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Why I have stopped buying women’s magazines

This year I made a decision to stop buying ‘women’s’ magazines and I feel so much happier for doing it.  Here’s why…

Im not a massive magazine buyer, I don’t buy them regularly but now and then I will pick up a few and every time I did, I ended up either feeling rubbish about myself or pissed off at the world we live in.  When I did buy them I would flick through this dross and seethe at the three little pigs debate on women, this celebrity is too fat, this celebrity is too thin, this celebrity is jusssssssst right.

body image and womens magazines

 

Look at these ‘shocking’ bodies they scream, let’s join together and shame these women, for how dare they go out in public with any sight of wobbly flesh, a rounded stomach or stretch marks.  Lose weight you disgusting creatures.  But hang on, don’t lose too much weight, because look over here at these women, they must be anorexic or on drugs!! Look at the vile bitch whose ribs we can see…

 

Why the fuck was I buying these things?  I honestly can’t answer that, perhaps it was habit or boredom.  I can tell you I just don’t enjoy reading this shit.  I don’t care how big a Kardashian’s arse is, I don’t want to see that Madonna is too thin or Chantelle is too fat.  Seeing these women, big or small just made me feel angry.  It didn’t make me feel good about myself seeing someone bigger than me though it did at times make me feel shit to see a thin celeb being mocked for gaining a few pounds.  When they are publicly mocking a woman for being fat and she weighs 2 stone less than you it does make to question how society sees you.

 

body image and new magazine

 

These magazines are not interesting, they’re not journalism and they aren’t even amusing.  They are shite and ladies, we need to stop buying into this crap.  Since stopping buying any magazine that’s purpose is to shame women I can honestly say I feel miles better and I have more money in my pocket!

When I look at the magazines my husband buys, there are no images of a celebrity male with a step by step crucifixion of their looks, National Geographic doesn’t fat shame scientists or tell us that Obama has lost/gained a stone.  I know there are magazines such as Mens Fitness that feature toned and muscly men but that is more about health and exercise, it isn’t about how big Brad Pitt’s arse is.

So why do women feel the need to buy magazines that demean and shame other women.  I’d like to think that most of us don’t judge our peers by the size of the bodies so why do we enjoy seeing celebrities judged so harshly? Is it car crash media? Or something more?

I can’t answer that question but what I can say is that buying magazines like Now and Heat does NOTHING good for your self esteem, ask yourself, do you really want to be funding the ridiculous judgement of celebrities, do you want to be part of a society that treats people so poorly and pushes an unrealistic and unattainable perfect body image.  Do you want your daughters, nieces and young women to be surrounded by images and harsh words, cementing the idea that if you aren’t perfect, you are fair game to me mocked and bullied?

I dont. And so I took a stand, its only a tiny stand but if we all stopped buying into this crap then perhaps the editors of these magazines will take a look at themselves… Magazines circulation is dropping year on year, the rise of the internet and smart phones mean that most people can get the celeb gossip fixes at the touch of a button.  So think about your hard earned cash next time your hand wanders thoughtlessly over to the shame section in the newsagents.  What could you be reading in that time that would actually teach you something or just make you feel good?

I didn’t want to bring that sort of message into my home where my kids could see it, especially my 11 year old daughter.  Id never tell her that Susie is so fat that she should NEVER wear a bikini, or that Jane is so skinny, she is definitely starving herself and seeing her bony ribs makes me sick.  I wouldn’t allow people around her to negatively affect her self esteem by telling her that unless she weighs the exact right weight, has the perfect sized tits and an arse that can’t be too small or too big that she is not good enough.  So why would I allow these magazines to be around her?

I found a magazine last year called Psychologies, now I have seen this before but due to the title I assumed it was a health mag or maybe a professional magazine, it isn’t! And despite the terrible name it is actually a really good magazine (so much so that I just bought myself a subscription) It has womens lifestyle articles, fashion, home, work, family etc but there is no celeb shaming, no telling you how to lose 300lb in 20 minutes by juicing your own shoes or any such crap.  It has really interesting and fun pieces that make you feel good.  Fancy that!

I get the desire for celeb gossip, I really do.  I don’t know WHY I want to know what Angelina and Brad’s home looks like but now and then I do.  Im not sure why I care if Richard and Judy fell out but occasionally I like that knowledge.  My (VERY) guilty pleasure is the occasional glance down the Daily Mail website seeing who fell out with who and which celeb got drunk at which party.

