It’s that time of year when I’m forced to schedule my annual embarrassing doctor’s appointment. You’re thinking mammogram and pap smear. But no, I suffer from another repeating ordeal, SVD, Seasonal Vanity Disorder, a hush-hush, but common mid-life ailment.
Each June, I’m forced to hot foot it to the doctor to get a prescription for prescription-strength allergy-relief medication to soothe my itchy swollen eyelids, blotchy, splotchy derma, and yes, even my hot feet!
“Ah, seasonal allergies,” you surmise and sympathize.
Well, thank you for the sympathy, but you’re wrong about what ails me. And when I tell you the source of my misery, you may – I fear – wish to withdraw your sympathy.
Vanity Thy Name is … Me
You see, my distress is of my own making. And like that old definition of the word “crazy” – the one where a person makes the same mistake again and again but expects a different result – I do the same. Each Spring, just before my birthday, I look in the mirror and utter a loud “Yikes.” I see a fresh crop of wrinkles, brown spots, and multiple other not-so-tell-tale signs of aging. I then go on a frantic buying binge, purchasing all sorts of new makeup products designed to instantaneously make me look cuter-younger-better!
Last year, I focused on facial products. I bought cleansers, serums, moisturizers, brighteners, products that lighten, lift, tighten – some individually, some simultaneously. I purchased skin creams in multiple varieties – day, night, eye, neck, “head, shoulders, knees and toes” and assorted body parts in between!
Seasonal Vanity Disorder Strikes!
I spent a fortune and invested hours each morning and night applying, buffing, exfoliating, patting, and dabbing. By Week 2, I did look younger, if bright-red boiled-lobster-ish-colored skin is your idea of youthful.
At the doctor’s office, my mean MD did note in her chart that my wrinkles and fine lines had temporarily disappeared – thanks to my swollen, puffy allergic-induced dermatitis.
Two weeks of creams and pills – and makeup cold turkey – I was cured, re-wrinkled, and another year older.
New Year, Same Scenario
This year, the eyes had it. In particular, I focused my bifocaled peepers on bright color eyeliners. I bought “wild” green, intrepid “teal, “escape” (another shade of green) “electric” blue, navy, purple, and multi-color glitter (!) eyeliner.
I tried to apply control when I started experimenting with all these new cosmetics. “Applying control” means I should have started with just one brand and one color eyeliner. I should have started wearing that one brand/one color liner for a few hours, then a few days to make sure I wasn’t allergic to any of its ingredients. But oh, no. Faster than you can blink your eye, I abandoned the hard-won wisdom of my middle-age and jumped from eyeliner to eyeliner, sometimes making the product switch in one day! One day I even went for a two-tone layered look! And yes, I did so knowingly, foolishly, willfully ignoring the watery eyes, the tingling, scratchy lids, and the morning redness.
At the end of the first week, things were, as they say, “problematic.” I took a break for the weekend, used some over-the-counter eye drops and non-prescription, non-drowsy Claritin. By Monday I was – praise the Gods of Vanity – symptom-free and back in colored eyeliner. It was a beautiful electric blue – eyeliner – day.
But alas, the Vanity Gods giveth and they taketh away. This time quickly. It took just three days for my eyes to see the glory – the full glory – of allergy agony.
My Doctor, My Friend
When I called my doctor, who also happens to be a close friend, pleading for sweet steroidal and cortisol relief, she sounded surprised. At first, I didn’t understand why. After all, this was the fifth year in a row I was making the “please, please, please, can you see and save me today” June telephonic plea. Then it became clear, well, sort of clear. My eyes weren’t just itchy and inflamed; my vision was a bit blurry too.
“Didn’t you get my birthday card?” she asked. “I sent it to you with a refill for XXX. I thought it would be more efficient than having you call in for it.”
It just goes to show you -You might not be able to teach a middle-aged woman the dangers of SVD makeup vanity and over-simplified get-cute quick makeup make-overs, but you can teach a doctor to give the gift that counts – anti-itch medication to help that vain patient save face!
And in the interest of saving face, what symptoms of SVD do you, my dear Middle-aged Muddlers, display each year around your birthday? Do you go on a makeup buying binge like I do? Schedule a mani-pedi or a day at the spa? Or just hide under the covers? Care to share?