Saturday, 27 February 2021

You say 'from Duff to Buff', we say sometimes losing 8 stone is not what it seems: Chronic Illness Awareness

If you told me a year ago I would be where I am today - eight stone lighter - I would have probably picked up a bag of crisps and laughed in your face!

This was me...

Nearing on 23 stone at 23 years of age, after years of struggling with my weight, food was my thing. 

Cooking, baking and munching... Emotionally eating at the good times and secret eating at the bad times, but I thought I was content with being the DUFF (designated ugly fat friend). 

I claimed to never care what people thought of me and that I was confident in my own skin - from the outside, I was this fun-loving girl who could laugh at herself but inside I was deeply sad that I didn’t look like everyone else. 

Going on nights out with my friends I knew I was the one that would get ignored by lads trying it on for a quick shag and that suited me perfectly fine. 

I didn’t like attention from people and being fat was a safety net/security to me, but I would wear bright outfits to disguise my insecurities not realising the clothes I was wearing were drawing attention to me rather than deflecting it.

So, the resolution for 2020 was to lose weight! 

Let me tell you, I was determined to hit the gym hard and work on my fitness. I would log my calories to ensure I was in a calorie deficit and told myself that I would enjoy the process of losing weight, change my mindset and realised for the first time that this is something I needed to change for me - nobody else.

After a month of healthy eating, a breakup and frequent gym trips by Feb 2020 I had lost 2 stone taking me down to 21 stone.

Then came Valentine’s Day 2020, the day everything changed. I always had problems with my stomach, I had visited the doctors who put it down to "overeating rich foods at Christmas", "being overweight" or "food poisoning" leaving me disheartened. 

You see, I had been working so hard at healthy eating and they said they couldn’t help, only offering a free eight weeks at Weight Watchers and to come back when I had lost some more weight. 

However, my stomach problems were not normal and got worse. I had been feeling extremely poorly with abdominal pains and frequent trips to the toilet and more scarily now I was losing blood. 

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After many tests and a hospital admission I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and I felt like my world crumbled, I was relieved to have answers to what was going on but I knew that it was an illness that was never going to go away no matter what I did! 

According to the NHS website, Ulcerative Colitis is a long-term condition where the colon and rectum become inflamed. The colon is the large intestine (bowel) and the rectum is the end of the bowel where stools are stored. Small ulcers can develop on the colon's lining and can bleed and produce pus.

Over the next nine months, my illness fully took hold of me and I was spending at least four hours a day in the bathroom.

Matched with various hospital admissions, lack of nutrition, dehydration, repeat infections, extreme fatigue, infusions (to keep me alive), sepsis and a whole heap of medications - my body had given up and was feeling the strain - in the process of this I lost a total of over eight stone.

Thankfully, with the help of infusions on a new medication, my infection markers are slowly starting to lower but I’ve been left literally half the size I used to be without even really trying...

But the issue is this, when you’re a big girl and you lose weight no matter how you do it it seems to be an achievement to the outside world. 

They can see that you look so different and therefore you must be "healthier".

I'll let you into a secret, I don’t feel different when I look in the mirror and still see the 23 stone girl looking back at me.

She looks at me and picks away at things that never used to bother me when I was bigger but we see this behaviour and we know what we got to do: I'm finally jumping on board the old self-love train.

It’s all going to change... learning to love myself and accept the new "buff" me is the challenge for 2021.

And it is a journey we can all go on together! 

So keep reading, and keep updated with my progress as we embark on the journey of feeling "BUFF - Beautifully, Unapologetic and Fucking Fabulous" together no matter what size you are.

Written by VavaViolet's writer, Jessica Murray


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