First off: Happy New Year, and hello to 2014. I hope you all had a wonderful, happy, and safe holiday season, and that 2014 has started off kindly for you. Now for today's post.
I didn't want my blog to become too busy, and so I've thought about this a lot. Long story short, all the 'health' details - at least in relation to birth control and laser hair removal - are very much beauty related for me, and as this is a predominantly beauty-based blog, they are indeed relevant to this blog's content.
Or you can call me lazy, which is fine, but I indefinitely want to share this, period. I don't care where or how. And I want to share it now. Especially now.
My name is Nikki and when I was 9 years old I went through what I like to call child's depression. That is, the phase of 'depression' that most kids/teens eventually crash through, where they 'hate themselves' and 'want to die' over whoever and whatever. For me, it was a matter of my parents getting divorced, my body hitting puberty just a year earlier, my face being covered in acne, and my grandmother having a stroke, which meant my mom spending a huge portion of her time in the hospital. I was used to going with her and my brother places, and with her temporarily out of the picture I had a ton of free time. I had my first laptop and Word became my best friend. For the next two or so years I would tear myself apart verbally in daily diary entries.
To this day I continue to rebuild my self-esteem because of all the nasty things I wrote to myself. Thankfully I eventually decided to let those documents go with the laptop they were on. But I digress. To go on with the story, things continued to go downhill when I had my first 'love,' who finally returned the feelings back - or so I thought - before making me degrade myself and, in the end, never giving me the time of day. I should have known better but I was 12 going on 13 by that time and became accustomed to keeping everything tucked away inside. All I wanted was for an outsider to verify my worth because I didn't know any better, and in the end he didn't and I went further down.
I don't remember why, but during the rough years of 10 to 14 I suddenly became interested in makeup - particularly lip gloss (because I loved how it looked when I sang) - and before I knew it, makeup became my bandage. Every time I felt sad, I bought a new lip gloss. Soon I started spending all my time browsing through Sephora's website to see what lip glosses were new on the market. That's where the picture at the start of this blog comes in: in February of 2004, I joined the popular beauty reviewing site, Makeup Alley, and started writing reviews for all of the products I was purchasing. It was a genuine hobby - second to writing - and the only beautiful thing that stemmed out of the ugly mess I put myself through.
|Clearly I was already a Sakamoto Maaya fan, lol.|
So makeup was a close-to-heart hobby from when I was 10, yet if you read through older reviews on this blog, you may notice me saying that I just recently started up my interest in makeup again. As such, you may also wonder this: why did I stop wearing makeup for 7 years, when it was indeed a genuine hobby? Honestly, to this day I regret giving up on that hobby all these years, because if I stuck with it I could have probably made something out of my love for makeup, and now I can't because it's too late and doesn't help with other current, time-based goals. With that being said, though, I want to take the time out now to answer that question, as it has to do with something that has shaped myself a great deal.
In the midst of mentally hurting myself, letting others drag me down, and having this one hobby of makeup as my anchor, something else came up. I remember the day I was in the passenger seat driving who knows where with my mom, how she looked at me and said I had something - dirt or who knows what - on my neck. I pulled the mirror down and checked, wiping at whatever it was, but realizing there was nothing new there - at least not new to me. It was hair, and hair that I never truly noticed because I never remembered when I got it.
And then, as I finally started to pay attention to it, I saw it was not only along my neck, but along my jawline and my lip as well. I saw that what I had was far from normal for my gender, and I saw that lip gloss only drew attention to it. I stopped wearing lip gloss, I started sporting my long hair down to cover the sides of my face, and I felt mortified.
There is something to be said about the importance of gender, and how it is, in a way, our first definition of ourselves. "I am a girl. I like to play with dolls. My favorite color is pink. I'm growing breasts. My period just started. I go in the girls' bathroom at school." When I discovered that I had facial hair, I don't even know how to concisely describe how I felt. It was a mix of disgust, humiliation, sadness, and confusion. I just wanted to cover it or, better yet, get rid of it. I remember going through moments of frustration and emotional hurt where I locked myself in the bathroom and started painfully tweezing multiple hairs off my face at once for more than thirty minutes, only to see that there was still hair left behind because there was too much to tweeze off. Then I tried bleaching it, only to see that sunlight made it even more obvious when it was blonde.
When I finally had my first boyfriend, it took all I had in me to share my problem with him. Regardless, I did it, and the fact that he didn't care helped tremendously (I was still dependent on others' verification of my worth at that time), but bottom line was my problem was still there. Before I knew it, I had acne in the same areas as the hair, as well as acne all along my upper back and shoulders. I never bought tanktops because I was too ashamed of how disgusting my back looked. I was self-conscious all the time.
