It started at ten years old. Fourth grade tested my patience; I snuck books under my desk and made myself ill just to distract myself from boredom. I noticed sometimes if I tugged gently at my eyelashes, they would come right off in delicate little clumps. Sometimes three, sometimes five, sometimes as many as eleven would fan across my index finger like I had blinked them off. Eyelashes began dusting my desk at school, the pages of the books I read. Pretty soon the soothing feeling of yanking them out addicted me. I started sporting itchy bald patches on my eyelids, eyes burning and watering.
My mom noticed and asked, what happened to your eyelashes? I lied and told her they just fell out, but she knew better and took me to the doctor. By that point I decided not to pull them out anymore, because it stopped feeling good and I did look kind of funny without eyelashes, like an alien subspecies of human Darwin forgot to include in his notes.
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At sixteen I dyed my hair red for a few years, then blonde for a school play. In college, there were no more plays, no more choir, no more newspaper – only step-by-step instructions for becoming a Responsible Citizen. By nineteen my hair grew brittle, splitting off at the ends and fuzzing out like the bristles of a broom. I could sit through a lecture and covertly pick off my split ends, hunting carefully through the clumps and locating them like mines. They multiplied, those split ends, and soon a fine haze surrounded my face: a halo of broken, picked-through hair. Bi-annual haircuts did not quell the encroaching pests – the only thing that did was a glass of Cabernet, which made the fight against split ends not matter as much.
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I have been off the hormones for about six months now. They don’t mix well with my antidepressants, turning me into a sterilized Stepford-ish creature I don’t recognize. However, as an unwanted side effect to hormone-free living, I now have acne. Blemishes decorate my face and arms as they didn’t eleven years ago during my actual teenage years. They don’t clear up with unscented soap, unscented organic lotion, unscented laundry detergents or unscented fabric softeners; clean eating and a sugar-free diet hasn’t helped, either.
I scratch and pick at these blemishes obsessively, as if raking my fingernails over the rocky surface will render it smooth. My arms and t-zone dotted with scabs and swollen, tender flesh, cry out for me to leave them alone; the day-to-day tedium with no end in sight compels me to pick just a little more, scratch just a little harder until they bleed and scab, when I know I’ve purged the noxious spots from my skin.
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As of right now, this story has no end, no and then I went on Ativan epilogue to tidy up these nervous tics. I don’t want to throw a mask over the symptoms without addressing the issues that extend far beneath the surface.
I’m trying to do that here.