Cushing’s Disease Taught Me Lessons I Didn’t Know I Needed to Learn

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by Ellijahna Victoria |

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I used to think happiness was being skinny, in both sickness and in health. Beauty meant pain, and I was willing to suffer for it.

Perhaps this superficial outlook on life was caused by my childhood experience of growing up as an ethnic minority and not having anyone that looked like me around to look up to. It might have been because a person’s weight was a big deal in high school, a mentality that lingered throughout my adolescence. It could have come from working in an industry where looks were just as important as talent. Or maybe it was a combination of all three of these.

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While at the time I had no idea what my insides were going through, putting on weight was the first, and most shocking, symptom of Cushing’s disease for me. I noted these gradual changes as my body morphed from beautiful and vibrant to morbidly obese. I watched my face change, my hips and ribs disappear, and my complexion turn constantly red. My entire body seemed so foreign from the one I grew up with. I’m sure many other “Cushies” can relate to this.

Next, I witnessed firsthand how differently people are treated when they’re “bigger.” Do you know what it’s like to be laughed at due to your weight? Do you know how much it hurts? I wish I could say that back then, I had developed a thick enough skin to brush off those comments, but I hadn’t.

For a long time, I was consumed by grief, anger, and hopelessness. I grieved that I no longer had the body I used to have. I was angry at myself for wallowing in self-pity. And I was overwhelmed by the hopelessness I felt at times.

I also experienced a prolonged period of denial. For many years, I bought clothes that were too small for me and set unrealistic goals to try to fit into them in a matter of weeks. Then, I blamed myself for being unable to achieve those ludicrous weight-loss goals. It was a vicious cycle.

However, I now view Cushing’s disease a gift. It was the teacher I didn’t know I needed. With my physical identity stripped away, I was forced to focus on who I was on the inside. Call it character-building, if you like. It made me realize just how lucky I am to still be living and breathing, to have access to the best medical care in the country, and to be surrounded with an army of prayer warriors who continue to provide amazing support.

The most important epiphany I had seems so obvious now, but at the time, I couldn’t see it: Your weight does not define you, and your symptoms do not define you.

Sometimes, we have to take a moment to stand back, count our blessings, and see how far we’ve come. Once upon a time, not long ago, I was utterly consumed by grief. Now, I have the strength and resilience to know that I can overcome whatever is thrown at me. And you do, too.

Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.


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