How PH Changed My Relationship With My Body

Eleanor Bird avatar

by Eleanor Bird |

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Having a chronic illness can affect a person’s relationship with their body. It can feel like their body has let them down because it’s not working exactly how it should.

Before I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH), I used to love running and going to the gym, and sometimes I become extremely frustrated when my body can’t do what I want it to anymore. 

My body also has gone through physical changes as a result of being unable to maintain the exercise regimen I had prior to diagnosis. 

I used to lift heavy weights in the gym four times a week and eat a high-protein diet, and as a result, I was a lot bigger and more muscular. Since having to slow down, I have become slimmer and lost a lot of the muscle definition I had worked to achieve.

I’m conscious of the fact that the changes in my body have been minimal, and many people facing chronic illness struggle with dramatic weight gain or loss and other more noticeable physical changes. This sometimes makes me feel guilty for worrying about the small changes I’ve experienced. For the most part, I look completely healthy. 

In fact, you might assume I was fairly athletic. Because of this, my body sometimes feels like a lie. It betrays nothing of the symptoms I experience daily. There are no telltale signs of the things I find difficult that come so naturally to others.

While I certainly have more significant things to worry about, I still have had to take the time to process the changes in my body.

As someone who loves exercise, creating new PH-friendly routines and incorporating yoga and low-impact cardio have been an important part of learning to love my new body.

Chronic illness has ultimately had a positive effect on my body image. It has given me an understanding of what my body is truly for. It also makes the idea of critically picking apart one’s body for small aesthetic flaws seem ridiculous. This new perspective has been liberating, because now I spend little to no time wishing my body looked different. 

Self-love can be difficult, but practicing body neutrality has been helpful for me. I have developed a healthy, not emotionally charged, relationship with my body. Bodies essentially are the vehicles that get us around, and some just need a little extra TLC to function properly. 


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


carol anne keilty avatar

carol anne keilty

That was very good to hear. I am having a very hard time. Mainly I have no idea what I can or can't do yet. My body is getting weaker and I don't like that. I hope that I can get everything under control eventually.


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