Because I was born in a family where mental illness is common, in some ways I had to grow up fast. That means I didn’t get to do some of the very very stupid things teenagers do, because I had this huge sense of responsibility and consequences. And that means that today, fully grown up, I find myself making some really stupid mistakes. Like a teenager.
Earlier this month I was at the mall doing some shopping when I passed by a hair salon. I needed to cut the ends a little so I figured why not. When I got out of the hair salon I already had the feeling that it didn’t quite look the way I wanted it to but it was only when I got home that I saw it looked nothing like I wanted it to. So what did I do? I picked up a pair of scissors (oh no she didn’t) and I chopped off huge chunks of my hair. My really long and precious hair.
It was bad. A chainsaw wouldn’t have probably made a worse job. My hair is difficult to cut, even for hairdressers, because it’s long, heavy, thick and unruly. And there’s a lot of it. So what was I thinking? I sobbed (like a teenager), called my mom (like a teenager), sobbed some more, and then the next say I was back at a hair salon where the hairdresser had to cut a lot more to make it look like I’m a respectful and presentable grown up.
Obviously now, after some time has passed and I got used to looking in the mirror again, I can laugh. (And you can too, please laugh with me.) After all, it’s only hair and it grows back. But the thing is, I wasn’t crying about the hair, was I? This whole thing happened because I was so frustrated and mad. All throughout my life I’ve always had this feeling that no one gets my needs no matter how I try to explain them. My parents have mostly been clueless about what I need, my acupuncturist kept wanting to treat my legs no matter how many times I told him I never had trouble walking, my therapist told me my insomnia was due to Tecfidera even though I told her it was anxiety and I wanted to focus and work on that… and now et tu, hairdresser?
So I did the usual thing and turned the whole frustration and rage on me. Because if I try my best to explain and no one gets it, that’s got to be my problem, right? There’s gotta be something wrong with me, right? I mean, the whole world can’t be wrong and I’m the only one right…
So this in essence was like self-harm. Obviously not as bad as cutting myself, cutting my wrists or jumping out the window. But I turned against me and attacked a part of me I was really proud of. I was growing my hair for both practical and symbolic reasons. My hair helped me hide my neck and chest whenever Tecfidera made me flush. The length of it helped distract people from the fact that at the top some uninvited and unwelcome gray hairs are lurking. It made me feel shielded because it covered my upper rib cage, where the heart and lungs are, and also hid the fact that I’m a AA cup and you can sometimes see my ribs even though I have normal weight for my height (everything I eat goes straight to the buttocks and thighs). Also, my hair made me really proud because it didn’t thin even though I take six different medications every day. A lot of women complain that some meds make their hair thin but not me. I thought if I’m sick but my hair still looks healthy it’s because it’s not that bad, I will be fine. And finally, let me cringe a little at this confession: my ex-boyfriend loved my hair. When we broke up I decided to let it grow so that if one day we passed each other on the street he would see all that he’s missing. (I feel so embarrassed writing this… I really have to catch up on being a teenager.)
Now I just feel naked. I look even younger than I already did so no one’s gonna take me seriously. I can’t even begin to formulate the thought of flirting with anyone, though that’ll be another post (flirting and MS is a funny topic). I wonder, was I looking for an excuse to loathe the face in the mirror again? Because I’d been feeling pleased with my image for the first time since puberty, so was that self-sabotage? Was I looking for an excuse to hide at home again? Because I was going out more, but the world is such a dangerous place, so full of deception and disappointment…
So February still isn’t the time and place I stopped hurting. My anxiety and insomnia are making me think I’m going to ask for an antidepressant when I see my psychiatrist next week. Escitalopram used to make wonders for my anxiety and sleep quality. It’s better than taking benzodiazepines like Xanax, and hopefully it will be temporary until I find a new therapist who wants to work with me on my anxiety issues.
In the meantime second semester started at the uni and it was a bad start. Because they cancelled one of my courses I had to choose another. The day classes started I found out someone screwed up and enrolled me in the wrong one. I told them I wanted social marketing and they enrolled me in political marketing (dudes, you had one job). Another instance of people not listening to me? Or reading me, as it was all by e-mail…
Dear universe, can I have things my way for just once? Just once? Can I have something that I want without this amount of effort, and concern, and disappointment?
But because not everything’s bad, I’m going to end this post with the only truly good thing that happened this month. Remember that dance and movement therapy workshop I talked about? It happened. And it was intense and intensive. For two long days we gave it all. It was both physically and emotionally demanding, but it was also immensely rewarding. This is the difference when I think about my job. I give a lot and when I leave I’m exhausted, but only because I feel that I didn’t get anything back – not recognition, not a good enough paycheck, not a friendly smile. With the workshop, I gave so much but I also received so much. So much input, so much insight, so much energy, so much human touch… And touch is so important it could be a whole other post. But right now I just want to say that when the workshop ended I felt tired but the good kind of tired. And there’s a world of difference.