January 28, 2011

Nearly Outed

I hate to follow on the heels of that last post with a downer, but this blog is a reflection of life, and life has its ups and downs.

Last weekend I attended a small party, friends and acquaintances of all ages gathering to enjoy some martinis. I thought there was something a little strange about one of my particular friends, a married woman who is older than me, who when I met her was so bright and bubbly and down to earth that I took an instant liking to her. I'm aware she has some challenges with self esteem and low moods, but even so, she surprised me that night.

Within the space of that first martini, she started comparing her clothes to everyone else's, and her hair, and even declared she had done her make-up wrong after looking at some of us. She kept putting her hands on our waists and measuring us, then measuring herself and talking about the 30 pounds she needed to lose for her husband to be happy. All of us insisted she was perfect the way she was, but as more martinis were mixed, the more honest her tongue became, and she revealed a side of herself I had never really seen in person.

She's been making herself over for a while now. Her hair color has changed, and the way she dresses. She's already slimmed herself down noticeably, and that's even with health problems working against her, and having two children and other responsibilities to care for. She has this quirk about not showing her arms in public when she's with her husband because, she tells us, he says they're too jiggly. And the fact that she feels she needs to change is just nuts. Simply the fact that I feel comfortable around her shows that she is one of the most friendly and giving people I know.

As the evening wore on, we were sitting on a couch together in an empty room, and again she began comparing her waist to mine. It was so tempting to lift up my shirt and say, "Don't be envious of my body." But I couldn't be sure no one was going to walk in. And I couldn't be sure it was the right time. Her mind was in a dark place, aided by cocktails. She might not even remember.

Besides, would it have helped to show her that I constantly struggle with something too? Because even if I struggle, I'm still young, skinny, single, and don't have a chemical makeup that leaves me especially vulnerable to sad moods. I don't know if it's fair to compare. I'm sure it's only a fantasy to think that flashing my treasure trail will solve problems, or transform minds, or even make a point. But all the same, the urge to reveal the secret under my clothes had never been stronger than at that moment.

After that night, it's left me thinking about self esteem and how much I need to learn about it. I feel like it's my responsibility to do my part for the people I personally know and can physically touch, because I'm sensitive to body image myself. If I could affect it for the better, just in the people around me, regardless of what they think is wrong with them...

If only.

January 18, 2011

Problem? What Problem?

I'm willing to agree that being so consumed with hair removal techniques and ways to hide my hirsutism can be distracting from a more important thing. That thing is self acceptance. Self respect. Self like.

That's a thing that's hard enough for any person to develop, never mind a girl or woman who, through no fault of their own, grows a socially unacceptable amount of hair. When we are inundated by images of smooth and flawless "beauty," when people in general don't understand and accept the hair, how can we?

I don't know. I'm still learning as I go. I'm getting better. Six years ago when I moved in with my new step-family, I bleached or shaved every day. I hid my supplies in my room and took them with me to the bathroom every morning, then methodically put them back out of sight when I was done. I couldn't bear the thought of anyone getting the smallest inkling towards my secret. Now, my various shaving tools are all under the sink and I routinely have one day of the week where I don't shave at all at home, and go about in my stubbly glory. I still try to stay out of bright light and don't get to0 close to people, but I'm not as afraid as I used to be. Let them see and wonder. I'm still me.

I think maybe when we go around behaving as if we don't have a problem, most people won't even notice--or once dazzled by our true and radiant selves they'll forget the shadow, the stubble, the razor burn, the flash of a treasure trail. And anyway, really, do we have a problem? A problem is literally defined as: "any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty, or difficulty" by Dictionary.com. If we remove the doubt and uncertainty within ourselves, will hirsutism really be a problem?

People come in all shapes and sizes. Most are not society's "ideal." I have met my share of people with disfiguring illnesses or scars--things that can't be disguised. They go about their business because they simply have no choice, and when their lives intersect with mine, even for a brief moment as I service them at my job, I see what they probably wish I couldn't see. But as I talk to them throughout the course of a transaction, their personality comes through. Cheesy, I know, but it's true. They may or may not be wondering if I'm looking, but when they're not worried and are just having good old gab with me, you can bet I'm not thinking about what I see.

Act like it's not a problem, and others probably won't see it as a problem. Act like that long enough and perhaps we'll actually end up feeling like it's not a problem. And then, when confronted by the mockery or rejection of a shallow, short-sighted bigot who is really not worth knowing, will their ignorance really bother us?

