Updated: May 21, 2021
When did we decide we have to do it all?
Lipedema is a word that gives so many women a sense of relief because the disease explains so much about the craziness they've experienced for years. Rapidly followed by that relief is often a sense of being completely overwhelmed. People are always quick to offer advice about what you should be doing, what you MUST do, to manage a disease that most people know very little about. The pictures of late stage lipedema, accompanied by stories of pain and loss of mobility, drive a fear into us that can begin to take root and we become desperate to do something...anything!
It's really important to remember that doing something does not mean doing everything. Trying anything in the face of a painful chronic illness does not equal 100% perfection and adherence to whatever you've decided will work for you. And, maybe most importantly, managing your own journey does not mean it has to or even should look like someone else's journey.
You have a condition that your body battles every single second of every single day. You carry the burden of that and the words of so many who have told you what you should or shouldn't do for years. Even if those people meant well, the end result is that nothing at all succeeded at preventing lipedema from invading your body and your life.
There are women who have made terrible food choices their whole lives and never exercised and never have lipedema. There are women who have always been active and athletic and eat organic food and make conscientious decisions to live the healthiest lifestyle they can, but lipedema finds them. There are women with lipedema who seemingly did all the right things and continue to do all the right things and they watch their bodies rebel. The truth is, we can't know exactly how or when lipedema will show up or get worse so we don't need to keep beating ourselves up for every single little thing we've ever done that may or may not have affected this disease.
People are not kind. Sometimes life is not kind. Lipedema is not kind. But you can extend grace to yourself in the middle of it all. You don't have to make excuses for yourself or make careless decisions, but you can allow yourself to make small steps rather than force yourself to take huge leaps. You can focus on what is best for you, on your unique journey, and allow that to be okay. You can celebrate progress in the moment instead of dwelling on what you might have done better or what someone else is doing differently.
Breathe in, breathe out. Take one day at a time. Perfectly imperfect progress is enough.