Let’s Get Going.

Hello there, my name is Zoe. Or at least that’s what they call me.

Now it’s all very complicated, so please be patient. I was born just over twenty years ago to a psychopath, or maybe a sociopath. She wasn’t very pleasant and so my life was a little unusual.

The way in which my life was unusual is due to the sort of relationships and behaviours that characterise a sociopath. Needless to say, my mother doesn’t love people.

Me and my siblings were born to make her life easier, to keep her from working, to fund her cigarettes and alcohol, to allow her the sympathies of a mother, and to bind my father to her. There were no ‘I love yous’, no bedtime stories, no hugs, no care, no understanding, or nurturing of any kind. Imagine a child alone in a room infested with lice, with ribs that point, crying to no one. When my dad was away I was fed poorly, rarely spoken to, often insulted, and left to stew in filth and squalor. The other children were rarely merciful. I grew to be small and sickly. Like most neglected children I had a withdrawn and sad personality. I haunted classroom corners, sometimes crying, and weeped under trees.

That is not to say that everything was bad. Eventually I managed to make a small number of friends. Some of them knew about my mother. My teachers had long assumed that my withdrawn demeanor and general inactivity, meant that I was slow. At about eight years old it became apparent that I was in fact deceptively intelligent. I moved from the bottom of the class to the top in a day. A self fulfilling prophecy was created. I was seen as bright but strange.
A small group of amicable children accepted me, with some disagreement. They were the ‘geeks’ of the class. To fit in with them I created an imaginary videogame, complete with script, story, and painstakingly created merchandise.
I began to behave both more academically and creatively. I created dollhouses, stories, shelves, playlists, song lyrics, keyboard music, poems, drawings, and crafts. In order to keep up with my newfound friends I began studying the sciences and accumulated science toys such as chemistry sets. My friends had a structure to their lives. My impetigo infected body craved such a structure. It is at this point that I became very harsh on myself. I became my own disciplinarian. As you might imagine I did surprisingly well in school, for I had nothing else going for me.

Secondary school was essentially a continuation of my newfound identity, with a number of dips in the road. I acquired a larger group of friends known for their boisterous creativity. I became much more extraverted and began to identify as such, albeit self consciously. It is the case that introversion and not extraversion is associated with higher intelligence, in a way that is more applicable to the academic setting. My desire for comprehension was in conflict with my extraverted persona. As per the usual pattern, I was bullied, but I had my friends to support me. It became apparent that my thinking was a little different to that of the other adolescents. I had a comparatively abstract way of thinking, that was not logical.  During secondary school I amplified my unusual identity, exploring BDSM, sexuality, niche psychology, personality theory, and using  my peculiar nature as a defense mechanism. It became apparent that there are different levels to the responses in breaking social mores. I noted that if I was strange enough people would cease to bully me and actively avoid me. After I had a group of friends to support me I did just that. Despite my deliberate breaking of conventions I still very strident and secretly competitive. I acquired the highest GCSE score in the final year.

And what of my mother? She degenerated further. Each morning and on returning from school I was verbally assaulted. Aside from that she would not talk to me. Sometimes she left no food for me. At times she would sort of chase me through the house, shouting at me, and sometimes she would throw things at me. The drinking started, she ate less, and smoked more. I knew then that I was not small and weak because I was from a economically lesser background, but because of her. The emotional consequences reemerged and I became sick. I had been ill often as a child. Likely because I was kept indoors, fed poorly, frequently stressed, lived in squalor, and was unsupervised. One day the illness didn’t go away.

When I was about forteen years old after a long period of dental disintegration caused by malnutrition, five molars and premolars ruptured. Most of the teeth were on the right side of my jaw. While my dad was at work he relied on her to arrange my appointments. She didn’t. Soon, I had an acute dental abscess and I was in abject agony for months. I spent a lot of time sleeping and crying. I was too immature to deal with the problem myself. My immaturity and inability to engage with the world practically was mediated by my isolation from it. I lost all five teeth. Today the bone that would have anchored the missing teeth has been absorbed by my body. The degree of absorption means that my face has less bone structure on the right side, and consequently my face is extremely asymmetrical. I am technically disfigured.

I was in frequent pain during the last two years of secondary school and I started to develop severe acne. During the summer holidays I acquired hepatitis A from a gay pride festival. There were feces all over the cubicle, even in the sink. I was ill for six weeks and suffered with a lingering viral arthritis. During that time my mother left me on the floor with symptoms that are comparable to the flu. She didn’t move me, visit me, allow my siblings to see me or feed me. My dad would check on me before and after finishing work. I was later informed by a doctor that my liver had almost failed. The hepatitis marks the advent of my severe acne, which I suffered with for over three years.