But seriously put down the crap mag that’s sole purpose is to bully, mock and shame other women.  Make a stand and think about your fellow woman.

I talk about self esteem a lot these days and it is because facing surgery, scars and having to wear an ileostomy bag 24 hours a day makes to reassess how you look at your body.  I could have gone the other way and felt saddened or ashamed of my body, but instead I just gained a massive respect for it.  My body confidence is higher than it has ever been! I am so proud of my strong body, the battering it has taken, my scars are like battle wounds, they are a huge part of me and I love them.  My bag is there, its on show and I could resent it and despise it, but it wouldn’t change the fact that it is there.  So I have learnt to accept it, and I have used it as a tool to teach other women that no matter what we go through, we are strong and we are beautiful.

Beauty comes in so many different packages, my package has extra bits, its a bit crumpled and torn but it is so filled with joy, happiness, fun, kindness and laughter that it is JUST as beautiful as anyone else’s.

The message in these mags is if you aren’t perfect then it is perfectly acceptable to mock you.  This isn’t true, it isn’t how life is and reading that shit made me feel bad.  Reading that shit when I was an impressionable teenager may have had a really terrible affect on me and so I will protect my daughter from it for as long as possible, life isn’t about Mean Girls judging one another, its about love and kindness, fun and laughter, experience and being brave enough to love yourself and pave your own way, being proud of the person you are, not your dress size, and knowing that true beauty is so far away from the measurement of your waist.

And that, dear reader is why I have stopped buying ‘women’s’ magazines.

 

Love Sam x

 

Are you ever embarrassed to talk about your illness?

This is the question my daughter just asked me. My answer was yes. Sometimes.

But I talk about it anyway to stop the embarrassment for other people. The more we talk about ulcerative colitis, crohns, stomas, pouches and just poo in general, the less it will be a taboo or something to be embarrassed about.

People don’t like discussing matters of the arse do they? And this is the reason that people will suffer needlessly in silence when they begin with symptoms of the bum variety.

keep calm and talk shit ulcerative colitis and ibd

I understand those feelings but want to fight against them. Sometimes a mum at the school gate will say she’s read my blog. My mind works furiously thinking about what I’ve written about the past few days! And then I smile and thank them, for every person who reads may just have learnt something. Maybe I changed their thinking about something? Maybe I have taught them a way to have a discussion with someone else who has a chronic illness. Or maybe I just made them laugh.

Whatever their thoughts I am grateful that my website has delivered a message to so many people. It means so much to know I’ve had over 40,000 views in the last few months.  I get emails from all over the world from people telling me I helped them.

And so when the embarrassment begins to creep hotly onto my chest and face, I think about the people I have helped and that embarrassment becomes pride.

talk about poop ulcerative colitis ibd stoma pouch

This blog, my writing and public appearances, the photographs and the hours I put into developing programmes to help kids with body confidence and self esteem, all of that stuff gives my illness a purpose. And that makes things a little easier when I’m ill, exhausted, taking meds, having surgery or recovering.

I hope if nothing else I am teaching my kids to never be ashamed of their bodies. To embrace all parts of themselves and to be proud of themselves no matter what journey their bodies take them on.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to share this and join me in the fight to stop poo being taboo.

Love Sam

How to love yourself

Im doing more and more writing about self esteem and body image and was asked to talk about ways to feel better about yourself.  This is part of my Love Yourself – You’re So Bad Ass work.

My guilty pleasure TV is Ru Paul’s Drag Race, it’s like America’s Next Top Model but for drag queens and its AMAZING.  Totally trashy but addictive.  Ru Paul has this saying at the end of every episode

ru paul if you can't love yourself

Totally right, we all need to love ourselves a little more.  And so here are my tips on how to love yourself.

STOP BUYING CRAP WOMENS MAGAZINES – any magazine that sells it’s rag by speculating about womens weight can go to hell.  Is she too fat? Too skinny? She’s got cellulite??? BURN HERRRRRRR!!!  No.  Stop buying and reading crap judgements of other women, its bad for the soul.

TELL YOURSELF YOU ARE AWESOME – you might feel stupid at first, but positive affirmations are a great way to start to think about the good things about yourself.  Say it out loud and say it proudly.  Remember that your body is listening to the words you say, so make them nice ones.

