Alice Catherine Alice Catherine

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything to do with female health, and I know this is a part of my blog that has united a lot of people and hopefully made them feel less alone. I wanted to write about dealing with a chronic illness, and more importantly, how long it’s taken me to accept that label without shuddering when I say it out loud…

For those of you that haven’t read my previous posts and have no idea what I’m rambling on about – they are all linked in the ‘female health’ section if you want to read about the history of my vagina. It’s riveting stuff, so I won’t bore you by repeating the last ten years worth of doctors appointments and operating tables…

Clothes are fun to talk about for a while, but most of my relationship with clothing has derived from masking low self confidence and focusing too much on my exterior. Whilst it’s not something I think anyone should feel guilty about, it does make me more conscious of certain behaviours. It’s healthy to want to look like the ‘best version’ of yourself, but sometimes this can get a bit warped along the way if you’re compensating for something that’s lacking internally. I think it’s important to recognise when bad habits come disguised as ruthless reminders that we might be ignoring something integral. For instance, when I start to feel as though I ‘need’ materialistic things – I know that I’m probably feeling lousy about myself, and I tend to believe a new pair of shoes will magically make the problem go away…

I remember being overweight in my early teens – I used to spend hours making my eyes up with big extravagant cat eye flicks and copious amounts of badly blended eyeshadow. It was because I wanted people to focus on my eyes in the hope that they might forget my body. It makes me sad that I thought that way, but nobody overthinks a body as much as the person living inside it.

It was just a few months ago when I was having a conversation with someone about my female health journey and they responded with ‘oh wow, so this has been a chronic thing for you then’. I’d never even thought to assign that word to what I’d been dealing with since the age of fifteen. I think I’d once dramatically self diagnosed myself with chronic fatigue in university – failing to see how partying most of the week and chipping away at coursework until the early hours of the morning might be the real problem…

I jumped out of my skin a little bit when I first heard it. Perhaps a defence mechanism because I’d spent most of the last ten years trying to convince myself everything was fine, and that I wasn’t going to be ruled by my fucking vagina. Like some weird game of tug of war with my blossoming womanhood. Except I very much felt like a flower that never quite bloomed to it’s potential.

I was sad for a while that I hadn’t even stopped to think amidst all the ups and downs that what I was dealing with was chronic. I hadn’t stopped to process a huge chunk of my existence and accept that there was no shame in what I was dealing with. Then there was a moment when it dawned on me that this was something I’d probably be dealing with on and off for the rest of my life, and whilst I had an extremely understanding boyfriend, most of the understanding would have to come from deep within myself…

In so many ways, I’m so so fortunate. I think sometimes the internal guilt I experience is my downfall though. I carry around this almost inbuilt pain that makes me just want to focus on doing anything else but helping myself. It’s really only been in the last couple of years that I’ve started to really condition that self destructive part of me that wants to give up easily to keep on fighting.

It’s taken me twenty six years to start thinking ‘y’know what, I’m a pretty good person, and I’m confident in that statement’. Like most people, I could always be ‘better’ in some way, but I can’t stress enough how much learning to fall in love with ourselves is half the battle when it comes to any sort of suffering. We have to believe that we are enough and that we are capable of greatness. If I cut down anyone else’s journey by sharing my experiences on here, then it’s all worth while.

Ultimately, I guess I’ve learnt that the world doesn’t stop whilst your working on yourself – it carries on spinning around you. We have to try and make sense of the blurry space around us and find the strength to keep on moving forward. Chronic might feel long and exhausting and unsexy and unfair – but it’s part of me. It’s part of my little journey whilst I’m on this earth, and if I don’t make the bloody best of it, no one else will…

Photographs taken by Catherine Booty 

Outfit – both vintage pieces, Shoes c/o – Vagabond

P.S, I never know what kind of images to put alongside writing like this. I took these in the studio last week and I love how simple they are. I felt good about myself, and that’s really what this post is about overall. Feeling good about ourselves, despite everything that causes us pain… 

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  1. Julia says:

    What you wrote about how the world keeps going even when you’re working on yourself and you feel like it’s at a stand still for you- couldn’t agree or relate more. I was dealing with something really serious health wise a couple of years ago and for me, it felt like everything stopped. It was only when I was through it all that I realised everyone else had moved on, I’d even lost friends in that time. I guess what I learned as well is you have to learn how to live within whatever you’re going through, and to find some kind of happiness or contentness in that.

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

  2. Chloe says:

    This post is so beautifully written! I haven’t read your posts on your chronic illness but I’m going to check them out now!
    Chloe X

  3. So much love for you. Thank you for your bravery and honesty! xoxo

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