College was extremely difficult. By this point I was disfigured, chronically ill, and suffering with severe acne. Somehow I managed to acquire a boyfriend. He and his family thought little of me, and his apparent feelings for me seemed to be manufactured by his ideals, a mutual emotional connection, and his low standards. I was frequently insulted by other people at college, in the street, and in my boyfriend’s home. I began to disintegrate in all the ways a person can. It was slow. My mother started to abuse my father, first verbally, then indirectly and directly in a physical way. She started drinking more. Eventually he hit her back. She claimed that he had domestically abused her, he spent a night in a cell, and we were homeless. Soon my boyfriend left me.

Most of the time I simply struggled to survive psychologically and situationally. I watched my nails break, my skin become pale and refuse to heal, my hair fall out,  my energy plummet, and my body suffer. It was unbearable. At one point I was suffering from six conditions simultaneously. Soon I had no one. Soon I stayed indoors as much as possible. Soon I lived another life in fantasy. By the end of college I lived with my dad in a tower block opposite a drug dealer and my grades had dropped off. I was no longer a high achiever. I had nothing. Despite this I applied for philosophy at university and was successful in my application. I dreamt of self-renewal and transformation. On some level I was planning my recuperation.

During this time my mother had managed to drink herself into a coma. Her spleen had ruptured, she developed pneumonia, her lung was punctured and infected, and she had four heart attacks. On her medical certificate it said “alcohol abuse”. My siblings were put into emergency foster care. Before my mother fell into the coma, she had put a restraining order on my father linked to our old house. I saw my siblings only a few times over the course of eightteen months. Eventually my mother recovered and my siblings came to live with her in supervised accommodation. She is still under the watchful eye of the social services today.

Throughout the run up to university I participated in a few short courses and organised the logistics of my new life. When I arrived I was still ill. I may have suffered from depression at this point. As weak as I was I struggled to keep up and adapt to the demands of university. Somehow I acquired a new boyfriend who claimed to believe that there was something inside of me, that would allow me to surpass the austerity of my life. Unlike my previous boyfriend, who might be described as an energy vampire, my current boyfriend is extremely supportive. At the end of the academic year I was in a slightly better position and had achieved a 1.1.

Me and my father moved to a new property in August and my siblings visit us every Saturday.  By this point I finished a course of accutane and one problem petered off for a while. Predictably my mother threw my younger sister out as soon as the associated financial benefits became uncertain, and she became difficult to handle. She now lives with us. From August to November I used the my new found confidence and self preservation capabilities to overhaul my diet, hair routine, skin care routine, supplement stack, oral posture and trained to run 5km. I went back to the first year of university, by changing my course to psychology, as to create time and resources for self-renewal. I made a deposit of £1380 for a dental implant which is scheduled for January, and will take about three to six months from start to finish. And acquired a total of ten 30% glycolic acid peels which I may not be able to use because of recent developments.

Unfortunately I experienced a sudden onset of erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, or type one rosacea, likely facilitated by vascular damage caused by accutane. I am currently in the process of researching the condition, acquiring a diagnosis and treatment. Consequently I am focusing on treating the chronic gut issues I have suffered with since the age of fourteen, and my new skin condition.

And here we are, welcome to the present. For the last four days, I have barely left the house, my stomach has been hurting, I have abdominal spasms, I have been anxious, flushing, stressed, my office is a mess, my hair is dirty, I have been sleeping erratically, and I have lost my appetite. I am at a low, and what a perfect place to start a journey it is.

This blog will detail my life as I try to grapple with what has happened to me, and I try to make something of myself despite the odds.

Welcome to A Useful Obsession.

Advertisements

Video Before and Afters

I have been looking through a few of my shorter video recordings on my computer and it occurred to me that I could create a sort of before and after video collection. It is worth noting that these videos have different content, and have been created with different settings and lighting. Nonetheless I think they might say or indicate something.

The skin changes between the first and second clip are obvious but I also think there is some subtle facial difference between the second and third clips. What do you think?

The Grand Supplement Testing Project

I think I have something like twenty bottles of supplements accrued.  I have already tested about five of these, but I intend to systematically try the others. The first thing to mention is that I have mild type 1 (flushing) rosacea and mild IBS-C, and these conditions are what I will be testing the supplements against. I also sometimes get mild to moderate acne, which I will also test the supplements against. I am also growing my hair.

None of the supplements I have tried so far, have improved my IBS in any way or form. But a few have benefited my acne, had other positive effects on my health  and appearance, and I can only think of one thing I have tried which has helped my rosacea.

