Opening Up

I’ve spent my whole life hiding parts of myself and censoring parts of my personality.

These days, I’m finally getting to the point where I’m able to start managing things properly. However, my twenties have been filled with steps and missteps towards figuring out what’s ‘wrong’ with me, and it’s been a hard, frustrating, painful, embarrassing and exhausting process. A few years ago, for example, I missed one of my best friend’s 21st because I had a migraine that almost caused me to crash my car, to not be able to sleep or sit up or see properly and seriously consider bashing myself in the head with a baseball bat so that I could pass out and get some relief. It was actually caused by a sensitivity to sulphites in one cider I had drunk the night before, coupled with a twisted cervical vertebra in my neck. But everyone thought I was just hungover, and got really, really pissed at me. I was pissed at myself, too, and so embarrassed. I felt like the worst person in the world, that it was my fault that these things seemed to keep happening at the absolute worst times. It wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last. This is just one example of a hundred different things I’m realising have had a common underlying cause the whole time.

Now when I drink – if I drink – I take anti-histamines and probiotics just in case, because I don’t know what will set a reaction off, and I’ve tentatively fixed my neck after a year of regular specialist treatment. But that’s taken several years to begin figuring out, and I don’t think I’ve been able to repair the damage in reputation or relationships in the meantime. I’m still known as being unreliable, flaky, weird and a hypochondriac.

Which brings me to the point of this post: I’m done hiding. I’m over being embarrassed of times where I have a reaction to something, or have to be extra careful with my energy, or have to wear a brace or strap my joints, only to be fine and brush it off the next time I see someone. It may not be the worst thing about being sick, but the social impact becomes just as debilitating, because there is just no way to tell what will happen day to day, and it’s difficult for even those closest to me to understand. I’ve touched on how my Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome affects social stuff previously, but this is a clearer explanation.

Usually I’d forgo the medical aid or treatment I need, or close off an entire week to be able to go to a social outing or function so that I can appear ‘perfect’ or even just normal. When I have a bad day or slew of days, I’ll somehow be embarrassed?? Like; ‘Oh oops, hahah! Not sure what that was about, but let’s get on with it shall we? Please ignore that!’. I’m learning the hard way that that’s just not how it’s going to work, and I can’t spend half of my life hiding and pretending I wasn’t sick or in bad shape sometimes, that I’m slow to react or quiet because my energy has literally run out. Although I’d like to always be cheerful and chirpy, sometimes I’m just exhausted. I’m so exhausted I can’t even muster up the brain power to realise I might be less than enthusiastic about something, or get upset about something trivial because I’m still fighting needing to rest instead of what I think I should be able to do.

It’s not some lame, cliché sob story, though. When I have a ‘good’ day, I’m great! I feel like I can take on the entire world, meal prep for a month, clean the whole house, outrun my naughty dog, swim 100 laps, outdrink all my friends and stay up dancing all night. But I know now if I do that, I’ll crash really hard, for several days. I’m finding the sweet spot between being a hermit and being the life of every impulsive party I want to throw when I feel like I even have a bit of focus and energy.

So basically, I’m asking for some understanding. Maybe I have some ‘nerdy’ or lame hobbies – it’s because I don’t have the energy most of the time to do anything more strenuous, but I still want to enjoy myself when I have some downtime. Sometimes you’ll see me sitting down at every opportunity, carrying a first aid kit in a chunky backpack, never wearing heels, or have mobility or stability aids, and sometimes you’ll see me hiking a mountain or eating my weight in Korean chicken and beer. It’s just the nature of the illness, but I’m starting to realise it doesn’t mean I have to politely excuse myself from my own life. I mean, that’s just ridiculous. If I never get any better than how I am at this point, I have to learn to be ok with that and be happy regardless.

I’ve tried so many different career choices, study choices, workplaces and lifestyles, and it’s only now that I’m able to figure out what actually works. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m so behind everyone else, but at the same time, I wouldn’t trade all the experience and wisdom of every ‘mistake’ or wrong direction I’ve gone in. I feel like the last year has seen me reborn – I just have all the knowledge of my past lives to help me out going forward.

I’ll be sharing my true self from now on, instead of some curated online image. No longer will I be cutting myself off from my own interests because they only fit with the ‘good’ part or the ‘sick’ part of my personality. It’s pretty terrifying, but social media in particular is going to be my way of sharing my actual personality, that people can take or leave as it suits them, but hopefully have a positive impact to myself and others going through similar issues. That just because it’s different, it’s still a kind of normal, and now it’s my normal.

I love singing, makeup, beauty, skincare, haircare, fashion, fantasy video games, Youtube tutorials and interesting trivia, cute animals, history, mythology, languages and metalinguistics, UFC, travel, technological advances, dreaming of the future, writing lists, architecture, interior design, curating music, designing my future dream house/wedding/travel/lifestyle, scary movies, funny tv shows, Korean dramas, literally all kinds of music (except country), anthropology, the origin of language and words, Buddhism, philosophy, nutrition, cooking, surreal pop art, pre-raphaelite romanticism, drawing, painting, sunsets, dawn, the moon, swimming, the horizon. I believe in mind over matter, and I’m just done caring about what’s ‘good enough’ or not! I have so much love and ideas and creativity to spend and share on so many different things and interests and I want to be able to do that with everyone who comes into my orbit.

I’ve learned enough to be ok with not being perfect and not being some impressive amazing person, and I can finally open myself up to things I actually want to do, instead of pretending to fit in with what I believed to be expected of me.

