Reflection 1. 07.12.14. Disfigurement, personality, distrust and purpose.

Hello there,
How my mother’s treatment, and the related variables, affected me is complex and not logically consistent. Today, I would like to make a more personal post, in part because my essay deadline is tomorrow and I might not have time for a research post, but also because I think it is prudent.

Generally negative events weaken individuals in such a way, that they become more susceptible to further negativity, and that is why there tends to be subset of the population with a cluster of issues. So, being open about the different forms of negativity that affect me and how they relate to each other seems like a decent way to appeal to and convey information to a particular subset of people. I understand that some people might find some aspects of my blog distasteful but my blog isn’t really for those individuals.

“The conceptual framework clearly demonstrates the whole-life approach and how risk factors derived from adverse childhood experiences can accumulate… In comparison to the general population, adults who were harmed as children are 103 per cent more likely to smoke; 43 per cent more likely to become suicidal; 103 per cent more  likely to become alcohol dependent, and 192 per cent more likely to develop addiction to drugs. And they are also more likely to become teenage parents, develop mental health problems, be obese; develop diabetes, cardiovascular disease etc; use more health and social care resources.”  (the ACE study- adverse childhood experiences)

The above is shocking, and I think it says something about the awareness of political figures who cut or refuse to allow for the investment of social resources in a society, but I digress.

In a sense my blog, and its corresponding purpose, is a reaction to the taboo nature of some of the subject matter and the corresponding isolation I experience and I think other people like me might experience. I have been unable to participate in wider society, often I was kept indoors by my mother, I was bullied for my difference, and for my difference many did not want my participation in their activities.  Because of this, I developed a sense that my different life must mean that I have a different purpose. Now I am not a religious person for I mean that my disposition coupled with my environment and the nature of my subsequent orientation would mean that I would end up moving further, or striving further naturally. By my purpose I mean the sort of desire that preoccupies me and awakens me. So, I tend to think a little grander than individuals who I think have a similar disposition but came from a different environment. I am fixated by a higher calling that is derived from something in myself and I am prepared to sacrifice my youth and the present to find a way to transcend this forest I find myself in.

I am prepared to give up relationships, defy ethical  inclinations I might have, spend prolonged periods in isolation, suffer great pain, channel the majority of my energy in a single direction, and break however many conventions I have to to recover myself. By myself, I mean that I have always had a peculiar sense that I* was not my exterior. This is not mind-body philosophy this is a subjective experience. I felt that my inside was much greater than my outside and that the outside my inner self would have created has been stolen from me. In my head I was just as intelligent, just as creative, just as good, just as impassioned, and just as capable as the average student. If not more in terms of creativity and less in terms of practicality. In other words by virtue of my character there was a mismatch between how my immediate existence was and how people regarded me. In some ways I felt that I had been born in the wrong family, or time, or place.

What’s really interesting about this, is how this feeling of injustice is related to the ‘just world hypothesis’, the idea that people get what they deserve based on their character. So, the ‘just world hypothesis’ serves to both explain my mistreatment by others outside my family and my desire to transcend myself. I derive my determination from what has contributed a great deal to my pain.

In the end  I may never be able to enjoy the freedom and trivialities of youth, I may never be loved by another in a way that correlates with the effort I have put into this life, but at least I think my life might have meaning. I don’t trust most people, I refer to people as humans in my head, for most are not nearly as moral as they think they are. But I am aware enough to know there are people like me out there,we are no better ethically than they are, and that my efforts might be of measurable use to some of them. Even if I don’t trust people at least I might one day be able to say that I have done measurable objective good.

In responding to the extent of the sadness I experienced I think something very psychologically interesting happened.I believe that the pain was so great that it was transformed into other kinds of emotions and experiences. If another person, for I cannot, were to able to experience the extent of the misery I have endured they would in a sense be burned. Any sadness I experience is always followed by a proportionate series of actions. I believe that this capacity has reprogrammed me in a way. I think that in another sort of life assuming my disposition was the same I would have been a cheerful, intuitive, authentic, and spontaneous creature (ENFP: http://www.16personalities.com/enfp-personality). However, my current personality is a fusion of disposition and adaptive programming. So through crying into science textbooks in college, wishing to transcend endlessly, through learning about self-development, through intensive reflection, through barren isolation, through the need to reorganise myself and the endless social rejection, I have become a modified version of my disposition.In another life I would have had the opportunity to reinforce and strengthen what I feel is my true disposition, but in this life I have had to reform myself. I am more organised, able to concentrate longer, reason better, learn quicker, be more determined, more stingy, and more steadfast than I would have been.  Although I have payed for this modification in tears, creativity, and physiological breakage.

