Are you struggling with lipedema and depression? Are your lipedema legs or lipedema arms hurting your body image and self-confidence? You are not alone! Many women with lipedema and lymphedema struggle with these issues both before and after a diagnosis. After years of wondering “why are my legs so big” and “why can’t I lose weight” we suddenly have a diagnosis, but that validation often comes with the sting of being told there is little you can do. Be strong, Sturdy Woman.
I’ve heard from many women recently, asking for strategies to help overcome the negative thoughts and hopelessness they feel related to lipedema. This week I want to share some of the struggles I faced, both before and after my diagnosis, and describe some of the strategies I used over the past three years to start reshaping my relationship with myself and my body.
Links included below the video.
- Find a Therapist You Trust Really. Do this. I’ve been with mine for more than four years. That’s right, I started working on my body image issues and internalized fat bias an entire year before I learned about lipedema. That was huge in helping me embrace lifestyle changes as medicine rather than punishment. Early in life, I had been the queen of using insults and shame to motivate myself to restrict and over-exercise. Doing some rewiring ahead of my diagnosis set me up to accept that my body is me. She’s a friend who needs love and support, not an enemy to be conquered. The silver lining of COVID is that it is much easier to connect with therapists virtually, so you can more easily squeeze it into a busy schedule and even sit on your own couch!
- Movement For me this is walking, but this could be anything that helps you process stress and literally move it out of your body. Go to the pool, dance, or use your vibration plate. These are my favorite wide shoes for walking. Amazon says I’ve bought them 8 times in the past year and a half!
- Music While you are moving, put on some upbeat music to put some pep in your step. I literally have a Love Your Lipedema Life playlist. After my diagnosis, I started filling it with anything that made me feel good, whether that was body-positive lyrics or just a great beat. I posted a portion of it on the Sturdy Woman YouTube channel if you want to borrow it. I also did a weekly series on my favorite songs a few years back. Whatever gives you good vibes, collect as much as you can and blast it into your ears as much as possible. This will go a long way toward chasing away the negative voices.
- Quotes and Affirmations When collecting happy things, don’t stop with music! Fill your space with positive messages and quotes. Tape them on your wall, your bathroom mirror, or anywhere else you might need a boost. I keep a book of affirmations called You’re Doing A Freaking Great Job on my desk and, yes, I sometimes flip through it during stressful work meetings. Managing a chronic illness can seem like a full-time job but, Sturdy Woman, you are doing a freaking great job! Find a way to remind yourself of that everywhere you look.
- Meditation Yes, I already hear some of you groaning, but I was that person too! I thought I just “wasn’t a meditation person” but my therapist was pretty persistent and I trusted her so I finally gave in. To motivate myself I bought a year-long subscription to an app. There are a lot of good free meditation apps, but I knew spending money would trick me into doing it – I wouldn’t want to have wasted money! So I bought Headspace and started trying to meditate for even five minutes a night while pumping. Wow, it was hard at first! No, really. I’m not being dramatic. I wanted to crawl out of my skin, but after a few weeks, I started to see the benefits. My favorite sessions are in the self-compassion course so check those out if you decide to try it.
That’s my list, but what’s on yours? What mental health challenges have you faced related to your lipedema? What has helped you repair your relationship with your body? I’d love to hear from you below in the comments so we can learn from each other.
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