Who Did I Need to Impress?

05/12/2015 02:17 pm ET | Updated May 12, 2016

When you must face the weathered look of chronic illness day in and day out those fleeting glances in the reflection can become quite unpleasant. The dark circles, botchy rashes, medical devices, and even physical disfigurements act as a constant reminder of the life you have been unwillingly thrust into -- a life drastically altered by new limitations and circumstances beyond your control.

As a young woman battling an illness that has taken quite a tole on my physical appearance, I struggled with my unfamiliar view in the mirror. Year after year I watched my reflection change, seeing the features I had become accustom to slowly disappear, overcast heavily by a permanent state of exhaustion.

At a time I found myself too drained of energy to apply even a small coat of make-up, or have the strength in my arms to preform simple tasks like drying my hair. As someone who enjoyed the art of make-up and styling profoundly before illness I found this new appearance emotionally tasking. I no longer saw a vibrant and well groomed woman which weigh heavily on my happy, confident demeanor. Self confidence is such an integral part of a every woman's life, without it we slowly slip into a husk of our former selves; no longer dynamic parts of society, we seem to slip into the back ground hoping not to be recognized -- even by ourselves. With appointment after appointment, and a social life slipping away due to illness, I found even more reason to not be bothered with the trouble of primping my appearance; after all, I had no one there to impress -- or did I?

I found myself in a deep rut, one that seemed governed by my illness and lack of confidence in this new body. One day I had awoken in less of a fog before a morning appointment, the pain slightly elevated from my aching body. I walked into my small bathroom across the hall and saw that painful reflection that acted as a reminder every day of the disease that so ruled my life.

Suddenly I had a strong urge to see that woman again, the confidant woman who applied the perfect winged-tip eyeliner and a clean coat of red lipstick. With the extra energy I had I slowly took out my make-up bag and applied the solid routine I had become accustom to for so may years previous. Staring back at me was someone I recognized, and her smile lit up the room.


I conquered that day with a renewed vigor, one I hadn't felt in months. I walked with confidence past every mirror, each glance regaining more of former myself.

While I realize this all sounds horribly vain, that an appearance can't possibly make someone truly feel "better," the reality is, when illness seizes your fragile existence and everything you have ever known is torn from you, a little boost of confidence is never selfish! Even the days when I feel awful, the days when I am having procedure after procedure, am seeing physician after physician, or during my many long rounds of chemotherapy, I can look in the mirror and be reminded that the young vivacious woman is still in there somewhere.

So who did I need to impress? It turns out it was me.