ACCEPT YOURSELF – I know this is easier said than done, but being accepting of yourself is the start of all things good.  Last year I realised I had been on a diet for 12 years and it depressed the hell out of me, for 12 years of being on a diet is 12 years of telling myself I wasn’t good enough.  I know I am overweight and I am actually losing weight right now for surgery, but in accepting that my body is beautiful just the way it is, weight loss becomes so much less of a big deal and therefore it becomes a little easier to lose the weight as I just don’t think it is the be all and end all.

Accepting how your amazing body is made will make you feel better.  That fold on your side is a beautiful and delicious imperfection that makes you unique, those wrinkles show your path through life, your scars are like the hieroglyphs of your story.  Learn to accept these things and learn to love them.

READ THIS QUOTE – “You are not fat.You have fat. You also have fingernails, but you aren’t fingernails”

GIVE AND ACCEPT COMPLIMENTS – Make a point of telling people when you think they look good, or you like their clothes, hair, perfume, anything.  And be accepting of compliments, I used to deny compliments all the time… “I love your dress!” “Really? This was from Primark and Im wearing spanx to fit it it!”  Nowadays I make a point of holding those denials back and saying “Thank you, thats really kind!”

GET OUT AND GET MOVING – Exercise really does help mood, getting out walking and breathe in that fresh air.  When I am feeling crap, I know the best thing for me is to grab the dogs lead, put on a big coat and get out walking.  It clears my mind, gives me perspective and gives me time alone.  I don’t always feel like it and sometimes have to force myself to do it, but I always ALWAYS feel better afterwards.

PERFECTION IS THE ENEMY OF GOOD – Perfection is unattainable, insisting on perfection often results in no improvement at all.  Accept that humans are all imperfect, and that is what makes us unique and beautiful.

perfect is the enemy of good

USE THE FOUR QUESTIONS – If you have a bad thought about yourself or your body, use the four questions of Byron Katie.  There is a Judge Your Body worksheet, fill it in and then use the four questions.

“In its most basic form, The Work consists of four questions and turnarounds. For example, your statement might be “[Name] doesn’t listen to me.” Find someone in your life about whom you have had that thought. Then take that statement and put it up against the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.

Step 1 Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)

Step 2 Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)

Step 3 How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

 Who would you be without the thought?

Turn the thought around. Then find at least three specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true for you in this situation.”

It is about re thinking the way we automatically think things through habit and creating new thought processes.

THINK ABOUT THE PEOPLE YOU THINK ARE BEAUTIFUL – and realise that beauty is about so much more that how we look externally.  Beauty is about kindness, love, wonder.  Beauty is different all over the world, the very narrow western ideal of beauty in magazines is not true beauty.

RECOGNISE WHEN YOU NEED HELP AND ASK FOR IT – Sometimes negative feelings are more than feeling a bit down, if bad thoughts are something that affects your life daily then perhaps it is time to ask for help.  Whether that is in speaking to your partner, family or friends or seeing a therapist or taking medication.  Your best port of call is your GP.  There is no shame in asking for help, it does not signify weakness.  Recognising when you need help shows strength and courage.  If you need it, ask for help.

Love Sam xxx

IWD talk at Barnsley Town Hall – Body Image and Self Esteem

On Saturday 8th March I was invited to talk at Barnsley Town Hall as part of International Women’s Day by Experience Barnsley.  My talk was about my journey of ten years of chronic illness, surgery and living with a stoma.  I talked about Ulcerative Colitis and how my colectomy and ileostomy affected my life.

It was about raising awareness, trying to stop poo being taboo and relating my story to the average woman.  It was about body image, self esteem, confidence and positivity and how we need to both learn how to love ourselves as women and how to pass these things onto the young women of future generations.

Have a watch and please feel free to leave me a comment telling what you think.

Thanks for watching!

Sam xx

My brave body is no less beautiful because of its scars

My ileostomy is part of me and my scars , stoma and bag make my body no less beautiful than a body without.

If you have an ostomy, be proud of it, own it, love it. It probably wasn’t part of your life plan but it’s here now and you need to accept it and know it is saving your life.

My ileostomy bag is not unattractive, it’s not scary looking or disgusting.  I love the softness and femininity of these images, the lines of my body and lines of my bag become one.

