Day 15. I’m participating in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC). Today’s question is: “Health tagline” Give yourself, your blog, your condition, or some aspect of your health a tagline. Make sure it’s catchy!
The tagline for Fashionably ill, (which is on the left hand corner of the site), is “Surviving pain with style and humor.” I have four illnesses (bipolar II, polycystic ovarian syndrome, asthma, and Myasthenia Gravis or MG). MG is a neuromuscular autoimmune disease. Within two years after being diagnosed with MG in 2008, I gained two dress sizes—a product of being on twelve medications (hello Prednisone!) and being bedridden for over a year. I was 24-years old at the time of my diagnosis.
The Irony of Gaining Weight
When my body and face changed, I initially struggled to dress myself. Over three years, I took notes on what works and doesn’t work—those style notes gave birth to this blog. For two years, between 2008 and 2010, I received a lot of insults about my appearance (example: “You’re so fat; I could barely recognize you”) from people who knew I was sick. Growing older with illness has changed me and ironically, I have even greater confidence and a better body image than I did when I was young and healthy. I enjoy giving makeovers to women who are chronically ill (see my makeover of Lou, a woman with MS, fibro, diabetes, and PCOS). My goal is to give more makeovers to chronically ill women of all kinds of illnesses. I believe that every woman has certain inalienable rights: the right to beauty, style, and the pursuit of confidence.
Laughter Helped Me and My Family Through Dark Times
In addition to dealing with the psychological effects of changing appearance, one thing many patients don’t hear enough about is the power of laughter. We hear about medications, and the importance of exercise, family, and (sometimes) faith but we don’t talk enough about humor. Laughter has helped me survive the mood swings of bipolar disorder and the excruciating physical pain of my ovarian and autoimmune diseases. The ability to laugh in the face of tragedy has also buoyed my family through some of our darkest days. The year I was diagnosed with MG, my maternal aunt was also diagnosed with stage-three colon cancer. My “Tita Baby” was sixty-years old then. Between my medical procedures and her chemo, it was a grueling year for the whole family. After a year of chemo, she was declared cancer free! Her daughter, my cousin, was finally able to have a real wedding—a church wedding. We even had a party to celebrate my aunt’s healing. And then a few days later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her cancer didn’t spread; instead she was actually fighting a separate strain of cancer. When we found out the news, our family—thirty aunts, uncles, cousins—gathered at our favorite Thai restaurant. That night we prayed, cried, and even laughed. While our faith anchored us, our ability to laugh in the face of tragedy sustained us. My aunt beat cancer again.
Sharing Laughter Through Fashionably ill
On this blog, I’ve written about the science of laughter—how the physical act of laughing releases endorphins, “the feel good” hormones, which help us manage pain. I regularly share funny viral videos in “Comedy Corner” posts (like Kevin Bacon’s Footloose Entrance on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show) and jokes my six-year old nephew, Mikko, tells. For some reason, people tell me they find my stories entertaining. To me, it’s just my daily life, but I’m happy whenever my blog makes someone in pain smile.
Stay tuned! Tomorrow I’ll be answering another question for Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge.
Meet Other Warriors
“Like” us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/fashionablyill. I post funny memes about chronic illness that I usually don’t post on the blog. Readers with various illnesses often share their thoughts—serious and funny.
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno