Caring for ourselves
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Luciana Podschun introduces the 7th issue of StomaTips
The past year was no doubt an unforgettable one. All of us lived through a global pandemic, while the Black Lives Matter campaign, the end of the Trump presidency and Brexit all unfolded. What a year, but, if you’re reading this, we made it through. COVID-19 in particular has turned our lives upside down and changed our way of living—for longer than many anticipated, and in some ways perhaps forever. We have had to learn and find ways to become adjusted to living ‘the new normal’, and hopefully it has given us a new-found appreciation for some of the small things in life.
Living under lockdown has required real resilience and strength. Having had a chronic condition for over 30 years, I’ve learned since my early days of adulthood the power of these two words, which have now come to forefront of almost everyone’s life. I imagine that many others in the stoma community also appreciate just how important resilience and strength can be.
More than ever before, I have also come to value self-care. From what I see on social media, I have not been alone in this. One silver lining of lockdown has been more downtime to invest in ourselves. I’ve certainly taking enjoyed long warm baths, baking new recipes and catching up with my reading. I’ve tried to mix these up with more physical activities, such as going for long walks or taking online yoga sessions. For many of us, these simple things have played an important role sustaining our wellbeing and mental health through a tough time.
Every day I have my self-care moment, when I do things that I love. Little did I know that I would find myself in love with making sourdough bread during the first lockdown. Cooking has become my therapy—if I am happy, I bake, but, if I’m sad, I bake as well—my kitchen is my happy place. For me, baking is a way of expressing love for my family and myself. I indulge myself by eating the cakes, breads and cookies that I make.
As I write, COVID-19 continues to take its toll on our everyday existence, and many people are still losing their lives each day. I was hoping that I would be beginning 2021 in a settled environment. However, here in the UK, we are in our third lockdown—and we don’t want to get used to it!
Fortunately, the vaccine rollout is going well, and this spring may see us re-united with friends and family. In the meantime, we should do what we can to keep our spirits up, support each other and take care of ourselves. We hope this new issue will provide you with stories of love and acceptance, as well as resilience and strength. As you read, perhaps grab yourself a cup of tea and a slice of mouthwatering cake, curl up in a cozy place and stay safe!
Stoma stars of Instagram
In a year of physical isolation, I’ve grown closer to the ostomy community over social media, especially through running the @StomaTips Instagram account. Do follow us to keep up with the magazine and learn about other amazing ostomates.
This has introduced me to many people, often other women, who have used Instagram as a platform to break stigmas about body image and to encourage others to love themselves for who they are. For women in particular, celebrating difference, being willing to wear what we like and having our stoma bag on show can be an empowering experience. Some of the inspiring accounts I follow include:
@crohnsfighting Louise shares her journey with Crohn’s disease and an ostomy, talking about acceptance, strength and empowerment
@eilidhmackay_x Eilidh shares how she has learnt to love and embrace her bag and never feel ashamed of it to others
@ibdwarriorprincess Amy posts valuable tips on maintaining mind and body confidence while having a permanent stoma
@jessicasstomajourney Jessica’s parents record their lovely daughter’s journey with a rare condition in the hope that the way she stays smiling through all that she’s been through will be an inspiration to others
@positively_stella Sarah promotes body positivity and brings awareness of the invisible conditions that many of us live with
@msjearleantaylor Jearlean supports and empowers other women with a stoma, especially with fashion tips, based on her experience of surviving cancer since she was 3 years old, having two stomas and going on to be a model, author and speaker
@thebaglifeofbeck Beck opens up about her ostomy, which she has had for 10 years, and embraces the beauty of her imperfections
Luciana Podschun, Consultant Editor