I’m proud of my body and it’s strength, I celebrate my ostomy by showing the world that beauty is not about perfection, beauty is in everything, if only we can have a mind that is open to it.

woman with ileostomy bag beauty art empowerment confidence

woman with ileostomy bag beauty art empowerment confidence

woman with ileostomy bag beauty art empowerment confidence

Love Sam x

Fashion tips for women with ileostomy or colostomy bags

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how do you choose clothes to wear with your ileostomy bag, and so I thought Id do a little post on the question…

Its a funny one because my first reaction is ‘Wear whatever the hell you want to” and that is my general rule.  But there are a few things I wear for comfort and ease…

1. Maternity trousers

I know, I know, wearing maternity trousers when you aren’t pregnant seems awful, but they are FANTASTIC.  You can get a ton of different styles these days from most high street stores and they are really affordable.

I went for maternity jeans because from the crotch down they look like any other pair of trousers, but that soft stretchy band above makes them super comfortable and holds your bag snugly against your stomach so it just feels so safe.  Wearing these means I happily wear jeans and a vest and don’t even think about my bag.

2. Don’t feel that you have to hide it

The fact is that sometimes you will be able to make out the shape of your bag under your clothes, but seriously who cares?  What is the absolute worse that will happen? Someone will ask you what it is, you tell them.  The End.  Wear what make you feel good, if you can see the bag, own it and make it awesome…

ileostomy bag and fashion

I love this tshirt and didn’t want to go bigger and get a baggy top, I know you can see the shape of my bag through and so what!

ileostomy bag and fashion

I bought this is Australia and its totally see through… I think Im rocking it!

3.  In there like swimwear

I looked at a few ileostomy swimming costumes and never found one I liked and so I just wear what I already have! On the beach or sunbathing I am happy to wear a bikini and just let is all hang out…

ileostomy bag and fashion swimwear ileostomy bag and fashion having fun swimwear ostomy stoma

If I want to cover up on the beach, or at the local swimming pool I wear a one piece, if you are bothered about people seeing it, go for a large pattern.

ileostomy bag and fashion swimwear

4. Tight fitting clothes.

You had your bowel removed, you did not become a nun.  If you liked wearing tight fitting clothes before there is no reason you can’t still wear them.  It comes down to confidence and self esteem – your bag has probably saved your life, its not something to be ashamed of, wear what makes you feel amazing.

ileostomy bag and fashion

5. Loose women

If you want to go baggy then do it, but do it because you love the dress, not because you want to cover everything up.

ileostomy bag and fashion

6. In the bedroom

I don’t usually talk about ‘bedroom stuff’ just because it isn’t really something I want my mum or kids to read, but regarding clothes Ill talk a bit.  There are some specialist lingerie sets for ostomates, I have had a look and to be honest they aren’t for me.  There are specialist wraps but in a way I find them a little bit offensive, its like saying I need to cover up my bag for my partner to find me sexually attractive.

I tend to wear a vest in bed because I feel more comfortable when my bag is close against my skin, but honestly, with the right partner, you really don’t need to worry about what you are wearing in the bedroom.  I think sex is about trust and respect, if my partner didn’t want to see my bag during sex, he probably wouldn’t be the right partner for me.

7. Underwear

I tend to wear big panties, you know the high waisted ones, I do this because I prefer to have the cotton between my skin and the bag.  Its total personal preference, you can buy specialist underwear that has a pouch in it for your bag.  I haven’t bothered with these so far as Im comfortable in what I have.

8. Wear what makes you feel amazing…

This is the main point.  Clothes are such a personal choice, there is little reason for you to change your style because of your bag.  There are a few things I avoid nowadays because of the position of my stoma, waistbands need to go above or below my stoma to feel comfortable.  I’d never stop wearing something that I loved unless it was ridiculously impractical or uncomfortable.

ileostomy bag and fashion

Wear what makes you feel awesome and amazing, you deserve it xxx

Love Sam xxx

Helen Grant – sports minister and 50s house wife?

Helen Grant, sports minister is in the news today talking about how to get more women into sport.  Her plan seems to be to get them to do ballet or roller blading so they can look “feminine” and “radiant” – or maybe they could just stand on the side lines looking pretty and keep fit by cleaning the boys kit?

“Some girls may well not like doing very traditional hockey, tennis or athletics, others might, so for those who don’t want to, how about considering maybe gym, ballet, cheerleading?” she said.