How I repaired my damaged, fine hair

I’m always itching to try out new things, to the detriment of my own skin and hair sometimes, and dyeing my hair is just one of the things I’ve done since I was about 13. I’ve had: white, black, dark brown, light brown, platinum blonde, ashy blonde, balayage, highlights, dark red, orangey-red, light pink, blonde with neon pink tips

and natural…Which I realised actually turned its own natural dark to light blonde balayage anyway?! The weirdest thing is, I was born with dark red hair, which went platinum blonde, while my eyes went from bright blue to grey…

After not doing anything to my hair for about 2 years, my fingers finally got itchy enough that I decided to dye it chocolatey brown. Big mistake. It went ratty, the ends became so split, I could entertain myself for hours picking at them, frizzy, and just all around craptastic. It doesn’t help that I apparently had a parasite for over 10 years so I couldn’t absorb B vitamins?!?! (That’s another horrifying story O_O)

My lifelong dream has been to have the longest hair possible (when I was little I thought I could grow it all the way down the street and trip my enemies when they stepped on it…erm..yeah), so I’ve always been averse to trimming it. I thought; ‘at least it’ll be long, even if it’s not the best quality, right?’ Or not. I’ve finally realised, though, that I feel best when I feel healthy, and my hair feels and looks best when it’s healthy. I’m so obsessed with my hair now because it’s so silky soft and shiny. (Yes I sound narcissistic but I earned this, okay? A lifetime of embarrassing hair fails means I’m allowed)

So if you’re like me, and you want to be a cotton candy fairy pink unicorn mermaid, then try these tips out – some of them at least you can do while still being able to maintain changing colour. Otherwise, try them out and then start your hair colour journey to paradise:

  1. No more colour! This one was admittedly hard for me to follow, because I just hate looking and feeling unkempt, and if you have light hair, regrowth is super noticeable. If you have darker hair and you can get away with it, great! Skip to the next step. Personally, I had to do a last ditch effort because I gave up, so I bought some dye that was as close to my natural shade as possible, and combed it with a really thin comb from my demarcation line (regrowth) through to the mid-lengths, sometimes the ends. If it sounds risky, it is, and you should definitely get a professional to do this, or at least have some help, lest you end up with a giant blotch 3/4s down, like me. But! No one else seemed to notice that, and it’s blended out better than I even hoped for (and I have a pretty bad track record thanks to my hair-impulse history), so now my hair actually looks like it’s a natural balayage, or just naturally lighter tips because of how gradual the change is. Great success!
  2. No more heat! Ok, when I say no heat, I haven’t completely given up heat tools. You can try to pry my straightener from my arthritic fingers!! But I absolutely never blowdry or curl my hair. The one time I did, I could feel the difference immediately. My hair was like actual straw, as in, it actually made rustling, snapping noises, and it took weeks to regain some semblance of normalcy. Now, I find that I only need to straighten my hair once or twice a week (it’s usually wavy almost to the point of cool curliness, until it all drops, where it just looks gross and messy), which is great if you’re lazy or don’t have the energy. Beforehand, it would go weird and crimpy within a day, if not frizzy, whereas now, I barely even need to quickly run the straightener through.
  3. Trim. Your dang. Hair. This is so hard for me, but in the end, again, I did it myself! I found a suitable youtube tutorial for my hair type (I have a lot of hair, but it’s fine) and just trimmed a little bit to get rid of the split ends. If you don’t do this, the split can travel up the hair shaft and cause more weakness and damage. So basically, you’ll NEVER have long hair!
  4. Use products that work. I try to stay away from products with a lot of silicone (look for dimethicone in the ingredient list) or sulphates and parabens, but as with everything, if it works, it works. I love the Joico K-Pak range, especially the reconstructor and intense hydrator, and use them every time I wash my hair, which is every 2-3 days. They make a huge difference in the quality, and I notice that my hair dries a lot faster. This is important because it shows that it’s not holding onto moisture due to damage. Otherwise, I use coconut oil or a random one-off mask (since I love trying new things to review) once a week if I feel I need it for an hour or so before shampooing, and then wash it out. BTW, it’s not just me – everytime there’s a sale at Priceline, these guys are sold out ASAP. I literally had to go to three different stores to find the last one of each.
  5. Rinse with cold water. This ‘seals’ the cuticle, kind of like how you want your pores to close up after you’ve finished washing your face. It helps reduce frizz, and actually feels really nice and refreshing after the temperature gets up to uncomfortable levels during your shower (hey, I didn’t say it would be a quick process!)
  6. Use a scrunchie. Despite 90s style coming back in, I still feel lame using a scrunchie, but the satin cover ensures your hair doesn’t get snagged and snap like some other hair ties. I find if my hair isn’t 100% dry (usually prime-time for frizz) I can put it up in a high ponytail and it will somehow smooth it out like, 70%, by the time I let my hair down again. It’s good in times of low energy or when you’re in a hurry. I also sleep with one sometimes – if you do this, make sure it’s up out of the way so your hair doesn’t catch on anything while you’re tossing & turning (or not, if you somehow have restful sleep like a crazy person?!)

Anyway, those are my tips! It does take a while, but it’s 1000x better than going around with frizzy, lacklustre hair, and it’s worked for me! Next step: better my B vitamin intake so I can actually get enemy-tripping growth muahahaha!

Oohh PS: don’t get extensions!! I’ve tried micro-beads, clip-ins and tape – they all have one thing in common: they wrecked my hair. The more permanent ones were so disgusting – itchy, gluey, and I wanted to shave my head by the time I got them out, my hair was in that bad condition.The amount of time they took day-to-day also was just exhausting. Never again!!

now

xo Lo