To this day, the start of a new relationship has always been to tell the new guy about my problem, because to this day it has remained a problem and one that I still struggle to be OK with, though I've gone through - and continue to go through - different treatments.
Society does not help. I'm sure you've heard about the 'bearded lady' at the freak shows, or perhaps you've seen the show The Swan, which I was so blessed to see at the age of 13. Facial hair on women is ugly. Women can't be pretty with it. It's not normal. God, all of it can make a girl hate herself and do way more damage than anyone else ever can. Does no one realize that?
As I got older, I did research on my problem. It's termed hirsutism and it deals with excess unwanted facial hair on women, and excess hair in general on women where they normally wouldn't have to deal with any. Good old Google shows that it's actually a lot more common than one may be led to think, and that so many girls suffer emotionally from it because women are 'supposed to be hairless.' Sometimes I hate my gender because of the stupid mold we're expected to fit into.
As I got further into my teenage years, I discovered a Sally Hansen facial hair remover cream that I used until just recently. Before I went on birth control - which I'll get to in a bit - I had to use this cream every two or so days, and, because the areas with facial hair also had acne, I almost always experienced burning, bleeding, and scarring of my skin as the product irritated the crap out of the acne. Rarely was there a day where I had no hair and no peeling scabs on my chin. I was emotional about it all the time, as it impacted my ability to be happy.
By the age of 17, my mom and I finally decided to go to a doctor about it. We discovered that the cause of my excess hair and acne was most likely due to the fact that my hormones were imbalanced, with my testosterone being higher than normal. The endocrinologist that I went to see told me that I would have to go on the birth control Yasmin, and that it would hopefully help. She didn't tell me anything else, and I was beyond frustrated. I did not want to go on the pill. I remember crying coming out of the doctor's office because I was scared of taking the pill and had no desire to take a medication I wasn't in favor of everyday for who knows how many months or years.
Based off a friend's recommendation, we decided to try the homeopathic route, which I did for a year. I remember how excited I was at the beginning, when I felt optimistic that I'd found something that would help - something that wasn't the pill. I remember the first time I went to get my face waxed right before my 18th birthday party, and how good it felt to have no hair on my face - at least until an allergic reaction to the wax kicked in and my face broke into hives. It itched so badly that I couldn't even sleep that night. I was back to my hair removal cream after that. My homeopathic doctor put me through yeast diets, gluten-free diets, raw diets, organic diets - and while I did become healthier (I ate complete [overly processed] garbage before that) and my acne improved somewhat, the hair didn't slow down or thin out even slightly. My mom wasted so much money because it wasn't covered by the insurance, and I became fed up with it. A few months after I turned 19, I went to see another endocrinologist and was told I had polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, which is essentially a junk term for "your hormones are screwed up without rhyme or reason." I was put on the birth control Yaz. That was the birth control I was on until this past August, when my insurance stopped covering it completely. It was the turning point that led me to where I am now.
I'm going to stop this here because, really, it gets to the heart of my problem, and answers that big question that some people may wonder about someday when reading this blog: why I stopped wearing makeup. I will post additional parts for "On Hormones" to break down my experience with Yaz, its generic counterpart Gianvi, my experience getting off the pill (which ~sneak preview~ has been looking bad, hence why I needed to start writing about this now), and my experience with laser hair removal.
Before I go, though, I want anyone who is reading this and suffering the same problem to know:
1) You are NOT alone.
2) Hirsutism and PCOS ARE common and, in my opinion, common enough to be considered another health norm.
I know it's hard, but we can't let something we have no control over dominate or define us. Be stronger than that. I'm sharing my experience on my public blog because I know that reading other peoples' experiences on forums and the like have helped me so much by simply showing me that I'm not the only girl going through this nonsense. Our biggest roadblock is overcoming what has been instilled in us as 'normal' and 'attractive' for our gender, and we need to get past that. To those who are past it already: I admire you wholeheartedly, because although I'm a good 75% towards getting to where you are, I still struggle with self-esteem issues that were born from this problem. To those who are at rock-bottom like I was: please hang in there and realize that once you can accept this problem as what it is and not who you are, you'll see how insignificant it really is (and ought to be).
Please feel free to share your experiences or thoughts on this below. I know I'm not the first person to share information like this, obviously, but I want to maybe help someone feel better who was as hurt as I was and, sometimes, still can be.
Thank you for stopping by, and stay tuned for more on this topic. ('<>')>