Despite all the distorted perceptions I have of my body, wrinkles never really fell into a category marked "important." Put me in front of a mirror, and I would tell you how my thighs shouldn't be touching, or how I wish my stomach were a little more hollow looking, but wrinkles? I couldn't care less. Sure, I noticed the crease between my eyebrows getting deeper each year, but it certainly didn't send me into a tizzy the way not being able to see each rib did. My face could have looked like a raisin, as long as I could just stay thin.
I achieved "thin." And then "thin" took over. Waves of anorexic and bulimic behavior, that began as ripples in the water at first, came crashing so quickly, that I got swept into it's ocean. When I told myself to eat, made myself eat, my body refused it, sending me into panicked prayers above the toilet. Eventually, my malnourished body went into a full revolt, leaving me with no voice, no energy, and no will to live. So I checked myself in for treatment. Not just for the eating disorder, but because I was so lost in "emotion ocean," that I was unable to make even the simplest form of a decision.
My first inpatient stay was 7 weeks. I was given 18 ECT treatments, a few medication changes, and eventually discharged to continue intensive outpatient therapy. Six days later, I was admitted to another hospital as an inpatient, where I spent another 12 days, in what I imagine hell to be like. My medications were changed frequently, and without much monitoring, and by the time I left, I was already beginning to twitch. Within a few days, my head was shaking, my arms were flailing, and I was told it was a side effect of medications and would go away in a few weeks.
Fast forward six months, hundreds of phone calls, a dozen doctors, two neurologists, and a movement disorder specialist later. A diagnosis. Tardive dyskinesia and tardive myoclonic dystonia. The treatment? Botox injections every three months to slow the movement, for what could be, the rest of my life. I get about 6-8 weeks of relief from the sometimes violent whipping action, and my head slows it's pace and range. With each injection, the "sweet spot" period seems to be lasting a little bit longer.
I still fight with the demons of mental illness and disordered eating, but I know that I never want to hate myself, and self destruct the way I used to. I worked hard at putting an extra forty pounds on my bones, and I know I am the healthiest I have been in all my life. I occasionally inspect the crease between my eyebrows, reminding myself that I will never be perfect, but I will also never have to worry about a wrinkle on my neck. Although, over time, I'll probably have to lift up my face for people to see my flawless neck.