Mental Health Confessional | One | Beauty Queen

This is a picture of me! It is approximately three years old. My eyebrows are third cousins and not sisters, I know. Love me anyway.

My beauty routine includes upwards of 400 regular products and 1,000 supplemental products. It starts in the morning when I take 5 vitamin pills (one iron, three hair/skin/nails, one D) and 3,000 mg of Vitamin C. I take a number of measures throughout the day to keep my skin, hair, nails, and insides looking and feeling as good as possible and it doesn’t even end when I go to sleep at night because I use a night cream, an eye cream, a leave-in conditioner, etc. It’s excessive and crazy and costs me a ton more money than I reasonably have as a freelancer in college. But you know what? I enjoy it.

But I only do this some of the time. I have Major Depression and more than one anxiety disorder. Neither of this is really pretty. I don’t mean that in some kind of metaphorical sense, but in real life. My anxiety and depression do terrible things to my body. Here’s a list:

  • I lose hair in clumps when my anxiety is high.
  • My skin is always really dry, either from stress or sleep deprivation or what-have-you.
  • My weight can fluctuate 20-30 pounds up or down each month depending on which mental health issue is winning the race to kill me.
  • I have thin, brittle nails.
  • I have stiff joints and muscle pains that make my walking unnatural.
  • I have discoloration around my eyes.
  • My skin is often sickly and pallid and color.
  • My hair breaks easily.
  • My eyebrows are thin, dry, and grow very differently.
  • My eyelashes shed like crazy sometimes.
  • My face can swell or bloat from exhaustion or water retention.

Listen, I consider myself blessed with thick, healthy hair and nice skin. Genetically, I got really lucky. But the worst part about my mental health issues’ war against my body (as far as appearance goes) is that I don’t have the energy to combat it when I’m down. It takes enough effort for me to drag myself out of bed that the idea of doing much more than brushing my hair and teeth is incomprehensible. Not even that sometimes. Having depression can be downright nasty. I’ve gone weeks without showering before just from the lack of energy and interest. I’ve left my hair un-brushed for a month. I’ve skipped brushing my teeth more than one day in a row. I once lived in a shirt for almost two weeks without washing it or taking it off. I got really good at hiding the fact that I was a total slob.

But then, after a while, I’d slowly go back to being my old self. It happens gradually, with regular showering and teeth-brushing. Then I’ll start doing masks and face washes again and then creams and makeup will come. To other people, it seems like a really weird, slow-moving elevator ride. For me, it’s more like being on a roller coaster that doesn’t work going uphill so I’m left to figure out how to get back up and over the next hill on my own.

And so, when I do have the energy to take care of myself, I do it very well. Simply because I’m not sure how long it will last.

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