Being diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG) is a heavy burden to bear. In the years following my diagnosis, my medication dosages increased and I gained weight. I find it difficult to compare the literal and figurative weight of this disease.
As a woman in her 20s, the weight gain was damaging to my self-esteem and confidence levels. Before MG became a part of my life, I enjoyed plenty of exercise, which helped me to maintain a beautiful figure I was proud of.
I was prescribed prednisone at my first consultation. I remained on the medication for the next five years, which led to several changes to my once shapely figure. I developed a “moon face,” with fluid retention visible in the cheeks, along with skinny legs, a flat bum, and a flabby stomach. Several dark stretch marks accompanied these changes in my body.
When my dose was increased, I gained weight, and when it was lowered, I lost weight. My once slim figure was reduced to what I saw as a fluctuating blob of flab.
Now, I am finally done with prednisone due to some adverse psychiatric side effects, yet I still struggle with the weight I’ve gained. Having a neuromuscular disease like MG makes it difficult to exercise, and low energy levels make it hard to change dietary habits. I have started an exercise routine, and I’m excited to have lost some weight. However, I am still miles from where I once used to be. Prednisone has forever changed my body, and I am still working on accepting that — and I hope that eventually, I will.
I have had feelings of shame and guilt and experienced a significant decrease in my self-confidence, thanks to the weight gain. But those are not the only effects it has had on me.
This experience has shown me that I am more than my physical appearance. My friends and loved ones stay in my life because of who I am not because of how I look. I’ve learned to appreciate the people who support me through the bad physical and mental health days. I realize that my opinions matter and my brain functions well despite my outward appearance. The fragility of aesthetics has emphasized the durability of emotional health. I feel empowered by believing in myself despite what I perceive to be my limitations.
I may be physically heavier, but I am also more abundant in knowledge and have a better understanding of who I am. I know who supports me and who does not. I am full of life and love to share with the world because life is beautiful and I will never stop fighting.
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