’d go to the dermatologist and they’d be like, “well, let’s try this (insert whatever new medicine you like) now. Come back and see me in 2 weeks.” So then you’d wait the 2 weeks, hoping and praying that this would FINALLY be the miracle-working medicine you’d been hoping for… and 2 weeks later the doctor would be wracking her brain again to think of what else to try. 

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“New Patient” Forms

Today was the first gynecology appointment I have had since I had my 6 week postpartum check-up after Calvin was born – so it’s been about a year and a half since I’ve been for one of these kinds of check-ups.

I have a new doctor – my old OB-GYN moved her practice out of Abilene, so I got to fill out all the “new patient” forms today. As I was filling out the forms, I had to answer questions about any past pregnancies, medical conditions, etc., as is typical on these types of forms. I kept waiting for the place where I would have to check that I had experienced postpartum depression. It ended up not being in the context of “postpartum depression,” but there was a spot to check for “anxiety” and “depression,” which I checked because of some obvious history there.

After getting in the exam room, the nurse came in to ask me the typical questions they ask you, even though you just filled out 10 pages of forms in the waiting room.

Nurse – “Did you have any complications during labor?”

Me – “No, labor went great.”(Here it comes, I was thinking – she’s going to ask me if I had any postpartum depression…)

Nurse – “Did you breastfeed your baby?”

Me – “Only for three weeks, and then we started bottle feeding.” (Because I went to the hospital for postpartum depression…)

The question actually never came up, which I was grateful for. I didn’t expect to be triggered as much as I was by a normal gynecology appointment, but I certainly was today. I felt on edge the whole time – and the feelings of guilt and shame have surfaced more today than they have in a while.

It’s weird how suddenly old feelings can come right back with no warning – if you’ve had any sort of traumatic experiences I’m sure you understand the feeling. I know I’m still in a healing process, mentally and emotionally. Please say a quick prayer for me if you get an extra minute today.

All that being said, my new doctor is great – and his RN is a wonderful woman who I got to have a great talk with about wanting a natural pregnancy and labor for any future children I might have someday. I feel confident that I’m with the right doctors to have a safe and pleasant experience if childbirth is in my future again. I’m thankful to God to feel this way – thankful to him for leading me to the right place and people.

And I’m so thankful for my son, Calvin, and my wonderful and supportive husband, Dean. I’ve said it before, but if I could choose to go back and change how my whole pregnancy/birth/postpartum experience went, I wouldn’t. It has taught me a lot, and continues to remind me to have compassion and grace for people. It reminds me that I’m not perfect, and that it’s okay.

Thanks for reading ❤

 

Think Happy Thoughts

Image result for peter pan think happy thoughts

 

So, something hit me the other day – and it was one of those instances where after it happened it was like, “why did I not think of this before now?”

It started at lunch the other day – Dean and I were discussing a friend of mine who is pregnant and having some anxiety about her pregnancy and about being a good mother. I don’t think this is highly unusual, but I remembered that during my pregnancy I really did not have that much anxiety, (at least compared to my anxiety after Calvin was born!) I attribute a lot of this to the fact that most everything went “right” during my pregnancy – my checkups were always good and I never had circumstances that really made me worry about my or my baby’s health.   

Dean, however, reminded me that during my pregnancy, I was actively doing my Hypnobabies program daily – part of which entailed listening to a 30 minute MP3 track called “Joyful Affirmations.” So for 5 months before I gave birth, I was constantly listening to phrases like, “pregnancy is natural, normal, healthy and safe” and “my body is giving my baby everything he needs.” I listened to those tracks up to the day Calvin was born … and then I stopped. And those of you who have followed my other blog posts know that four weeks later I was admitted to the hospital for severe postpartum depression.

How powerful are thoughts? My friend, Sarah, and I are reading a book together called, Think Good. It has challenged me to be more observant of what I am thinking about throughout the day, and has reminded me how my thoughts can affect my mood, anxiety levels, and behavior. One activity the book challenged us to do was to keep a thought journal for 24 hours – and while this honestly was impossible due to, well, life, I did attempt it. When I looked back over it, I found many more thoughts of worry, anxiety, and jealousy than I did of contentment, thankfulness, and peace.

How powerful are your thoughts? There are lots of verses in the bible that encourage mediating on good and positive things.

One of my favorites is in Philippians – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Psalm chapter 1 says – But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Growing up I remember warnings about watching bad t.v. shows or listening to bad music because it would “affect me.” I also remember rolling my eyes at that and thinking it didn’t affect me. (Think back to Jennifer Connelly in Labrinth – “You have no power over me!”)

But I think God, being wiser than me, knows that the things I spend my time thinking about and listening to or watching will most certainly affect me – which is why He wants me to think about good and pure and beautiful things.

So… how powerful are your thoughts? It hit me that maybe finding 30 minutes a day to listen to positive affirmations really would make a difference in my life. I stopped listening to my “Joyful Affirmations” because it was only meant for the time while I was pregnant. What I didn’t consider was that there are many more ways to incorporate affirmations into my life no matter what stage of life I am in – and many good reasons to do so!

All that being said, I have downloaded two different meditation and positive affirmation apps, and am planning on taking time to listen to them daily. If I end up liking them I’ll try to write a review on here later!

I will write an update on how it’s going in a few weeks – in the meantime, if any of you have any positive affirmation apps or techniques please share them with me! I’m looking forward to seeing positive change in my thoughts and in my life!