Here are the supplements that I have tried so far.

orientated

The zinc picolinate, and the spirulina seem to genuinely reduce what little acne I get. This makes sense as zinc deficiency can cause acne, and spirulina reduces lipid peroxidation in the body which is positively correlated with acne. Spirulina also contains zinc, along with a myriad of other minerals.

Gotu kola helps maintain the integrity and function of blood vessels, among other things, and appeared to help some spider veins I have on my legs. Unfortunately it did nothing visible to my rosacea.

The maca seemed to increase my libido for a while, and I think may generally make me feel more energetic.

The flaxseed oil, a common anti-inflammatory remedy for rosacea which might help the skin barrier, did absolutely nothing to me.

I just opened the probiotic bottle, but I don’t expect much from it.

In regards to the only thing, which is sort of like a supplement, that I tried that seemed to help my rosacea, I have literally no idea why it seemed to help. It might be a mere fluke, but drinking diluted apple cider vinegar every morning actually seemed to reduce my flushing. It wasn’t even an expensive variety. It really confused me.

Anyway, there are a substantial number of supplements I have yet to try, and I am going to break down by the order I am going to test them in.

1. Remedies (garlic and l-lysine)

12607346_10208645686368483_2106704862_n

These two supplements are often taken as remedies on rosacea forums, and I am not very confident that either of them will help. I think the anti-inflammatory qualities of the garlic means it could have some use, if it is going to help at all.

I remember that I used to eat garlic cloves for my acne, and that actually helped. Perhaps again because of the anti-inflammatory effects of the garlic, and likely also due to the anti-bacterial effects.

I think people try l-lysine for rosacea because someone marketing it invaded the forums at some point. That is my theory anyway.

2. Potent Anti-inflammatories (curcumin and astaxanthin)

I am actually quite excited to try these two. The bottle of astaxanthin reads “helps to relieve pain and inflammation, supports health, blood flow, and vessel integrity, the most powerful known natural anti-oxidant”.

I think one or both of those might help.

3. Probiotics


These may or may not help my IBS, we shall see.

4. Digestive Enzymes

The last time I tried these I ended up running to the bathroom for some reason. So I am going to work my way through the orange ones over the easter break.

5. Betaine HCL

12626107_10208645686968498_1695825131_n

Rosacea is associated with infection by H Pylori, which reduces stomach acid. You can see the logic in trying it. IBS and GERD also overlap a lot in patients, and my mum has GERD. GERD may actually be caused by low stomach acid according to Chris Kresser.

Low stomach acid can also cause digestive issues in itself.

So I am quite intrigued by the idea of trying this one.

6. Biotin (for growing my hair)

12583955_10208645686608489_161640443_n

This one is kind of a bonus and will probably require long term supplementation when I finally crack the bottles open.

So there you have it. I am going to test, and report back on, all of these supplements. I will likely take the supplements for a month to see what happens.

I’ll keep you posted.

New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Study or write essays everyday, between 1 and 5 hours.
  2. Learn how to  use eyeshadow to create some sort of ethereal or slightly unusual smoky eye, that I can wear most days.
  3. Go on Duolingo everyday, and do at least one lesson in french and dutch.
  4. Use my credit card to a limit, and pay it back on time every month to build my credit score.
  5. Walk or cycle to university and back every time.
  6. Be able to do basic bicycle maintenance and related activities, such as fit a water bottle, fit lights, fit panniers, pump up tires, repair punctures and whatnot.
  7. Express my needs and wants more directly in friendships and relationship.
  8. Continue my volunteering helping the ‘street angels’ keep the night life safer.
  9. Travel independently  by train at least twice to somewhere I haven’t been yet.
  10. Remember to wash my mineral sunscreen off before going to sleep.
  11. Listen to my language podcasts on the way to university, if I am walking.
  12. Go to a swimming pool, get in and learn about swimming.
  13. Do something new, and social, that I am scared of like karaoke.
  14. Improve my oral posture by remember to ‘suck’ with my tongue, to keep my tongue up at the back of palette.

    In some ways I have gone way backwards this year, but that is okay. As long as I LEARN how to get out of this rut and why it happening or perhaps happened. If I can just add something new onto what I have been then this will be enough.

    I tried to make these resolutions tiny but effective, to be things that can actually be accomplished.

    Things I did in 2015 that I am happy about:

1. I dressed better and created a clearer and more consistent style.

2. I got cheap makeup, perfumes and accessories that are actually good and suit me.

3. I got into the habit of dressing to impress more on a daily basis.

4. I grew my hair longer and looked after it.

5. I took on a more cheerful and relaxed demeanor by the end of the year

6. I use more emojis, and this makes me seem friendlier.

7. I was more expressive.

8. I made decent progress on Duolingo, learning dutch.

9. I tried lots of things and made what is likely a new best friend.

10. I helped my little brother try new things and feel better about himself.

11. I found a volunteering position I really like, and that I can progress in.

12. I created a beautiful work space for my university work.

13. I was brave enough to go through and complete my dental implant.

14. I broke my relationship length record, I have now been with my boyfriend for over 2 years.

15. I have pets I was initially scared off, to be fair I have had my ferrets for about half a year now and I have only been bitten twice.

