Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Ageing and Appearances

Hello again my lovely loves,

It’s been a little while since I posted, but recently it’s been really hard to find motivation. I’ve been keeping my head down and trying to get through everything that’s been thrown at us; as a species, as Spoonies, and in my little family.

It’s been A Time.

But today I wanted to talk about something that’s been bothering me for a while, that I always thought people might find a bit silly or vain or ungrateful. But I think the pandemic has strangely put people in a place where they’re much more likely to understand.
And that’s my complicated feelings about ageing.

I never really thought I’d be someone who cared about it, or had time to think about it, but as I’ve found myself in circumstances that I never foresaw, I’ve been thinking in ways I wasn’t expecting.

There’s a large part of me that is grateful I’m here to be ageing. A lot of people never have that privilege, and my experiences with illness have only made that more clear to me.
But there still exists a part of me that hates it. And it’s not necessarily because of vanity or because I think my worth is based on my youth or appearance (although that’s a fun mindset to try and fight after years of societal conditioning), but for the simple reason I haven’t been living in the way I thought I would.

I hate seeing fine lines appearing, and grey hairs crop up, for the simple reason that I feel like I haven’t had the chance to earn them.
There’s a whole chunk of my twenties and thirties that I’ve mostly been absent from. I have the souvenirs but none of the memories that should go with them. I didn’t earn these creases living my life, I got them waiting to be well enough to have one.

Yes, things have improved slightly; I’m able to do a tiny bit more than I was two years ago, a year ago, six months ago. But they’re so tiny in the grand scheme of things that the difference is negligible from the outside.

And as proud as I am of myself for dealing with all of this so well, that’s still all time that I feel I’ve missed out on, and the frown lines just make it more obvious to me that I’ve had a lot to frown about.

It doesn’t help that I’ve always felt quite awkward in my own skin, but before I got sick I had just started feeling like I was coming into my own. 
I know a lot of people struggle with their appearance and body image, no matter how others perceive them, but I was getting there, you know? I was finally feeling comfortable with what I saw in the mirror. And then along came the Big Bad Tired so I couldn’t even enjoy it.

Being sick has also meant care in my appearance has taken a hit by necessity. 
I can’t shower everyday (or at all), I have to plan my wardrobe around what’s comfortable to nap in instead of what makes me feel good, I can’t style my hair how I want to (or basically at all), I can’t sit down everyday and take that fifteen calming minutes to do my makeup. I do makeup a few times a year now, and I miss it more than I ever thought I could.
It might seem bizarre to some people that I’m so bothered by it, but to me it was an essential part of self care that made me feel confident and put together and ready to face the world. 

I want so much to have that confidence back, and seeing the signs of time passing makes me frightened that I won’t. Or by the time I do I’ll be too old to go out and fully enjoy it.

This illness has shown me that however negative I felt about myself or my appearance before I got sick, I was wrong.
shone because I was happy and healthy. Because I was full of life. And when you have something that makes you feel dimmed by comparison, it's a strange grief. Anything that compounds that is more painful that it would otherwise be.

Now everyone’s been in and out of lockdown for nearly a year, dealing with things that make them just ever so slightly more aware of their own mortality, and there’s this hole of wibbly-wobbly-timey-wime where people missed out on so much.
Even then other people have been able to keep living in small ways; working, creating, and honestly I think more of my friends have had kids in the last year than the previous three combined. And I kind of love that, even though it stings on my own account. 
People are nothing if not resilient and, Christ, I love to see it.

But, despite being able to do more than us Spoonies, I’ve seen everyone struggle with the restrictions and it’s so, so familiar to me, that I thought maybe people would understand my feelings on this now.

Time is linear, and we all have to deal with it’s passing. But watching signs of that appear when you have no choice but to do anything but watch is horrifying. Terrifying. Heartbreaking.

And I just needed to say that.



  1. Ooh, I feel you on the ageing thing. I'm only 26 though. A bigger source of anxiety for me is my parents ageing: what will happen to me when they're gone? How do you deal with that sort of anxiety?

  2. Hannah - I completely get you. Even if it weren't for the pandemic, spoonies would get you. I have aged much faster in the last year I reckon - less sleep because of the stress of not being touched and not getting my social needs met. I have new bags under my eyes. I think about dying my hair to erase the greys but that's not something I have the energy for myself.

    I have felt dimmed for years. People would often comment on how I shined a light - and then commented on how it seemed to go out when I got sick.

    If/ hopefully when you and I both get better, we could form a club for people that have got better and want to catch up on living. We could have parties where we wear all the make up and glitter, and wear clothes that we would have worn while this time was going by, with no judgement. A making up for lost time club. Making silly decisions because we won't have to pay for them later. How about it? I still need a big 30th birthday bash, one day when I'm better I'm going to get started with that. And I want holidays too.

    It's been years but we can find a way out of this. I still have a light in me. It's dimmed but it's not gone out.


  3. I tried to comment when I got the email notification but I think a technical error meant it didn't post... I'm trying again now because I really want you to know I hear you and I'm experiencing parallel things.

    I have new frown lines between my eyebrows. The same ones my mum has which is not to my liking, but that's a different story! I keep trying to remember to stop frowning and smile, because I'd much rather have smile lines than frown lines. I'd like to own my wrinkles as a feminist act, but I'm not living the life for having the wrinkles I'd ideally want.

    I'm 31 and I've spent most of the last 4 years hidden from the world, when I used to REALLY be out there before I got sick. I was known for connecting people together because I had a wide network. I can't keep most of my connections alive - a lot of my most active connections are through online chronic illness communities. (Which I'm hugely grateful for.) I went out having new experiences almost every day. The pandemic makes this harder than it was to begin with, with being mostly housebound.

    Anyway, if/hopefully when both you and I recover, how about we set up a Making Up For Lost Time club, involving glitter and make up and fun outfits and parties and making mistakes because we aren't going to face repercussions for making them?