“You don’t have to feel unfeminine … There are some wonderful sports which you can do and perform to a very high level and I think those participating look absolutely radiant and very feminine such as ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even roller-skating.”

Im spitting.  SPITTING with rage.  Shall we encourage our boys into football so they can look masculine?  Or into boxing so they can be manly?  Only boys mind, we definitely shouldn’t let our princesses partake in anything so uncouth!

Speaking of consulting women as to what they want, she said “whether it’s a Zumba class or a game of rounders after they’ve dropped the kids off.”

Because come on mummies, you have nothing better to do.  Go and have a dance class, you can look amazing and do the housework later!  Leave all that horrid ‘work’ stuff to the men, they are better at it.  You should make sure you keep fit  but ensure you shower and put your face back on in time for your husband getting home from work.  And get that dinner on the table at 6pm!

My daughters current hero is Jenny Jones, we are taking her for a snowboarding lesson next week as she has been so inspired by the athlete.  She doesn’t like her because of her make up, or her ‘radiance’ – she likes her because she kicks arse, she is an amazing snowboarder and won a medal at the olympics.

helen grant sport and girls

I feel that Im constantly fighting against poor body image messages that bombard my 11 year old.  Things ARE better and there are some fantastic female role models but its this easy and relaxed sexism is everywhere, from pink toys for girls and blue for boys at an early age, to padded bras for children and music videos that are sexualised and promote an image that women must show their breasts and dance provocatively in order to make it.

Our Sports Minister is suggesting there are girls sports and boys sports.  Surely there are just sports, some kids will like contact sports, some will like boxing, rugby, football, dance, snowboarding, rollerblading or athletics.  Some of these kids will be male and some female, we should be encouraging all of them to participate in whatever sports they enjoy.

I know there is a problem with teenage girls hitting an age where they drop out of sports, but rather than trying to funnel them into ‘feminine’ sports maybe its worth looking at the reasons why they stop?  Perhaps it is to do with a negative body image that has been drummed into them for years? I hated PE at school and the reasons were that I wasn’t particularly good at group/competitive sports.  I found it embarrassing to be in a big group and being the person who couldn’t do it and I also despised the PE kit, no one feels good in PE knickers…

I also find the idea that ballet or roller blading are ‘girly’ sports that are about you looking radiant really offensive.  Ballet dancers are committed, hard working athletes who devote their lives to perfecting their art.

And if you have ever seen a female roller derby you’ll know that these are strong women who are competing hard, I doubt their bruises and injuries are particularly radiant to the minister…

Sport is sport.  I think its really important to encourage youngsters to be healthy, if exercise becomes a habit at a young age it is more likely they will continue into adulthood.  But let’s encourage them to partake in physical activity that they enjoy.  If that is Zumba, then fantastic! Enjoy it, work out, love the benefits of your body being healthier and fitter, don’t do it because you want to look pretty.

Love Sam x

International Women's day 2014

I was absolutely thrilled and blown away to be invited to be a speaker at Experience Barnsley’s International Women’s Day event on 8th March this year at Barnsley Town Hall.  It is £2.50 a ticket so if anyone fancies coming to hear me talk about bowels, shit and self esteem I would greatly appreciate the support!

international womens day 2014

 

Along with three other amazing speakers I will be doing a talk about my journey with IBD and how this and my ileostomy affect self esteem and body image.

Dr Lorna Warren is a lecturer at the University of Sheffield and is doing a talk on a project called Look at Me which has worked with women in Sheffield to explore representations of women and ageing in the media and to produce new images to challenge existing stereotypes.  An amazing project that you can see more about here.

Anne Fay is the head of education at Wallace Collection and her talk on The Beau Monde sounds fantastic.

Author and Lecturer Katie Edwards talk on religion and feminism is one Im really looking forward to.

It is an honour to share a stage with these women and though Im frankly terrified I am hoping to deliver a speech that will explain both the physical, emotional and mental affects of illness and surgery on female body image.  Ill be discussing how I dealt with the last ten years of ulcerative colitis and then my operation and how positivity has played a huge role in dealing with the emotional side of living with a stoma.

I talk about poo A LOT on this blog and the thought of talking shit to a room full of people is both amusing and scary.  In September when I lay in HDU at the Northern General in Sheffield covered in tubes, with my arms full of canulas and feeling so weak that I couldn’t lift my head, I never dreamed that six months later I would be standing in Barnsley Town Hall being a speaker for Yorkshire women.

