A few years ago, friends would characterise me with four elements of my appearance, winged eyeliner, a new hairstyle every day, scarfs and a love of vintage style clothing. This spoke for my personality more than my sense of style. I would wear a full face of makeup everyday, I would use anything up to 15 different beauty products every single day. It wouldn’t matter if I was going out for a meal or just walking to the shop I would spend nearly half an hour daily creating my mask of war paint. No one quite understood why I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house without being fully made up. My mother was the most perplexed by this – as someone who is naturally beautiful and happy in her own skin, she never wore makeup. She tried her best to encourage me to have the confidence to be seen sans heavy-duty foundation, but I just couldn’t manage it.
It was probably a confidence thing, another way to hide myself from the world, but it was also my way of being me. Just as people decorate their bodies with tattoos as a way of showing what they feel like on the inside, outside. My signature winged eyeliner showed a quirky side of me that was also well thought out and put-together.
I would also wear a scarf daily, in rain or shine. My neck was permanently adorned with beautiful floaty fabric, always bunched up to cover the bottom of my face. To me it was like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. I could hide and feel powerful at the same time. I didn’t draw attention to myself with it, it was a barrier to the world that said this person does not want to speak. But all it really said was this person is painfully shy.
It was the last year of 6th form when I stopped wearing my makeup, around Easter time. It was after I started to take my antidepressants. I had been spiralling downhill for a while now. Everything I did was plagued by anxiety and depression. But it was after started the medications I stopped caring. I completely gave up. Gone was the makeup that helped me go to war and gave me the confidence to do anything. I didn’t have a desire to look beautiful anymore.
Like many people I had a rough time getting my body used to the medication. It was very true what the doctors said about it getting worse before better. I’m so glad I persevered now, I’m in a better and more stable place now, moreso than I’ve ever been. I’m even starting to put effort into my appearance again. I spent at least two hours yesterday with my best friend putting on makeup, doing our hair and getting ready for a girls night out. Which is also something I never could have done two years ago.
So to anyone who is struggling, get help, it does get better. You can do it, and so can I. We’ve got this.
Photo – Zoe Brooks and myself ready for our night out.