3 Years, 3 Faces

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Okay so in the last photo I had been drinking so it’s not the most flattering…

But this is a comparison of my face from 2015, 2016, and 2017, all from around the same time of the year.

In other words, pre-diagnosis of lupus, when I was on about 40mg of steroids, and nowadays when I’m on 10mg.

I like looking at the contrast between non moon face, utter moon face, and nearly gone moon face. It is partly just to freak me out about how big my face got, but also to remind myself that it isn’t, or hasn’t been, permanent.

I used to think I wasn’t very vain, or fixated with my physical appearance. Then I realised it was because I’ve always been more or less comfortable with the way I looked, and when that was taken away from me by prednisolone my self esteem just crashed. It’s silly to be so preoccupied with how my face looked different – but being unable to recognise myself in photos was a shock, and when you’re only 22 and you felt like you had already lived your best looking days, it can feel like a huge loss.

Chronic illness takes away a lot of things – self esteem, carefree days, quality of life, as well as your health. It can also change things such as your physical appearance, way of life and even goals and ambitions. The impact isn’t just on your body in terms of organs or symptoms, but it impacts you in that you see life and yourself through a different lens. Even when you appear normal to others. And not being able to recognise your own face, or feeling like it’s a face that isn’t yours, adds to this. Your sense of personal identity changes.

So I increased my use of make up, got extra layers in my hair, avoided contact lenses so my glasses could frame my face, felt silly getting dressed up feeling like I shouldn’t have bothered, avoided guys so I didn’t fall into the fuckboy trap when I was feeling low, admired how my more confident friends could just expect guys to like them, and only took selfies with filters. When one random classmate once told me how beautiful he thought I was I nearly cried (we were both also drunk). Then I got pissed off with myself how grateful I was to hear that from a random classmate, when it should be me telling myself that. I also had to deal with being unable to fit into some clothes, and losing what little muscle mass I had.

Anyone on it can tell you – prednisolone is a bitch.

I didn’t have any sudden revelation or overwhelming acceptance of who I am, sad to say. I got through it knowing it wasn’t a permanent fixture, and now my face is nearly back to normal, so I’m experimenting with contacts again, wearing less make up, and I can squeeze into my tight shorts and trousers again. Actually I’ve lost too much weight so now I’m having the opposite problems in life… I’m never happy…

This isn’t a post to give enlightened words of advice. It’s mainly just me saying “look how big my face got! And look how it’s pretty much back to normal!” But hey, maybe it can just be a friendly reminder to myself and anyone else struggling with prednisolone. It’s not permanent. And all those frustrating feelings you have, the times you want to cry, or have, we’ve all been there. There is a huge community of people who understand completely.

It’s hard for anyone when we live in a world that is image obsessed. But it helps remembering that your personality will always be awesome because you’re a fighter, a listener, and a sympathiser.

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