Thanks so much for the support of all you people who regularly read my blog, Facebook and twitter.  Being part of International Women’s Day is an absolute dream come true and I just hope I do you all proud.

Thanks

 

Sam x

Bride with an ileostomy bag

I have been married to my awesome husband Timm for ten years in May 2014, we married in Las Vegas with Elvis in gold lame, an amazing experience that was so fun and just right for us at the time.  We had two small kids and the pressures of planning a big white wedding got to us and so we packed up and eloped to have the most ridiculous, fantastic wedding we could think of!

viva las vegas wedding

viva las vegas wedding

We had an absolute ball and it was just right for us, but it was marred with sadness that some people who really mattered to us couldn’t make it.  So for our tenth wedding anniversary we decided to renew our vows, that is happening this September in a ceremony and reception that we can invite all our nearest and dearest to.

I am currently in the midst of planning the whole shebang, I am spending more time than is healthy on pinterest and just trying to plan the perfect wedding for us now, ten years older and wiser.  Im looking at beautiful venues, Ive asked my (NINE) bridesmaids if they will be part of our day, we are looking at food and music, themes and Im spending a LOT of time reading Rock n Roll Bride.

But Im also feeling worried.  Im thinking about how this will be a day where Timm and I are centre of attention and crazy scared about being a bride with an ileostomy bag.  I brazen it out most of the time and if you read my blog you know Im not against showing my bag off, it helps me to think Im helping raise awareness when I talk about my experiences with a stoma but sometimes it hits me hard.

As I look through hundreds of beautiful wedding dresses I look at the fronts to see if my ileostomy bag would be on show, I think about where waist bands will sit and whether they will cut across my bag, I wonder whether my forced cheer will hold out on me wearing a big white dress.  I think about the horrific consequences of a bag leak in a wedding frock!!!

I see all this gorgeous, silky, lacy wedding underwear and laugh wryly wondering if they do anything to fit around a stoma, then I get scared that I won’t be a ‘proper’ bride whilst sporting an ileostomy under my gown.  I wailed at Timm this morning that Im going to be a bride that smells of poo… He laughed his head off and reminded me that I never smell of poo and gave me a cuddle.

Im finding it hard to put into words how I feel about being a bride with a bag, of course I know it doesn’t make a difference, but I can’t help feeling a bit sad that I won’t be a ‘perfect’ bride.  Id love to be able to take the stoma off for a day, to have one day where Im not thinking about medical things.  I want my bridal handbag to be filled with pretty things and perhaps a drop of dutch courage, not stoma adhesive and barrier creams.  I don’t want to have to worry that if I drink champagne that my bag will get gassy and Id rather my wedding night didn’t involve a big plastic bag stuck to my stomach!

I sometimes worry that Timm shouldn’t have to deal with all this, that he should  have a wife who doesn’t carry bodily waste around with her.  And I suppose those feelings are coming to a head whilst planning our renewal.  I DO know that all these things are in my head, that in reality Im a super lucky woman who has a husband who loves her.  I also know that our wedding renewal is about love.  Its a celebration of our relationship, our joy, our devotion to one another.  Its nothing to do with being perfect, anyone who has been together fifteen years knows their partner isn’t perfect, because we are all deliciously and uniquely flawed, its what makes us who we are.

Timm said to me this morning “I think you are beautiful at your very worst, at your best you have me in tears”

And thats why Im marrying him.  Again.

Love Sam xx

Feeling unattractive

Today has been a bit of a write off, after last nights abysmal sleep I spent the day feeling exhausted, emotional and just a bit crap.  There is no rhyme or reason to my emotions at the minute, sometimes Im feeling fantastic, really positive and raring to go, at other times I am feeling low, Im teary and finding things tough.

Today I am feeling very down.  I look in the mirror and see my scar and the bag and I feel so unattractive.

Before the surgery I was kind of upbeat and didn’t think I would feel bad about my appearance, I think after being ill for so long, vanity was the last thing on my mind.  But now the dust has settled and life is going on, it feels like an issue.  Im very conscious of smell – I worry that I smell of poo.  Timm tells me in all honesty that I don’t, and logically I know I don’t, the bags have filters and the output actually doesn’t smell like poo anyway!  I think its just that I am aware that I have waste sat in a pouch on my stomach and the fear of it sets in.

