Learning to Listen to My Body

Part of any healthy lifestyle is having a good connection to and understanding of your own body. Every person is unique and their bodies respond to outside stimulus differently. For example, Mike could drink a Mountain Dew an hour before bedtime and simply turn out the light and go to sleep. I on the other hand might have a single cup of coffee at 8 am and you could still peel me off the ceiling 12 hours later. Caffeinated drinks make me feel like a squirrel hopped up on cocaine so I tend to avoid them. My body just doesn’t metabolize it well.

Unfortunately the same goes for alcohol too. Mike and I both know that, unless he wants to carry me downstairs to our basement apartment and put me into bed like a petulant toddler, I can only have one drink and then I am done. There are perks to being a lightweight. First, it makes me a really cheap date. Second, my severe reactions naturally help me avoid consuming things I probably shouldn’t on a regular basis anyway.

Being sensitive also has its drawbacks. Among many things, my skin is very easily irritated. I have to be very careful what products come into contact with my skin such as lotions, laundry soap, and body wash. Once I had rashes in my armpits off and on for almost 6 months because they stopped making the soft solid deodorant I normally used and I was forced to switch to a stick. Finally, after scratching myself raw, I tried a hypoallergenic liquid formula and that seems to be working out fine. I also can’t wear the beautiful necklace Mike gave me our first Christmas together because metal jewelry around my neck makes my flesh feel like it’s going to melt directly off my body.  No me gusta.

Usually these skin reactions range from mild rashes and itchiness to the occasional acne breakout. Sometimes, as I discovered early this week, it can be much, much worse.

As I have mentioned before I am getting married in October (yay!) and I have been trying to nail down the look I want for my makeup. I am going for sort of a 1950s vintage vibe so I have been searching for a good lipstick to complete the image. I’ve never been much of a lipstick wearer despite being envious of women who make wearing lip color look so easy. I have an acquaintance who, whenever I see her, always has flawless bright red lipstick. I seriously get this weird flattery aggression where on one hand I want to be like “Oh my god you look gorgeous!” and on the other hand I want to punch her in her perfect lipstick face for being such a goddamn makeup genius. When I try to wear lipstick I feel like a clown with it smeared halfway up my face and across 90% of my teeth, but I digress.

This weekend in search of my perfect lipstick I found myself at BareMinerals which is a store I absolutely adore. They make super high quality products and, for someone with skin allergies, I have always been able to wear their makeup with no problem at all. During this particular trip the lady helping me chose a color so perfect and natural on me that I looked in the mirror and I, to steal a line from Tyra Banks, felt fierce. This was it; I had found my lipstick holy grail.

I proceeded to wear my new amazing lip color to movie night with Mike and another friend of ours, and was still basking the glow of satisfaction that I wore lipstick and didn’t look like a twat when I went to bed that night.

 

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Aw, I looked so pretty…

The next morning disaster struck. I woke to the familiar feeling of an allergic reaction. The edges of my lips were raw and I had the same weird experience of tingling and itchiness that you get when you are coming down off Novocain after getting dental work done.

Now a rational human being would have simply said “shit,” and admitted defeat. But on this particular morning I was not rational. It was Mother’s Day, I had just discovered my lipstick unicorn, and I wanted to be the hot mom at my kid’s flag football game (this is the epitome of first world problems I know, I am judging myself a little bit too, it’s ok). So instead, in a big “SCREW YOU!” to my body, I decided to wear it again that same day. Despite a little irritation it seemed to go okay. At the end of the day I felt like I had come out victorious against my rebelling lips. I went with beauty and beauty won!

Except it didn’t.

Have you ever seen pictures of teenage girls who sucked their lips into a pop bottle to try and achieve fuller lips? It’s a process known as the Kylie Jenner Challenge. If you haven’t you should look it up, apparently it was a thing last year. When I woke up the next morning I looked much like these teenage girls. My lips looked like they had gotten really drunk and gone to an illegal botox party (also a thing). I kid you not, dogs who have been stung in the face by bees look better than I did.

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One example of the Kylie Jenner Challenge. Yeah, that has to hurt.

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My poor swollen lips.

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This dog still looks better than me.

Fast forward to the present, it is now day four of my allergic reaction and my lips are still not back to normal. They have dried and cracked beyond a point that even the best chapstick can’t repair. Another day and I might have to break down and go to the doctor because all the Benadryl in the world doesn’t seem to be making it go away. All because my vanity a couple of days of “looking pretty” was more important than listening to the message my body was so desperately trying to tell me which was “Get this shit off my face!” I was so fucking stupid for not listening.

The moral of this story is when your body starts talking you better pay attention or you too could make choices that will make things a whole lot worse in the long run. If you’re lactose intolerant, stay away from the cheese party platter. If you already have the spins, drinking that 5th or 6th, or 10th glass of wine is probably not in your best interest. And if your otherwise-normal-looking lips swell to the size of Lisa Rinna’s, for the love of God, put down the lipstick.

Your body will thank you for it.

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