But how to get that point where we don't give a damn what others think, because we're content with ourselves? That's the challenge. Some of it comes with time, I've found. Even though I've been cowering in fear and protecting my secret, plucking and bleaching and trimming and shaving for years, I'm slowly hating that reflection less and less. I think it helps that once a week I address the Internet as a pointedly hairy woman and speak as frankly as I can about it.

Maybe for now, hiding the hair and trying medications to make life a little easier is what I need to do so that I have the confidence to go out into the world and gain as many experiences as I can. It's up to me. No one else's love or respect is truly going to make me like myself. It has to come from within. And the more I know and trust myself and feel proud of my accomplishments, the more content I will be--not as a bearded lady, but simply as me.

January 11, 2011

This Week, a Smile

Hello, lovelies! I'm feeling much better this week, how about you?

My pharmacy had a shipment of Spironolactone so I'm back to taking that--starting with one pill a day and working up to two. And I'll be starting my second month on Alesse tomorrow. Here's hoping for a better round this time.

I'm working on some research right now, which will hopefully pay off in a later blog post, so I just want to simply leave some positive energy here this week for anyone who drops by. I don't usually listen to the radio so I have no grip on what the current music trends are, so this song was a surprise to me and I quite liked it.

Hey, even if I don't feeling like being my glorious furry self, it's nice to think someone someday might be okay with it. ;)

January 7, 2011

One Month on Alesse

Another week is almost over and I have make my excuses again. After two years of fairly regular posting, this is kind of a scary indication of how the pill is messing with my motivation.

I do finally feel better as far as that mysterious "cold" is concerned. But on the fourth last pill of the pack, I started to notice a new reaction. The itchiness on the backs of my thighs that I mistook for razor burn was spreading down my calves and to the insides of my wrists. It wasn't a rash per se, but if I scratched the itchy areas, raised white welts appeared and the itching got worse--which kind of reminded me of being stung by nettles. But it's winter and there are no such plants around. I showered over and over, washed my bedclothes, towels, made sure I was well moisturized with gentle lotions... everything I could think of that might be giving me a reaction. Still the itching spread.

But other than that, and experiencing such intense mood swings that it was like going through puberty all over again, I felt totally fine so I waited to see if it would go away. By the last pill of the pack, I was covered with little scratches and scabs from all my scratching, from neck to ankles, and I called the pharmacist to ask if I should bother refilling my prescription. He didn't sound convinced that it was not an allergic reaction to something I ate, since the hormones present in the pill are also already present in everyone's body. He said it could possibly be a reaction to one of the inactive filler ingredients of the pill, or a very rare side effect, but if it wasn't getting worse to stay on it for another month. Or, if I couldn't live with the itching, call my endo and ask to have the prescription changed.

So with the constant desire to whip off my shirt and rub my upper body against a brick wall, I went to work, not really knowing what else to do. The demands of the job have kept me distracted, mostly, so when I come home I just try to take a shower, cover myself in aloe vera, and go to sleep before I scratch anymore. Sometimes at night I would wake to the feel of my own hands scratching at my skin, aggravating the itch so that I'd be up for another hour trying to fight the desire to keep going. I haven't slept too well this last week.

But as you may know with the pill (I didn't, never having been on any oral contraceptive before) after three weeks of taking it, you have one week where you either take nothing, or take a placebo to help you keep track of when to start the next pack. This allows your body to have a period, which is supposed to be lighter and more comfortable for most women. But sometimes it takes the body a couple of months to adjust to the artificial rhythm. Case in point, I've been spotting all last week complete with cramps before starting my week of no pills. Mind you, I was used to that on the Spiro.

The good news, though, is that 24 hours after my last hormone-filled pill, my skin felt immensely better. The pharmacist's comment about fillers in the pill stuck in my mind, so instead of downing the placebo I've been dropping it in the toilet. I've still got a few itchy places, but it's not that all-consuming desire to roll around on a sandpaper carpet that it used to be. Everyone could tell something was different about me from the first morning I woke up without the pill. My relief was that obvious.

So I'm a little nervous about starting this next pack. Will my body adjust, or will it be an utter spaz? I have a holiday next month, I don't want to be a great big barnacle of misery of my trip. The pharmacy is getting in some Spiro, at last, so I'll be able to start that again and see what they're like combined.

I just want to add here that all women react to different brands of birth control pills in different ways. The more I moan about my woes, the more my friends and acquaintances come forward to say, "That happened to me on such-and-such pill." It sounds like a lot of them have had to try one or two different pills before they found one that worked for them. So I certainly don't want to give up just yet.