My favorite piece of furniture in my home is my bed. It’s a Sleep Number (My personal number is a 40, in case you were wondering) and it is glorious. Its topped with a big, fluffy, down duvet, flannel sheets and a soft and fuzzy blanket. Between my husband and I we share 5, down filled pillows that are so squishy and delightful. If I could live in my bedroom full time, I definitely would. It’s spacious, yet cozy at the same time. I’ve purposely omitted a television from the room specifically so when we go to bed, the only thing we have to concentrate on is sleeping. Or… other stuff that doesn’t require a T.V. 🙂 You see, I love sleeping and napping and there’s nothing I like more than lingering in bed on a weekend morning for hours longer than I really need to. I am NOT a morning person, I never have been and I’ve groomed my bed to be a place I absolutely love to be.
Why do I bring this up? Well, for nearly the last 30 years I have had the same schedule when it came to getting ready, and that included a necessary butt-crack-of-dawn shower before I felt like I could face the world. As mentioned, I do not like being up at the butt-crack-of-dawn.
Butt-crack showers started young. Perpetually oily and acne prone as a student, it was necessary for me to wash my face and hair first thing in the morning in order to feel like I was getting a fresh start to the day. In fact, I was so oily that I brought OXY/Stridex pads to school with me and followed up regularly throughout the day to keep the sebum at bay.
At the end of the day, I’d get off the bus around 2:30 p.m. and head directly into the bathroom to wash my face with some bar soap. Yes, I said BAR SOAP. It was, after a long day of living in my skin, the only thing that I found that cut through a day’s worth of oil. After that, I would usually not re-apply makeup unless I was going somewhere, in order to give my skin some time to relax.
Before bed I’d wash again, follow up with an acne pad and then slather on the benzoyl peroxide cream. I followed this routine for many, many years and you’d think that all of those harsh, drying steps would cause my face would be dry and cracked. Quite the contrary – I woke up every morning feeling like someone snuck in while I slept and covered me in olive oil. My face would be shiny and my hair would feel greasy, and I would unwillingly start the entire butt-crack-of-dawn process over. I hated it. Michigan mornings are cold and I didn’t want to get out of bed! It wasn’t that it was a hassle to keep myself “clean” but rather that I HATED getting up so early in the mornings to get ready for my day.
I had some acne as a teenager, but acne didn’t really become a major problem until I was in mys late 20s and early 30s. I was 34 years old when I finally decided I had enough of greasy, acne spotted skin and I saw a dermatologist. From the get-go he suggested putting me on accutane. I was hesitant because:
1. I was young and in my child bearing years – and although I had no intentions of getting pregnant I knew what the medication could do to a baby if I happened to accidentally get knocked up.
2. I suffer from anxiety and depression. I knew that the medication could accentuate those conditions. I had just come out of a hard time with depression and anxiety stemming from a divorce in my late 20s and I was finally beginning to feel good again. I didn’t want to regress because of something I did to myself.
After a month of trying prescription acne creams under his care and seeing no result, I finally agreed to take the Accutane. I took the medication for 6 months, being tested every month for pregnancy and normal blood levels before my next dose would be prescribed. The medicine started to attack my oil problem. In fact, my entire body dried up. My legs became the Sahara desert, my scalp became the snowy Alps and my lips were like sandpaper. Every side-effect I had been warned of came true. My mood started to decline. In the 6th month of taking Accutane, my mom ended up in the hospital, which was very traumatic for me. To save my sanity through that, I decided I didn’t need to be taking the medicine anymore.
On the positive side, Accutane cured my oil problems. After stopping the medication, my skin finally normalized. After about 6 months I noticed that my skin would still produce oil as I went throughout the day, but not nearly as much as it had once created. My skin was clear and I felt better about its appearance. For the first time in my life, I was down to washing my face only twice a day – morning and night.
Its now 6 years later my skin has definitely normalized. I would actually call my skin normal for the first time in my life. I occasionally get a blemish around my mouth – but it’s usually connected to hormones. I can wear makeup throughout the day to even out my hyper-pigmentation and discolorations without feeling like it is going to slide off after 10 minutes of wear. I can buy products for “normal” skin without them turning me into a greasy mess.
I wake up in the morning and I don’t feel like I’ve left an oil stain on my pillowcase.
Why do I tell this story of my fantastic journey through crappy skin to good skin? Well, for the first time in nearly forty years I no longer have to get up at the butt-crack-of-dawn! I finally have skin normal enough to allow me to not feel gross after waking up in the morning. I have changed up my routine to allow for an evening shower before bed.
5:45 a. m. alarm clock be dammed!
Not only has this new routine bought me an extra half-hour of sleep every morning, but it’s also taught me how to settle down and relax before bed. I used to find myself staying up so late at night working on my computer or wasting time watching television just waiting to go upstairs to collapse into bed. However, now I make it a point to head upstairs at an earlier time so I can spend a little time to take care of myself. Now, I actually shave my legs more than once a week. I use all of my fancy body products in the shower… EVERY TIME! I take time to slather lotion all over my body before putting on pajamas. I sit at my mirror and fix my brows instead of waiting till they’re caterpillars and having them waxed. I have even developed an evening skin care routine, which I so need at this age.
My new routine has forced me to pamper myself, and it is fantastic! Not only do I find that this new routine leaves me with more time in the mornings, but I find that it also calms me down in the evenings, prepares me for sleep and forces me off of the television and computer earlier than if I was stuck in my former routine. I feel better rested and have fallen asleep faster at night. I’ve had better sleep and woken up more refreshed and happy. I have more time and feel prepared and calmer in the mornings.
As I look back, It’s funny how skin issues caused me such angst for such a long time, not only appearance-wise but also happiness-wise. Retelling the story of my struggles with my skin makes me thankful I have matured and taken the steps I did to correct my problem. Finding some time to take care of my “shell” has improved my overall attitude about just about everything!