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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Gordon-Chow

Stupid Little Chin Hairs

Updated: May 28, 2023

If you have anxiety, ever had anxiety and/or have chin hairs, keep reading.

What do anxiety and chin hairs have in common? Probably nothing. Maybe something. But I do have a tendency to take two completely unrelated things and make them related when I need to make sense of something. Even if the comparison is far-fetched.

I have PCOS, a not-so-fun endocrine disorder that wreaks havoc on the female body. No two PCOS sufferers have the same exact experience but things like, missed and/or painful periods, infertility, weight gain, obesity, unwanted facial hair, insulin resistance, diabetes, acne, hair loss, and skin and mood issues are common. For me, the stuff nobody sees is usually the easiest the deal with, at least I can hide it better. The stuff on the outside though, things like skin and hair issues, they are the real MVPs. (Most Valuable Player = biggest influencer, but not in a good way). I spend a fortune on skin care products and recently electrolysis, a method of permanent hair removal. It's totally safe, but painful AF. I have stubborn little chin hairs that have been a source of embarrassment for the better part of the last 20 years. I finally got fed up with waxing and tweezing and invested in a more permanent solution about 8 months ago.

Electrolysis sucks. I mean, it is amazing; a permanent solution to a really frustrating problem. My lady is changing my life. But it hurts like hell. It works by taking an electric probe and sticking it directly into each hair follicle while a burning-like current travels through your skin to destroy individual hairs at their root. It’s not a one-and-done kind of thing either. It’s takes repeated treatments over the course of several months to a year. It‘s a slow, painful and frustrating process. I had a treatment today and now, 5 hours later, my lumpy irritated chin is an annoying reminder of how unpleasant of an experience it was. But it wasn’t just the massacre of the hairs on my face that was unpleasant. It was the already hypersensitive and anxious state I was in when I arrived at the office.

My electrologist and I have gotten to know each other well. We talk while she electrocutes my little hair follicles, though I speak with a tense jaw and try hard to minimize the movement of my mouth. She's seen all sorts of things affect my response to treatment. When I'm tired, I'm a little impatient. When I am pissy, I find the process thoroughly satisfying (A chorus of "die mother effers!" plays on repeat in my mind). When I am overwhelmed and anxious (like I was today) the process is a grueling 30 minutes of extreme overstimulation and my threshold for pain is at an absolute zero. Today, with every "zap" I had to move some part of my body to ease the unrest I was feeling. My leg went back and forth on the table while I laid there. I'd bend my knee, straighten my leg, then do the same with the other. I'd scratch an imaginary nose itch, and once accidentally bumped the probe in her hand trying to reach for a piece of hair on my forehead. She commented that I was really fidgety and recognized that it was tortuous for me, for the first time since starting treatments.

My intolerance sort of solidified for me the way I had been feeling all week. Out of the clear blue, my [usually well managed] anxiety seemed to grow out of control - for no obvious reason. All week I'd been feeling uneasy, jittery, emotional and just really out of sorts. I begged her to finish a few minutes early today. I had reached my limit and have had lots of practice, in recent years, walking away when things get to be too much.

I got in my car, feeling really unsettled. Though there was not actually an electric current running through my body, it felt like there was. My veins felt like power lines carrying buzzing, erratic energy to my extremities. Every sensation felt like too much. The muggy air. The tightness of my sweatpants (thanks PCOS bloating). The stinging sensation in my face. Agitation was exploding in me. I looked in the mirror, saw how fiery red and swollen my face was and yelled out loud, "You stupid little bastards!" I startled myself a little. Like - okay, I have clearly lost it; I am talking to my former chin hair. But after that fleeting moment, I realized my feeling toward those stupid little chin bastards felt a lot like my relationship with anxiety. It too, is a stupid little bastard.

Anxiety often pops up out of nowhere - kinda like the chin hairs. All is fine (chin is smooth and hairless) then boom - an unsightly little bugger pops up. It reminds me that the self-consciousness isn't gone, it's just been laying dormant. And sometimes without warning it's there to rear it's ugly head. I have worked really hard to reign in feelings of fear, overwhelm and irrationality. But every now and then I am reminded that it's in my wiring. Generalized anxiety is not a tendency to overthink, or panic when shit hits the fan. It's part of who I am. I can work to make it better. Manage it's ugliness. But the process is one that is long and frustrating. There is no one and done. It's something I will be working on forever. And just like the little chin bastards, despite my best efforts to do everything in my power to eradicate it, it can show up at any time. When I pull myself together well, and my outward appearance tells the world, I am good and healthy, there will always be things that undermine the process. Things with an unsightly presence. Bastards are in abundance, but so is my willingness to rip them to pieces.

I am reminding myself that tomorrow is a new day, and the one after that, and the one after that. So long as I keep on living, I'll keep getting a do-over. A chance to strengthen my mechanisms for coping. A chance to experience all that makes me who I am. The good, the bad and the ugly. Tomorrow my do-over is waking up fresh-faced (and hairless) and ready to slay whatever stupid little bastards come my way.

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