Opinion

Finding beauty within yourself

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Anxiety is a bit like being on constant high alert where seemingly trivial events or situations feel like a tsunami of fear. Suffering from childhood to early adult life can set the tone for future life periods as Pamela describes. She spoke to me about how her anxiety affects her sense of appearance and self esteem.

“I have been anxiously fretting about pretty much every single aspect of my life since I was ten years old. The University period of my life was just a blur of different friends, men, and definitely more than the recommended serving of vodka drowning in Red Bull. I was happy, or at least I thought I was…”

Meeting the love of your life is meant to be a joyous occasion, except when things move a bit too quickly such as finding out you’re pregnant after 3 months, which gives your anxiety a bit of a kick.. Blessed with a wonderful baby boy along with depression as a freebie.

“The illusion that was the ‘love of my life’ promptly shattered into a million microscopic pieces. I mean, how well can you parent with someone when you were not well suited to begin with?”

In your darkest moments there is always hope, and that hope might come from another person. A person who makes your stomach flip and your mouth dry. Even with an updated Facebook status that reads “married, two kids together and two from previous relationships”, it would be easy for people to assume you are in a better place.

“Sorry to disappoint, but mental illness doesn’t work like that. When got engaged, we also fell pregnant. But hey, life doesn’t give a fuck about your schedule. I hadn’t prepared myself for the craziness of wedding planning, I felt angry that people were more focused on the wedding than the fact that I had just squeezed a baby out and had a rough time of it.“

Mental illness can play havoc with how you look physically and how you feel you look mentally. Little things like having your nails painted can make all the difference, and may seem superficial to somebody who doesn’t have to change 6 times before leaving the house or thinks everybody looks a Victoria’s Secret model but they look in the mirror and see a mess.

“My mental illness made me hate the way I looked. I was ugly, I had a ‘mum’ bod, and my nails and eyebrows were never done (What mum has time for that?). My chipped nails and ungroomed brows were a metaphor for my mental wellbeing. A physical manifestation of how I felt about myself.“

It’s not just the physical self that takes a good bashing, it’s your character. Your personality can change, you may express emotions differently. This can be a harder pill to swallow.

“I always viewed myself as a decent person, a ‘good mate’, sometimes I acted out of character, which killed me. My physical beauty had gone and so too now had my inherent ‘goodness’. “

So all this being said, how do you best cope? Who are your cheerleaders when you are having a shitty day and the contouring is not hiding you as well as it usually does?

“The problem with having a loving husband is that he can see through your bullshit. These days, I have also learned to keep my social circle small to keep my heart happy. “

Of course there are the usual suspects such as the G.P, the psychologist, the pills and the self -help books, but even just booking a massage or treating yourself to your favourite chocolate can make a difference. But for Pamela, she believes her children have helped her learn to control her anxiety.

“Raising children brings out a strength you always had, but, at least in my case, never realised or knew existed. I find my glimmers of beauty in simplicity. When I’m in my home, warm and comfortable. Dancing around the kitchen with my kids. When my husband pulls me into him, and kisses my forehead. Hard work, reflection, counselling, and medicine, was one part of the solution. Though the bigger dose of medicine was and still is, my close friends and my husband. Oh, and of course when my nails are unchipped and my eyebrows are drawn on. “

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