Both Visible and Invisible Scars Come With Cushing’s Disease

Brandy Moody avatar

by Brandy Moody |

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Our bodies hold memories — memories that are sometimes represented by visible scars. These memories can also be invisible, but they leave an everlasting imprint, too, through heavy emotions. Our bodies are keepsakes of the things we’ve experienced, and sometimes it’s hard for us to feel proud of these treasures.

When I look at my body now, I see traces of Cushing’s disease. I have long, indented scars that outline the shape of an empty river; to be less poetic, I have purple striae. These are stretch marks that look like long, cratered paths. They’re the one visible memory I have that reminds me of what I’ve overcome.

I talk about these war scars because they’re a reminder of strength, but there are moments of weakness within even the strongest of warriors. Every time I look in the mirror, I feel a slight sense of panic. On most days, I fear that my pituitary tumor is back and that I’ll need to undergo another surgery, but I try to remember that I did it once, so I can do it again.

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Not all scars can be seen, however. Most of my scars reside inside the walls of my mind. These walls feel like a prison. Sometimes I can’t escape my anxious thought patterns, and I feel like a prisoner in my own consciousness. “It’s coming back!” “I’m gaining weight!” “I need to eat less and work out more just in case!”

Bad habits of my past that I know won’t help Cushing’s become daily habits because of worry. It doesn’t matter how little Cushing’s patients eat or how often we work out. Nothing will stop the wrath of cortisol.

Cushing’s can turn your mind into your worst enemy if you’re not paying close attention to your thoughts and patterns of thinking. It’s easy to get stuck in a loop of anxiety-driven scenarios, but there are coping mechanisms for this.

A treatment that should be implemented for Cushing’s patients is therapy. Mental health is something that deserves more attention than it gets when it comes to our symptoms; it is also, in my opinion, the hardest thing to improve. Your weight will fall off, your sleeping schedule will go back to normal, your cortisol with regulate, but your mind is an area that will retain those invisible scars.

I try to settle my anxiety by internally reciting a favorite mantra. I breathe, exhale. This too shall pass. I remember to speak to myself kindly and to go easy on myself. I find anything that brings me comfort, and I submerse myself in that moment. I like to light a candle and listen to music, or I’ll inhale some lavender and sip some tea.

Our bodies do hold memories. They hold scars, stories, trials, and tribulations. Although I’ve shamed my body for what I felt was a betrayal, I’ve also loved my body because it was with me through it all. One of the biggest challenges for me is not to give in to self-shaming. If a cruel thought has the audacity to challenge me, I redirect my energy into something more powerful: gratitude.

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.


Zoann Murphy avatar

Zoann Murphy

Thank you for these reminders! I'm trying to get out of an "eat everything, stop eating completely" cycle right now and it is tough. I agree that mental health care should be part of our treatment plan. If only insurance would cover those visits instead of another round of useless dietician/nutritionist ones.

Jessica C. avatar

Jessica C.

Beautifully written.


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