I think that for the most part, I try to present a happy face to the world. My “I’ve got it together” or my “I can handle this” face. I answer “How are you?” with “I’m fine” or “I’m good” … is being ‘fine’ even a thing? Could it be any more non-committal?

Lately, I don’t feel so fine. Or good. I do know that I’ve discussed the struggles I have with auto-immune issues here before, my struggles with my psoriasis and arthritis.

But basically the quick(ish) re-cap being that I had blood tests for food intolerance about 7 years ago, and was able to reverse my symptoms by cutting out those intolerances after having my 2nd child. Fast forward to baby number 3 and it wasn’t going well, so I opted for medication, which cleared up my symptoms. I had to go off that medication for surrogacy. It’s been about two years now, more or less. And I’ve been symptomatic the whole time.

Some more details …

The arthritis comes and goes – or at least goes to a point where it’s at an ‘everyday’ level that I don’t really think about. The psoriasis never goes. Which means I’ve spent two years in long sleeves and pants, in lots of foundation, in bangs, in scarves, in a lot of different cover ups to keep it hidden from the world.

I did 10 months of cleanses and avoiding my intolerant foods prior to my first transfer. I kept going, with no clearing up, because I thought “if I stop, it will get even worse”. I’ve tried on and off since then, but really struggle with finding the motivation to stick with it.

Psoriasis on me is very red skin, covered with scaly dry skin, in spots and patches – my forearms are always covered in large patches, so are my shins, my lower back, my right side, and usually my forehead. I get occasional flare-ups on my face, in my cleavage, and other spots here & there. It’s one of those things that people stare at – lots of people don’t know what it is … and sometimes they physically recoil from it. Close friends and family have seen me in short sleeves, or without makeup. And there are people who believe it isn’t a big deal, & I shouldn’t bother covering it up. I hear them … but until you’ve seen the look in people’s eyes as they see it & take a step back from you like maybe you’re contagious … it’s hard to understand it from my perspective. So I cover up. You should see my cardigan collection! But they aren’t a lot of fun in the heat, and frankly I’m ready to spend a summer in t-shirts.

My latest attempt to get it under control is cutting out all my intolerant foods, and all grains. I had cut out all nuts, beans, seeds etcetcetc as well, but I found I was lagging from not enough protein & not willing to eat meat three meals a day. So I’ve added hemp seeds to my morning smoothies, and some almonds/ almond butter when I feel like it.

Now the absolute injustice (in my eyes) is that making a drastic change, supposedly for the better, still flares up my symptoms. So my arthritis is flared up in my hands, and my psoriasis on my face … and it’s seriously bumming me out. It really taxes my will to follow through with this when I currently feel worse.

The combination of that, and the hormones (I’m back on meds for the next transfer) … well, I feel like the whole thing is messing with my head. I don’t usually consider myself a vain person, but this is delivering me a beating in my female pride. Like a look-at-myself-in-the-mirror-and-cry kind of beating. I don’t know how much of that is fuelled by the on-again-off-again hormone protocol that this has required, or if it’s just honest feelings.

I wouldn’t change doing this for anything, don’t get me wrong. I’m still committed to this surrogacy journey, and my amazing IP’s. I’m just taking a moment to acknowledge my challenges.

I did something I never do the other day, because I was really struggling and felt dragged down … so I went semi-public. I follow this group on Instagram called effyourbeautystandards. It’s all about throwing off the societally accepted version of “beauty”, which I think is a great thing – especially raising kids in this day and age. I posted a picture of my face without & with makeup on, tagged that group, with the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards.

Why? I needed to just let go a little of the hiding … of the feeling like I need to cower in shame so that no one has to see me. It felt pretty liberating, and there’s some very supportive souls out there, who said some very encouraging things to me – which fed my soul. I still feel a little “look at me, pay attention to me, feed my ego” over it – but I needed something in that low point, and I always tell my kids – you are entitled to your feelings & ask for help if you need it.

So I’m still struggling, but a little bit less than I was. I’m still trying to sort out which of my feelings are mine, and which ones are chemically generated/ altered by the meds.

I’m struggling with this post … part of me desperately wants to erase it all and type “I’m fine!!”. And I will be fine. I will be good. Great. Sad. Mad. Scary-hormonal… and a whole bunch other emotions. Hopefully not all in the same hour, but you never know. And so the ride continues.