a woman with NMO looks in the mirror and accepts herself and her body with confidence

The Beauty of Stretch Marks

For my whole life, I have been an athlete. I have always been active and tried my best to stay in shape. I also never really paid attention to a scale, but I never weighed more than 120 pounds.

The journey of finding confidence with NMO: Let's rewind

After my sophomore year of college, I planned on going to Division 1 for track and field. My times now aligned with the athletes in the Division 1 schools. This is where the best of the best is. I also started to receive offers from other schools.

My jam-packed schedule

Two months before the end of my freshman year, I had a stress fracture in my shin and severe hip pain.

I woke up at 6 AM, headed to do my morning workout, went to class, attended therapy, went to class again, went to therapy again, then practiced. After practice, I'd lift weights.

This rigorous schedule was hard on my body.

When things went wrong

I loved doing it, don’t get me wrong. But something about my body wasn’t feeling right. I chalked it to the intense, intense schedule and stress I had.

Waking up in college one day, I felt off. I felt exhausted, and I couldn’t move my arm. My friend cracked my back the night before, and I believed it was linked to that.

Knowing what I know now, I was falling ill with MOGAD. I had no idea.

When NMO changed everything

Fast forward to the summer, my workout regimen became intense, and I got a small offer from a company to be their fitness model. And, I was practicing and hitting the D1 track and field times.

I have never felt so powerful, fast or strong before.

But the unfortunate thing was that NMO took me to my peak. I went from feeling the best I’ve ever felt in my life to fighting for my life - in a matter of two weeks.

After my NMO diagnosis, I lost drastic amounts of weight in the hospital, only to be put on high-dose prednisone for an extended amount of time and gain over 80 pounds. Prednisone saved my life. But we all know the damage it causes.

My weight has been so up-and-down that it’s been hard to find clothes that stay fitting or feel confident when I go out. I love fashion, and I love going out in my best outfit. NMO knocked that confidence right off of me when I got my diagnosis.

Loving my body as it changes with my NMO

Finding confidence with NMO when your body is constantly changing can feel like looking into an empty hole. In a matter of weeks, the body that I knew I had worked so hard for became rigid with stretch marks.

From my arms to my hips to my backside in my stomach, the stretch marks were bright, purple, and red, and I felt like it would never go away.

It was the most prominent thing people looked at when they saw me, so I have become accustomed to wearing long sleeves and long pants. I’ve always been a crop top and shorts kind of gal, but my confidence in those clothes was quickly thrown out of the window.

My stretch marks

Over the past couple of years, my stretch marks have gotten lighter. As I work to tone up my body, I become appreciative. I may not fit society's standards of a beautiful body. But, my body is beautiful - simply for getting me through NMO, this rare disease that tried to take my life.

Living with love and gratitude for myself

Confidence is something that you find. It also finds you, but it can only find you if you remain hopeful that you’ll be comfortable in your own skin one day. It takes a lot of self-love, looking in the mirror.

I’m still working on my confidence, but it slowly continues to grow day by day. I now think stretch marks are beautiful, and I think they give me such a unique look. I’m proud of my body.

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