Keeping up appearances

As much as I have fought it, I have let myself go.

It’s difficult for me to take care of myself during times of duress. I find that I am unable to pay attention to housekeeping, diet, exercise, and sometimes even basic grooming.

This became a serious problem during my month without electricity. I bathed as little as possible due to the arctic temperatures of my bathwater. I was able to do laundry at a friend’s house once a week or so, so my laundry situation was not too bad. It did, however, take me a week to begin cleaning out my refrigerator, and by then the stench of rotting food had taken over my kitchen.

My current project (aside from finding gainful employment) is to make my living space work for me. I deserve to have a clean, comfortable home, even if sometimes I feel like I don’t.

I have also been plagued once again with myxedema, a complication of severe hypothyroidism. According to Taber’s Medical Dictionary Edition 18, myxedema is presented in the form of decreased metabolic rate, anemia, myxedematous facies (aka “moon face”), large tongue, slow speech, puffiness of hands and face, loss and dryness of hair, mental apathy, drowsiness, and sensitivity to cold. It’s more of a nuisance than a worry. I’m self-conscious about my face and hands and appearance in general. Unfortunately, I have dealt with this situation on-and-off (more on than off) for the past 20 years –since I was only 10 years old. Aside from the large tongue and slow speech (I’m often told that I speak rather quickly), I am the myxedema poster girl. My hands have been swollen for years, my weight is in constant flux. I have long been self-conscious about the chronic puffiness of my eyes. I have had lines under my eyes since I was in my teens –not from wrinkles, but from creases formed under the swelling.

I was at my very sickest in 2002. I was very sluggish in my movements and I could not stop gaining weight. I was pale. My face got swollen and was shaped like an eggplant. It hurt (and continues to hurt) to look at myself in photographs because I felt like a monster. I was unable to think straight, so I could not read books and I couldn’t write. One day, when I was walking through a parking lot outside of a community college, several boys passed me in a car and yelled “Move it, old lady!” I was only 23 years old, but I remember thinking at that time that I must have looked so old the way I was sluggishly ambling about. I certainly felt old. I felt older then than I do even now. After years of going from unhelpful doctor to unhelpful doctor, I found a good endocrinologist through After about a year of treatment, I felt like a human again. My skin regained its color, my hair looked close to normal, and my face no longer resembled an eggplant.

After I lost a lot of weight and was no longer swollen and puffy, a friend of mine (a stereotypical New Yorker) told me “You look so much better. Last year, you looked like shit.” I wasn’t offended because I knew it was true. I really did look like shit. And after several years of my medication simply not working, I look like shit again.

La la la la, sweeping, sweeping. I have allowed the shittiness of my appearance and my general discontent spew out into my living room. And my bathroom. And my kitchen. And, to a lesser extent, my bedroom. Over the coming weeks, I will be taking baby steps to make my home somewhere I actually want to relax.

Adding to my appearance-related issues with hypothyroidism, I am also dissatisfied with my current wardrobe. I have a closet full of clothing, and only about 25% consists of articles of clothing I can get into. Of that 25%, most of that is worn out or frumpy-looking due to a bad fit. I have one suit to wear to job interviews, which is fortunate, but other than that I don’t really have anything very nice or professional. I have another suit that I got on sale at Fashion Bug ($40…score!), but I won’t be wearing it again until I’m able to reduce my puffiness, get some exercise, get food stamps so I can eat properly, and then go down a size. I wish I could afford a gym membership, but I do have lots of home fitness videos that I will hopefully get back to once my immediate projects are in order.

I have made virtually no progress with job-hunting this week. I had my phone interview on Monday, but I did not get the position. I ran out of cash shortly after my emergency visit to the veterinarian, but I consider it well worth it because my rat appears almost totally healthy now. At least I have cute, fuzzy snugglebuddies companions to play with between floor-scrubbing and trips to the Dumpster.

"Vitamins" is code for cocaine and bourbon.

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Filed under Depression, health, Home Life, Materialism

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