I’m not a massive fan of pale, sickly flesh being paraded across social media. I live in the West of Scotland and see more than enough of that during our 48 hours of Summer to last me a lifetime. I don’t personally see it as a hugely positive awareness tool either. IBD is primarily an ‘invisible’ disease, so I just feel educating ourselves and others on what goes on underneath our skin is more relevant than what our external bodies look like.
The ways in which a chronic
illness can ravage our bodies are tenfold, and can be ultimately embarrassing, and
make patients feel ashamed. We are often left feeling as though we have to hide
ourselves away, so I totally agree that it’s important to de-stigmatize our
illness in any way possible. Just personally baring your bits is not for me. I
generally don’t need to see more scars, wounds, cannula's or all of the
medications you are taking - I HAVE
ENOUGH OF MY OWN TO BE DEALING WITH.
With the greatest of respect, I
don’t want to read about your
stitches and staples; I don't particularly want to see your stomach or your
scar. No, I'm not prudish, and no I certainly don’t believe our diseased bodies
are ANYTHING to be ashamed of, but I don’t necessarily want to parade mine for
all to see either. It’s MINE, and it’s covered in my own history and
experiences. It has that birth mark on it I've had since I was first brought
into the world, and that big scar on it that serves as a reminder of how I was
saved from going out if it. I has that one long toe that I've hated since I
first knew what hate meant and it has that miraculous rack that has gotten me
many a free cocktail. Only a privileged few get to see these bits, including
me, my partner, 2 cats and that man who cleans the gutters when I’m changing
and have forgotten to shut the curtains.
Adapting to my body
post-diagnosis, and subsequently post-surgery, has been a long and bumpy road
and it’s only now I feel a little more confident in baring it in public. But the
relief there is that I don’t actually have
to. It’s private; in the same way it was before I had a scar and before my
stomach would swell to the size of a small house on impact with a potato.
I don’t feel flashing my flesh
will help our cause: I think talking openly and without shame will. I think helping
those who are afraid to open up about their fears will. I think not shying away
from the impact IBD has on our mental health will. I think learning how to
conquer our anxieties will. Learning as much as I can about my disease will. Educating
those ignorant of our condition will. But again, this is my choice and mines alone; if you want to bare your tum or show the
world your bum then the world is your lobster. Just remember to close your
curtains when you’re having your gutters cleaned.