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Listen, this is not my first rodeo. ‘Seasoned’ is an elegant way of framing it. ‘Weathered’, less so. When you’ve been kicked about a bit, bruised by hard-won wisdom (most of which you can’t remember), you know the difference between depression, anxiety-disorder, anger problem and just…mood. Between diagnosable illness and just…low-level personality dysfunction. A tether so short that a traffic jam or a ‘printer not recognised’ can send you into a day-ruining rage. A skin so thin that the tiniest trigger can inspire an existential crisis. A draining of delight. An itch of hopelessness.
Because we all get used to the stress. It is our unwelcome and unhelpful housemate. Unhelp-mate, if you like. Oh, the excuses we make: ‘My job, my kids, my finances, my parents, my body, my relationship…no wonder I feel deranged. No wonder I seem to have developed a horrible personality. Clearly this is just me now.’ It’s frightening to believe that we will forever be just a little strained; resigned to the idea that if we can just get through this week then there is one more week before we have to get through the next week. I think it was the airlessness that I resented most; the sense that life was so heavy even though these were, supposedly, the good times. No one was ill or dead. The roof was over my head. And yet I felt the flickerings of grief. The pull of unnamed dread. I was obviously ungrateful and bad.
A couple of months after restarting LYMA, that powerful but subtle change has shifted my stress-levels once again. It’s an odd thing: If you have a few drinks, you get drunk. If you exercise hard, you ache. If you have Botox, your forehead freezes. But with LYMA, it’s the long game. I shan’t be walking away from it again.