Life with chronic illness how to feel confident in your own skin
Chronic Illness

Life with chronic illness: How to feel confident in your own skin

Chronic illness affects many parts of our lives

Chronic illness impacts so many different parts of someone’s life. Physically, it can lead to a constant state of discomfort, pain, or fatigue and limit the ability to engage in everyday activities, from simple tasks like getting out of bed to more complex ones like pursuing a career or enjoying recreational activities.

Emotionally, chronic illness can take a toll on a person’s mental well-being, causing anxiety, depression, and isolation. The uncertainty of living with a condition that often lacks a cure can also lead to a sense of hopelessness and the need to constantly adapt to new challenges.

It was difficult to see how my life drastically changed once I became sick. My reality was evolving, and I wasn’t exactly living the life I pictured. Over time, I was able to reach a point of acceptance about how my life was impacted by CVID and GLILD.

When your illness changes your physical appearance

My condition is an invisible illness, but it can sometimes cause changes in my physical appearance. The main physical change for patients that regularly use Subcutaneous Immunoglobulin Therapy (SCIg) is that there are large lumps of fluid on the infusion sites.

I have three sites in my stomach, so in the days after my treatment I have large lumps on my stomach. This can be really difficult when I am wearing a swimsuit (I live in San Diego so this is a somewhat regular occurrence) or tight outfit for an event or night out. It hurts me emotionally because I know that other people my age aren’t dealing with this, and I don’t want them to see the bandages and lumps. When I am getting ready for a night out during these times, it can make me sad and cause insecurity.

I have also had a lot of skin issues, often on my face. The worst one I have had is when I got a rash on my eyelids and mouth. I felt so insecure, and didn’t put makeup over it in fear of making it worse. I wanted to just sit in my room and hide until it was gone.

When I was going through the worst era of my disease, I was extremely stressed out. My hair started falling out in rapidly. I have always loved my hair and thought it was one of my best physical features, so this was really upsetting for me. I looked at old pictures of myself and mourned the loss of my long, thick hair.

All of these changes have knocked my confidence, so I needed to shift my mindset and figure out how to be comfortable with myself. When chronic illness manifests itself physically, it can take a toll on mental health. It’s okay to acknowledge these changes and understand that life has taken an unexpected turn.

You are allowed to be upset about what has happened to you. No one deserves to be sick. When you are affected physically, it is not always easy to pick yourself back up and love the new you.

Luckily, there are ways to cope with this and build our confidence back up. It takes some reflection and effort, but it is so worth it!

Tips for building confidence

It’s hard to be confident sometimes, and it doesn’t always happen overnight! I still struggle with confidence, and I have to actively work to feel good about myself and happy with who I am.

First of all, I want you to remember that there is only one of you. You have something special to contribute to the world that no one else can. There is not a single other person that is an exact replica of you, and that’s what makes you unique! If you’re trying to build confidence, I would suggest thinking about things that you love about yourself that make you special.

building confidence - there's only one of me and I have something special to contribute to the world

It’s also important to avoid comparing yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy. Every person is on their own path, and it can be very damaging to constantly look at what others have that you don’t.

In order to find confidence even through physical changes, you have to be willing to adapt. If you need to go shopping for new clothes or self-care items that make you more confident, then do it! You have to go out of your way to analyze how you can be comfortable with yourself, especially after chronic illness has changed your body and mind.

Surrounding yourself with supportive, caring people can also help you feel confident in your own skin. If you are facing constant scrutiny and judgement in a group of people, those are simply not your people! Finding your support system is extremely helpful, especially when health issues arise.

Another way to build confidence is through positive self-talk and positive affirmations. If you speak to yourself kindly, you will believe positive things about yourself. Tell yourself that you are beautiful, smart, worthy of love, and strong. If there is something that you are insecure about, tell yourself positive things about that aspect of yourself.

Lastly, making goals can help you boost your confidence. If you take constant steps towards those goals, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and happiness. These can be physical or mental goals!

For more tips, check out this article from Mighty Well, “6 Ways to Build Confidence Despite Chronic Illness.”

Prioritize yourself

When chronic illness strikes, it can take a toll on your mental health. Practicing self-care is always important, especially if you are on a journey towards building confidence. You got this!

give yourself grace


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