 

The Flawed Beloved

I’ve written before about my experiences that parallel something similar to the story of the ugly duckling. About how, people mocked me on the street, in class, how I attained invisibility for the most part from people who might have otherwise wished me well. If you have been following my blog, you’ll know that these experiences were rooted in the complex consequences of the child neglect and emotional abuse I experienced as a child and adolescent.

A new state of being is a new vantage point for observations. Over the past year I have collected some more experiences to add to my understanding of my past. Fortunately, I don’t feel so flawed anymore, so I feel it does not add so much to my current condition.

I have asked a lot of people over the last year about what sort of appearancial qualities they are looking for in a partner, what the people they fell for looked like and whether there have been any usual qualities in others that they sought.

My little disabled brother’s favorite type of woman is one who is very fit and even muscular. My dad prefers women with extra weight on them, and preferably of the gothic variety. He loved my mother who was not gothic in the slightest and towards the slim side of the spectrum. Unlike his stated preferences my mother had red hair, not dark hair. My crush thinks my blushing, aka my minor rosacea, is cute and reminiscent of sex. My boyfriend originally held stock for a ‘classy woman’, which might be exemplified by an old photograph of a beautiful woman from some time ago. And yet, he loves me despite my fashion sense which is some combination of earthy, mysterious and ethereal according to him. Not only that, but I have a very asymmetrical face which is not exactly beautiful. Maybe cute on a good day. It is plain or worse most days.

I have been with a short strawberry blonde haired and curvy woman. A tall, skinny, ash brown haired man, with acne and of the dorky variety. A semi-short dark haired and dark haired man with puppy fat. And now I am with a tall, mousy brown to ash blonde haired man, with a short beard who probably has mild seborrhoeic dermatitis on his face. It is obvious by now what my point is, I’ve said before that because most people end up with a long term partner irrespective of what they look like, that you will most likely find someone even if you are unattractive. Of course there is a limit below which finding someone becomes difficult. The good news is, unless you become homeless and extremely bedraggled you’ll probably never get to that point. You know you’ve dipped below the line when shop clerks begin making sarcastic comments about your appearance, and people seem to actively move away from you in a crowd.

We have all read the studies about men focusing more on women’s bodies when they want sex, focusing on women’s faces when they want a relationship, that men prefer a certain hip to waist ratio around 0.7 and whatnot. This is true, and people will treat you differently according to how you look, and it will affect your life. But maybe you have noticed the inconsistencies between women preferring more dominant men which may imply some degree of aggression and that apparently they also prefer men who are good with children and dogs. This apparent inconsistencies are likely in part due to women’s monthly hormonal shifts, and yet such studies usually look at averages and general tendencies.

It is likely that people dating people who are less attractive is in part due to the market, and yet even if men value appearance more than anything in surveys the number of variables that fall underneath it is large. My point is, the world is not so simple. That studies looking at single variables are not an exact representation of the reality you are part of. Being more attractive will probably contribute to your happiness, but you have a massive amount of personal power in spite of what you have. The same unhappiness and doubt that can be so powerful as to push you to lock yourself away from the world. That can cripple you. Make you a shadow of your former self. Can be equaled in power by positive emotions and actions. That is part of the root of charisma, and why some people are saved by others and themselves.

There is also a certain power in featuring your flaws and using them. If you can use your  unusual face to make an artistic or aesthetic impression, great. You made what many would have considered a flaw or weakness into something powerful. If you can educate others about the world and give others hope by showcasing your flaws. You are excellent, just the same. If you cannot do such with your flaw, then let the pain and stress caused by your flaw, give you energy so that you might grow in other ways. You are your best tool. Remember that.

Elliot Hulse: Can’t Fix Ugliness Feature It

Rosy Cheeks in Art (a section in my lovely friend Nat’s blog on rosacea 🙂 )

Repeat after me:

Attractiveness is important.

Improving it will make my life better.

But is not everything I have.

It is not the determination I have.

It is not equivalent to the intelligence I can use in pursuing my goals.

It is not the power I have to influence others and myself.

Attractiveness is not me.

I am a whole person and I live in the real world.

If something stands in my way, I can find a way.

No one cares if I broke a few boring social norms to get there.

People will treat me like the person I am.

It doesn’t matter so much how I got there.

What matters is that I became stronger.

In trying to get where I am and where I want to be.