How Makeup Helps Me Deal With My Chronic Illness

As I live with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (a neurological condition in which the nervous system attacks itself, resulting in lack of sensation and mobility, fatigue, and daily nerve pain), my pallor often gives me away. When I look in the mirror and see a pale and blotchy face, bloodshot eyes, and balloon-like bags, I feel worse than I did when I woke up.

Somehow the physical manifestation of my sickness (which I was diagnosed with at the end of 2013, and carries words like “degenerative” and “incurable” within it) is more of a reminder that I’m ill than how I actually feel. Not that I ever forget. But the weak and sickly reflection in the mirror is my body’s way of reminding me that my illness has me, that it will always have me, and that there’s nothing I can do about it. While disease-modifying drugs are often prescribed before MS progresses, they can’t undo the damage that’s already been done. To manage nerve pain and anxiety, painkillers and antidepressants are regularly suggested—but when all else fails, there is one treatment, albeit not prescribed by a doctor, that continues to be my savior.