This beauty product enthusiast found herself in brand new situation, and was stripped of the very things I have always relied on to feel like “myself”. No makeup, no clean clothes, hairdryer, razor, tweezers, perfume, underwear, nail polish,cute clothes,cute shoes, dental floss…you get the idea… So this must be a very sad story, you must be thinking.. but surprisingly it’s not…
Well let’s start at the beginning! If you read my last post, you know I suffer from depression and anxiety. I take meds and go to therapy ( all the most interesting people do, promise) Well things got a little off balance in my complex mind and I was not quite myself, which is a giant understatement, trust. Things got way way out of hand and I ended up in the mental institution!! The stigma of this is not lost on me.
I arrived a very scared girl with only the clothes on my back ( which I had been wearing in the regular hospital for 2 days already) I had no idea what to expect! Was basically strip searched, and moved to a room to await the arrival of clean clothes and the very few allowed hygiene products. In my head, prison movies are shaping my expectations. I did not know what to expect, where to go, what to do, an I was about to meet the people I would share a living space with for an indeterminate length of time!! I am not a person who typically leaves the house without a shower, shaving and makeup on an done!! Now, it’s likely I smell, my no makeup puffy eyes from crying for days are obvious and my desperate need for a shower and toothbrush is not a priority for anyone who matters. ( the staff) My self esteem has always been fragile, and my clothes and makeup are how I put on a confident act! I show the world the version of myself I want them to see, not this version!
Within minutes, a very nice man befriended me! He offered to share his cigarettes with me, since mine would not arrive til much later that night and cigarette breaks are the only times I would get to be outside all day! Prior to this, I had been using an e-cig and not smoking, but when in rome as they say. At my very lowest, most un-pretty, other people in my same situation showed me kindness and support. About 10 hours later, clean clothes, hair products and the like were finally here!! A lady I will refer to as ” Nurse Ratchet” gave me my things. She told me I was not allowed to have my underwear, or the clean shirts delivered for me as they are not the “right” kind. I took a shower, put on my dirty clothes and started to cry in my room. ” Nurse Ratchet” bursts in, gets in my face and tells me crying is not allowed! If I do not stop crying right now, they will move me to another unit with dangerous people ( as I am in the high functioning unit currently #6) She would bring me down to #1 with the “criminally insane” and I would not be leaving anytime soon! Every part of me wanted to cry harder, but I did not. I bit the inside of my mouth til it bleed and joined the others as I was told. Day 1 was hard!
Surprisingly, I made friends very quickly! I stayed in good spirits and made people laugh! Little acts of kindness seem bigger in here. Things like taking someone’s empty meal tray away for them, inviting them to play cards or giving them a cigarette is the best, nicest you are allowed to be. ( no hugging allowed) The girls all shared ponytail holders and outside hair tips! One girl had eyeliner, and did everyone’s makeup like Amy Winehouse! We all had hairy pits and legs and eyebrow grooming is not possible! Hospital beauty tip- putting deodorant on the inside of your pants when you are stuck wearing them commando for more than a day keeps you smelling a little bit better! A little body lotion can help tame frizzy hair,Hand sanitizer from the bathroom removes eye makeup and helps with stinky feet!
Before I arrived there, when stranger’s complimented me, it was always that I was so pretty. Inside, they complimented my intelligence, sense of humor, creativity and ability to give good advice! They prayed for me when I was sad that no one would give me numbers out of my phone to call someone I really wanted to talk to.They did not laugh or call me stupid for my blind faith and hopeless romantic ideals. Instead, they said I was brave for following my heart so completely and being so very all in. Most people are much too afraid to feel so deeply. They prayed I would get my love story after all!
I helped draw out ideas for tatoos they wanted to get, explained how to play 2 truths and a lie and we discussed our worst actions, biggest fears and what we will eat when we get home. We traded grooming tips, and talked about what we might be missing while the outside world went on without us. Would the objects of our affection wait for us? Would the stigma follow us forever and would all of our thoughts and feelings be dismissed from now on because ” so and so” is crazy? What does after this look like?
Once you take away the image you present to the world, the real you, in every sense is out in the open! I never want to go back there, but I have more faith now, in myself, others and that somewhere out there or up there, is someone/something guiding me on my own journey. I am not truly alone. The real, raw, un-groomed, unedited me is pretty likeable. I still love beauty products, but I no longer need them as a crutch!