I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a household of people who didn’t discuss basic bodily functions. I remember how liberating it was when my first boyfriend, talking with me on the phone, would say casually, “I just took the most amazing poop.” As a teenager, I had classic control issues and was afflicted with a combination of eating disorders that they now classify as “Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified”.
It's (not) under control
Control issues can manifest in so many different ways, that it’s both painful and illuminating when something happens to you that you simply can’t control—and, which forces you to question everything you took for granted.
In grad school, for example, I developed a serious case of psoriasis on my face.
It started on my scalp and was a horrendous hassle, both in terms of the itch, or pruritis, which I ended up doing a ton of research on, and the general maintenance of trying different shampoos and treatments.
At some point, a different breed of it migrated to my face in a bright red creeping pattern all along my hairline. When I finally went to a dermatologist, they tried giving me a steroid-based cream to use on my face. I absolutely refused, not willing to risk the damage the cream might cause in the long run—including, a permanent intolerance to any sun exposure, which could exacerbate my existing condition.
During this time, I was finishing school, job searching, and working two part-time jobs, while frantically trying to get to the bottom of my disorder.
I read Edgar Cayce’s missives. I confessed to friends that “something was happening to me.” I took documentary photos of the creeping red patches on my face. I slathered my face with Vaseline (not the solution).
It migrated to my eyebrows. And then, somewhere along the line, I found a successful treatment formula that worked for me.
Listen to your gut
Part medical miracle, part common sense, part grassroots word of mouth—most importantly, I learned to listen to my gut.
The skin, being the largest and most expressive organ of your body, has the ability to show you things that you would willingly ignore. How many of us are going to walk around talking about the fact that we haven’t taken a decent poop in x number of days?
I’ve had a variety of episodes that remind me of that time in my life, and force me to take a step back and listen to what my gut is telling me. I still have control issues, which manifest in less harmful ways, like carrying wipes with me wherever I go.
And, every day, I make the effort to celebrate a good poop.
~Jennifer Nace 2.26.10
A simple bio—Jennifer is a Reference Librarian and aspiring romance novelist living in Central, NY. This piece is dedicated to her Aunt Shirley.