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Why Makeup Helps Me Feel Better While I Heal From Lyme Disease

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I was tired of waking up and seeing the same pale, sick, face looking back at me. I have to take vitamin D supplements now, because light can be too much for me. I’m also incredibly lonely and bored from being inside all the time healing from chronic Lyme disease. So when I noticed my fellow spoonies looking great on Instagram, I was intrigued. I’d never cared much for makeup. It’s fun sometimes, but I’ve lived without it most of my life. But now things are different.

Now, I have an invisible illness. I spent a year not caring how I look in public — messy, sick, no bra, and so on. I didn’t look at other people because I didn’t want to see their expressions. I told myself I didn’t actually care. But I do care. I do want to look happy, pretty and “normal” and more importantly, I want to feel better.

Many people don’t notice I am sick, even when I think I look extremely ill. That’s the trickiest part of having this invisible illness now. Sometimes I can hide my symptoms if I want to. Sometimes my symptoms hide themselves. Sometimes I can blend into society, or I can be sent reeling by severe symptoms.

I know how sick I am. I know what my limits are every day.

I tried a spoonie makeup tutorial, and it instantly gave life to my face. My face gained expression, dimensions and layers. I used different colors to flatter different areas. Looking into the mirror felt weird. I felt like a “fake” because I’d never looked like this before.

But I felt so happy! I looked amazing, new and fresh.

It’s taken a while to adjust to the fact that putting on makeup makes me feel good. And feeling that I need makeup for the first time is nothing to be embarrassed about.

I feel good in a way that I forgot I could. I’m happy to see the new me, even for a moment. I feel more positive about the future after trying new looks and tutorials. Makeup has given me a new picture for this chapter in my life. It has helped me to form my new identity by outlining my features, highlighting my happiness, and letting me expressing myself artistically with lip color. Just a few brush strokes changes a bad moment to a good one.

Perception is everything. The images we hold in our minds of what health and illness look like can be a facade. You never know what someone is going through. Whether physical or mental, illness and health are separated by fine lines. Wearing makeup for me is not just about beauty, it’s about staying compassionate towards myself and others.

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Originally published: February 10, 2017
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