Lastly I would like to expand on my mild disfigurement. Essentially the right side of my face is flat because my mother didn’t feed me, which caused malnutrition (probably fat soluble vitamins), causing dental disintegration, rupture and extraction. Your jaw bone exists to anchor your teeth and when they are removed it is reabsorbed. Facial bones are quite interconnected, as you know bone becomes thicker with use, and unfortunately the reverse is also true. Most of the extractions took place in the right side, making it difficult to chew on that side of my face during puberty, so the bone in the right side of my face was absorbed twofold. This means that my eye and nose on the right of face are not as supported as on the left side. My nose even moves around in my face.Because of the extractions on the lower jaw it is not as broad as it should be which detracts from the quality of my face. The teeth about where the extractions took place extruded and moved, which narrowed my dental arch on my right side. The situation is even worse for it. In general I have literally no facial symmetry. Even my eye sizes are different which is an illusion created by a difference in cheekbones. Fortunately I find that once you appear relatively healthy, people simply see you as unattractive, and I don’t even think they do consciously. Rarely does a person look you straight on in such a way as to compare the two sides of your face. You become invisible. I once read that people underestimate facial asymmetry in other people and that this helps maintain social harmony. That said there are great advantages afforded by attractiveness that I may never have.

See for yourself.

This is the normal (left) side of my face in November.
This is the normal (left) side of my face in November.
This is the flat side of my face (right) in November.
This is the flat side of my face (right) in November.
In November.
In November.
In December.
In December. You can see there has actually been some improvement perhaps due to an expansion in the top dental arch due to changes in oral posture.

Strangely, the situation is so negative that I am hopeful that definitive albeit unquantifiable improvement can be attained. I am having a dental implant on my right side in January, I now sleep on my left side, and chew exclusively on my right side. I will also have something called NCR on the right of my face (more about that another time). My right side also has more acne and blushing as if things weren’t bad enough. I am actually quite excited by how bad it is, it’s like the ultimate challenge.

I’ll keep you posted.

My Before and Afters so far…

I may be finding things very difficult with the new facial flushing, but I have nonetheless come far. And I mean far. See for yourself. I would like to establish that before the first few pictures i had been abused by my mum for 17 years, and had been homeless. My standard of living financially in the first few pictures was very poor. So, I hope the series of images demonstrate just how much a negative environment and vice versa can change someone.

This was back in 2013. I had severe acne, mostly nodules and very inflamed pustular acne. I also developed cystic acne too at one point, which would hurt and unfortunately leak. They would wake me up in my sleep.  It was severe.
This was back in 2013. I had severe acne, mostly nodules and very inflamed pustular acne. I also developed cystic acne too at one point, which would hurt and unfortunately leak. They would wake me up in my sleep.
It was severe.
Not only did I have severe acne, but I also had many of the gut issues I have now. In this picture you can see my jaw is very underdeveloped.
Not only did I have severe acne, but I also had many of the gut issues I have now. In this picture you can see my jaw is very underdeveloped.
This summer I was on accutane, I experienced facial flushing, and my face was collapsing from poor oral posture.
This summer I was on accutane, I experienced facial flushing, and my face was collapsing from poor oral posture.
The accutane induced flushing receded some, but my face continued to collapse.
The accutane induced flushing receded some, but my face continued to collapse.
My face in August, by then my face was quite clear. I still had poor oral posture and my face was still collapsing.
My face in August, by then my face was quite clear. I still had poor oral posture and my face was still collapsing.
In October I started working on my oral posture, I improved my diet, started running, created a hair routine and started advancing my skin routine.
In October I started working on my oral posture, I improved my diet, started running, created a hair routine and started advancing my skin routine.
The facial changes were quite gradual with my new routines, here's me in November. Compare it to the picture from August.
The facial changes were quite gradual with my new routines, here’s me in November. Compare it to the picture from August.
IMG_20141206_011010
Me now. Can you see how my side profile has changed in comparison to winter/spring 2013?
IMG_20141206_011211
Me now. There has been a lot of facial lengthening since 2013, but just as degeneration can be rapid so can improvement.
IMG_20141206_014902
Me now. I have mild facial redness. But look how I’ve changed? People who might be referred to as ugly, who might be mocked for it, CAN change rapidly if they know how. We do not know the exact interaction of nurture (including that which we give ourselves), and nature. That is not to say that I am attractive. I am actually disfigured because of child abuse on the right side of my face. The point is more the amount of change that is possible.

Let’s Get Going.

Hello there, my name is Zoe.

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 skinny child alone in a room infested with lice 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. I grew to be smaller than average 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 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 showered in vitriol. 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 a liver infection from a 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. The sickness marked the advent of my severe acne, which I suffered with for over three years.

College was extremely difficult. By this point I was 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. 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. Soon I had no one. I stayed indoors as much as possible and 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 eighteen months. Eventually my mother recovered and my siblings came to live with her in supervised accommodation. She is still under the watchful eye of 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. 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 2015 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.

Unfortunately I experienced a sudden onset of erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, or type one rosacea, likely facilitated by vascular damage caused by accutane. 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.