By Caitlyn Kalustian (via The Mighty).
Today, I got dressed.
Yesterday, I got dressed.
In fact, I’ve gotten dressed every day since February 5.
Why is that important? What does it matter that I got dressed?
It matters because I haven’t been getting dressed for the last two and a half years. For the last two and a half years, I’ve been sitting/lying in bed in the same clothes, never really going out, never really caring what I wore or even changing clothes every day.
Chronic illness took that from me. I didn’t care what I wore, as long as I was comfortable, and I only owned two nightgowns, so you can imagine that.
For most of the chronically ill, taking a shower is like eight spoons. That’s a lot of spoons! And then to get dressed is another four sometimes. I am also someone with chronic gastrointestinal issues, being that I have gastroparesis and a bunch of other GI stuff. So in one day, I can fluctuate between many sizes. I can put on pants that fit in the morning and by the evening they are either falling off or too tight.
I lost my desire to get dressed. I lost my desire to be “cute” in my quest for comfort. Everything was about being comfortable. Let’s face it, most spoonies, if you are like me and seriously chronically ill, often let things like getting dressed and showering fall to the wayside. It’s simply not worth the spoons. And if you aren’t leaving the house every day, what’s the point of getting dressed? But in my experience, it has led to me feeling worse about myself.
And then, on Super Bowl Sunday, I got involved in a pool. Not a betting pool, but a Leggings Pool. Once I got my leggings, I was hooked. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve bought since then (and no, Mom, not on credit cards). The leggings are always super comfortable, and move with me, despite my on and off bloating and distension. It doesn’t matter what my stomach is doing at the time, they still fit. And they don’t leave red marks on my belly, ever! But with these clothes, even though the showers take so many spoons (and I’ll be the first — but not the last — spoonie to say that I don’t shower every day) are like a one-spoon exercise. Pull on some leggings, find a cute top to match, and you are ready for the day! Seriously, it requires minimal spoons.
Today it is raining and cold and miserable outside. And you know what? I still got dressed. Here I sit, in my bed, under my two comforters and a heated blanket, listening to the rain… but I got dressed.
It’s OK to not get dressed. It’s OK to not shower. Trust me, I’ve been there. I was there for over two years. It’s OK to let your body tell you, “Sorry, not today.” When you are just lying around the house, most of the time I would think, “There’s no point in getting dressed. I’m not even going anywhere today.”
The only time I would get “dressed” (and I use the term loosely, because it was always yoga pants and a whatever-top-is-clean kind of thing) is when I would go to the doctor. Otherwise, I don’t really leave the house.
I lived in that mindset for two years. And then I found this clothing company. I feel cute, I feel comfortable and if the occasion arises that I need to pop out of the house for a few minutes (ugh, so many spoons!) I am ready.
I know all too well what being chronically ill takes from us: relationships with friends and family, social gatherings, movies, going out to eat, etc. You never know how you are going to feel day-to-day or even hour-to-hour. And I get that. One hundred percent.
But now I know I can at least be cute while I battle the demons that are chronic and mental illness.
Now I know that this one small thing as led me on a journey, not a very mighty one, it’s a simple thing really — getting dressed. But each day I do it, it’s a victory for me. I still might not shower every day though… those eight spoons kill me.
Each of us counts our victories in different ways, but in the end, most of us struggle with the same things.
So let’s at least be comfortable and cute doing it. I know it has raised my self-esteem and helped me feel better. It might not be the same for you but for me, this simple step, the simple action of getting dressed… It is enough for me right now.
I still don’t do much. I still don’t leave the house a lot. In fact, I had to force myself out of the house to go to the pharmacy today, even though it’s literally half a mile away.
But damn, did I look cute when I went.