Have you ever thought, “There is something seriously wrong with me”? Say, since you were 12 years old? This birthday is a big birthday for me, not only because I am officially super old, but because I just realized there has been something seriously wrong with me. For about 23 years. An easily-fixed glitch in my system that until now has wreaked havoc on my entire adult life. Like a Tasmanian Devil tattoo on your forehead. It’s been that hideous.
[Outfit breakdown: Silk & sequins phoenix top $15 (Serendipity Boutique; No brand name on tag—made in India circa 1980). Lace cutout leggings $20 (Forever 21). Salvatore Ferragamo orange suede boots $45 (Idaho Youth Ranch; Original MSRP=$1500). Thinning hair, acne and angst (courtesy of an endocrine disorder called PCOS).]
I don’t know why I can’t just post a “Yea, it’s my birthday!” Cheep note but I can’t, because it’s only been 9 days since it’s really sunk in (along with the hormones). I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and I likely have since puberty. Like 1 out of 20 women. This basically means my ovaries don’t work quite right. They don’t create estrogen quite like they should. So I have too many androgens in my blood. That’s it. With continuous birth control, it’s fixed. Simple, right? In real life, for me, this means I have had severe acne, unwanted hair growth, male pattern baldness, plus unrelenting depression and anxiety my whole fucking adult life. Those are simply the scientific symptoms. The outcome of this short circuit. And I never knew why. These have always been my biggest shames. And I have always blamed myself for how I look and how I see the world. And I have spent years in the vortex of utter misery. While reading existentialist Russian literature, for Christ’s sake.
[Above, find a cat anus for comic relief.] So yes, this is a revelation. This means now I might just probably will actually be FREE. With a readily available, relatively harmless (especially compared with antipsychotics) and inexpensive treatment. For the first time since I was a pubescent girl. Without the overriding fear of it coming back. The darkness and the blights.
The weirdo part: I don’t really know what kind of person I would have turned out to be if not plagued in such a way for so long. I was a shy, insecure, depressed, spotted teenager, then adult. Would I have been relatively normal? But I choose to believe that this all happened to give me depth of character, and strength of soul, and empathy for pain and humiliation. To allow me to stand on stage (and sit on the internets) and bare all not giving too many fucks because I have been burned by the real fire inside. To unearth in me the ability to think, read and write with a level of deep dis-ease that sometimes drives everything towards the flames and the Phoenix-ing.
But in reality. In real, real life, what I have now before me, at 35 years old, is a gift few are ever given. It’s like my own personal fountain of youth. It’s like my second coming. And I will take everything I have learned and I will swallow it whole and I will run with it. Far, far, far.
Happy birthday to me.
Jessica, I adore and love you just the way you are, the way you have always been, and likely the way you’ll always be. Your beauty is so real and deep and meaningful in so many ways. Happy Birthday for sure, but I’m glad I have known the amazing Jessica Holmes whose heart and soul were nourished and flourished like few others. Ed