When Self-Consciousness Takes Over

It was my rock bottom. I had to spend over an hour on the phone with the credit card company to cancel charges for “magic pills” that turned out weren’t so magic after all. This magic pill company was going to begin charging me hundreds of dollars a month for absolutely nothing. I knew it wasn’t magic. I knew there was nothing that would make the weight disappear quickly. I’m smarter than that, and yet even as I punched in my credit card number with tears rolling down my cheeks, I clung to the desperate hope that they might work and make my fat go away. My self-consciousness had taken over. During week nine of quarantine, I slowly began to crack.

I didn’t notice it at first. Some nitpicking here, sucking in there, followed by a barrage of negative comments about myself. But slowly, negativity began to infiltrate my every thought. I have been sitting on countless Zoom meetings only to find that in each one I am constantly staring at myself. Oh my God, my face looks like THAT when I smile? Where did that double chin come from? Why do my cheeks look like chubby toddler cheeks? I find myself logging into meetings early just so I can spend time adjusting myself for the camera before anyone can see me. When did I become so vain? When did I become this self-conscious? More importantly, when did I start to hate myself? I realized that being at home all day has me walking past mirrors. We have them all over our house! I’m seeing my body all the time now, sometimes in a full 360 and it’s embarrassing. What happened to me?

I work out five days a week with an amazing woman. She speaks of self care and loving your body, but here I am, secretly ashamed of what I look like. I don’t drink anymore, I watch what I eat (well for the most part…technically it could be better…honestly I just love all the food!), I even went to the doctor during a freaking pandemic to have my thyroid checked. Nothing I’m doing is working. I still look five months pregnant! 

After the pill debacle, I ended up in a teary ball of hot mess on the bathroom floor. I had been standing there scrutinizing every flabby cellulited piece of me followed by yelling at myself for being so stupid to purchase some random box of pills. After a good healthy cry, I realized, it’s not really about the weight. Quarantine had finally gotten to me. My battle was with my mental health. Nine weeks at home and away from people is a long time. It’s a long time to not feel normal, to not do normal things or even wear normal clothes. Little things have turned into big things. Small insecurities have become blaring alarms because there is nothing else going on. 

I share this to let you know, it’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to have been perfectly fine and then all of a sudden be melting down. These are hard times, the uncertainty and not knowing when it will end takes its toll. If no one has told you yet, hear it from me: No matter how strong you think you are, it’s okay to not be okay. No one will walk out of this unprecedented time and be like, “Yeah, that wasn’t so bad.” 

Your mental health is important and doing things to stay mentally healthy requires forethought. Just remember, baby steps. Take care of you. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Mindset is so crucial during challenging times. I know that I’m not going to look in the mirror tomorrow and see something different. But I will SAY something different. I am implementing a “Loveable Look.” Anytime I catch myself looking in the mirror or checking myself out on Zoom, I will stop and say one positive thing about my body. Dark thoughts lead to darkness and I’m terrified of the dark. I wanna be in the light. So let your light shine too, Mama! If we all shine bright, then maybe we won’t feel so alone.

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“I’m Marsha, the devoted wife of a Nebraska Husker fan, mother to a sweet laid back 11-year-old boy named Kellen and a 9-year-old spunky know-it-all named Rowen. I am a Kansas City native, proud Northwest Bearcat Alumni, and enthusiastic 4th grade teacher! I enjoy stolen moments where I can read in peace, indulging in chocolate chip cookies whenever possible, tending to my vegetable garden and finding new ways to annoy my daughter! My goal in life is to be my authentic self, follow the motto of ‘She did what she could,’ and share that with other moms!”