At times when Im feeling down, I can’t imagine how Timm can bare to be near me.  Surely it must put him off? He can’t really want to hug me or lay next to me in bed? With my gurgling stomach and bag of poo, why would he want to put his arm round me?  These feelings are tough.  My eyes are filling with tears now because those thoughts make me feel like Ive been punched in the gut.

Its hard to look in the mirror at the minute, Im both intrigued and disgusted by my new body.  Having to clean my skin and stoma means touching it and being aware of changes to my skin, but there are times when Id love to just cover it all up and not look at it, empty it, clean it.  There are times when I just want to stick my head in the ground and pretend its not there.

I worry Timm will not find me attractive any more, after all, if I don’t then how could he?  We had a chat today after I cried a LOT.  He is a wonderful fella you know, he tells me that this will never affect our relationship, that he loves me and everything will be ok.  He says all the right things and he makes it better.

The kids are honest.  Im glad of that but its still hard.  They tell me its ‘weird’ and that they don’t like seeing my stoma, they say that it upsets them and avert their eyes if they are with me when I don’t have my bag on.  We have always talked openly and honestly with the kids and the same goes with my surgery.  Its been a tough few weeks for them and Im so proud of their resilience and courage.  I can’t imagine how scary it is for a child to know their mum is having an operation and I was away from them for two weeks!  But I do feel sad, I feel like the bag is a barrier between us, they don’t like it and so they’re not as likely to sit on my knee or cuddle me and that is hard.  But I won’t push them, they need to deal with it in their own way at their own pace.  Im sure as time goes on, they will get used to it and it will just become normal.  Its such early days so I am sure things will get better.

Things WILL get better, I know that.  I will get used to my bag and it will become more normal for us all.  I keep threatening to do a quote a day on my bag a la Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys) drum skins…

matt helders drum skins

Im thinking if I have to wear this bloody thing, then I may as well rock the shit out of it!  Im trying to think positively by looking at how I can still feel like me through all of this so Im looking at clothes that will work better with a bag, ostomy covers and even some nice underwear and swimwear.

I struggled with whether to post this today.  I do not want to come across as needy or whingy.  Or as one of those girls who say ‘oh Im ugly’ so that others say ‘noooo you are SO pretty’ – you know the type!  That’s not what this is about.  Anyone who knows me, knows Im a fairly confident person.  But I thought it was important to chart the negative feelings that come about with having this surgery.  For others who are going through this to know that there are other people who are feeling that their confidence has taken a bit of a thrashing.

I refuse for this to be an entirely self pitying post, so thinking of the positives…

It was our son Charlie’s 13th birthday party yesterday, Timm planned it all and made him a BMO cake from Adventure Time and it was fab, he just had some friends over to watch a film, Timm set up the projector in the living room so it was like a cinema and made a ton of pizzas and popcorn.  A lot of Charlie’s friends are budding musicians so they brought their guitars and all had a bit of  jamming session.  It was a lovely night made better by the fact that Charlie said we weren’t an embarrassment to him… High praise from a teenager!

BMO cake adventure time

Timm and I are continuing to plan for our trip to Vietnam and Australia in December – Im so excited.  I can’t wait for us all as a family to experience so many new things and it will have been 14 months since I saw my sister and her family so it will be fantastic for us to be together again.  The fact that I don’t have to worry about a flare up just makes it all so much better.  I joined the Ileostomy and Internal Pouch support group and have been looking on the forums for travel advice.  I got a Travel Certificate which explains to airport security that I have an ileostomy, you can get one either from your stoma nurse or the IA using the link above.

Just three more days till I am off the steroids! Woohoo!! I am hoping that once I have finished the steroids that problems such as insomnia and mode swings will stop too.  There’s a good possibility that my down mood today has been magnified by the meds, so thinking of being steroid free is a real positive thing for me to look forward to, I have been on them now for almost three months.

Im sorry that todays post is a bit of a pity party.  My negative feelings today have been really overwhelming, I have cried a lot and just felt really sad.  I haven’t been out of my pyjamas and barely made it out of bed.  But I know that there will be good days as well as bad and as rubbish as today has been, I have got through it and tomorrow will be a better day!

Thanks for reading, please feel free to keep sharing the blog with anyone you think it could help.

Love Sam xx