It’s been 21 days since I began my attempt to look a little better in hopes that I’d feel a little better. I wrote about it after the first week or so here.
Other than this past Sunday when I spent the day reading, watching TV and in general vegging out with no kids and no husband in the house, I’ve been dressed in “cute clothes” (even on the days when I was working from home) and “done” my hair each day (scrunched curls, flat iron, big curls, a “purposeful” up-do – basically NO PONYTAILS!) for the past 21 days. I’ve even put on light make-up about half the time.
The purpose was to see if by looking a little better each day I could feel a little better – hoping for a positively reinforcing cycle rather than a negative one.
It still hasn’t made me feel physically better – my hands hurt like crazy as I type this, my fatigue is still often at the forefront, my muscle weakness still rears it’s head during daily personal care and work-related tasks.
I still have the guilt I talked about in my last post that is associated with spending the time and energy to “look better” each day (even though it takes about 20 minutes total) when I tend to tell myself I could’ve used that time and energy to do something else (like laundry or cook dinner). For example, I made soup the other day and it made me feel the immense muscle fatigue in my biceps while stirring the soup during the cooking as I do while curling my hair. The way my mind works is – if it’s the same fatigue to cook soup or curl my hair, wouldn’t it be better to save it for something that helps my family (cooking soup) rather than something that’s just about me (curling my hair).
But I have noticed benefits. It’s nice to get compliments on my hair, shoes (I got a couple really cute new pairs – I can’t wear cute clothes every day with tennis shoes or flip flops!), outfit, or just general appearance. It’s nice to see someone and hear them say something nice about the way I look. It’s nice to just look in the mirror and see a version of me that looks better put-together. It doesn’t change who I am – it’s 20 minutes worth of prep time…it’s not like I’m having plastic surgery or caking on make-up – but it changes the way I feel.
My friend (she also happens to be my hair stylist of about 8 years) mentioned the other day that I was back to acting more like “myself.” She sees me every 5 weeks (sometimes more if my daughter’s appointment lands in between mine) and has read the draft of my book talking all about this journey with autoimmune disease. She’s noticed the change in me over the course of the years and she’s read about what I’m struggling with. And when I was there last week (I think it was on day 14 of this endeavor), she noticed I was back to being chatty (and bobbing my head all around – apparently I move while getting a hair cut more than most children!)
When I was talking to her about the guilt associated with taking the time and energy for myself to look this way instead of family chores around the house, she stopped me and asked me if it was making a difference in how I felt or how I interacted with my family. (Remember – she’s read all about the guilt I have associated with this disease and how it’s impacted my family life – so she knew where I was headed with that discussion). I thought about it and said that yes, I was in a better mood. It does make me feel happier and I’m sure that the mood I’ve been in around my kids and husband has improved.
She said it sounded like a win-win to her, then.
I still feel guilt about not doing more things like I used to in order to help out around the house. I still have the physical pain, fatigue, etc. But I guess if some cute shoes and a few minutes on hair, make-up and putting together an outfit make me feel better enough to have a better attitude with those around me, then I guess it is a win.