A Self-Love Journey: My Teeth

For the month of September, Kelly-Ann Maddox is hosting Self-Love September on her blog and YouTube channel as well as in exclusive sounds and sessions material (if you can purchase it, I highly recommend it; alas, I cannot this year, but Kelly-Ann is a total inspiration).

But, in participating with the free bits of Self-Love September, and in continuing some of the work I’ve already been up to over the past couple of months, I thought I’d talk about an aspect of self-love that’s really affected me greatly as of late.

My teeth.

I’ve had anxiety and depression that I’ve struggled with for quite some time, and it really only increased once I left home and went away to college. My first year was rough: I had head lice that seemed to have spawned from Satan himself, I lost a dog _and_ my grandfather, I didn’t break out of my introvert shell and make a ton of friends, so I spent a lot of time in my teeny tiny fourth floor dorm sort of hiding out from the rest of the world. Somewhere in that year, I quit caring about a lot of things, and a lot of them were to do with my personal health. There were plenty of times where I just wasn’t properly taking care of myself, and the worst thing of all was my teeth. I just wasn’t taking the time to brush them a lot of the time (I know, gross, right?).

By about mid-way through my junior year, I was not only not taking care of my teeth? But the crippling fear about “How bad are they? What if they abscess and I die? What if I need them pulled- what if they just fall out?” was literally enough to keep me up for hours in the middle of the night if I hadn’t talked myself to exhaustion on Skype with someone first. Having a real, on-campus job that got me out of the house, and having a serious boyfriend, sort of helped me start taking a little bit better care. It got me moving, motivated. I felt like I was accomplishing something finally- I got complimented on my hard work, and had someone who was there sort of cheerleading for me from the sidelines.

That was a year and a half ago. And while I’d come a long way in working on things and starting to feel a lot better? I wasn’t done. This summer, after the mess of a school year last year was, I decided I wanted to make some major improvements: to my self-care regimen, to my spirituality that wasn’t feeding my soul and helping me through hard times like it ought to, to my physical living situations. No sooner had I said that, and I broke a filling on M&M’s. I wanted to be sick. All of the fears I’d had about my teeth, and about the dentist came flooding back. It was easy to sort of repress them until the wee hours of the night until there was a gap in my teeth and a piece of metal wedged in there and broken. It was a total wake-up call, and you can bet your ass I was obssessively keeping them clean after that.

I genuinely think I was panicking when I first went to the only dentist in town that my insurance would completely cover: like, sort of shaking, has to blink back a tear or two every couple of minutes, heart-racing, panic attack in this dentist office by myself. Their complete lack of professionalism didn’t help. I waited for an extra 20 minutes in the x-ray room because the hygienist was busy chatting with someone, and spent 2 hours there overall. All that, only to be scared with the possibility of a root canal that day (the way they made it sound made me think they were just gonna get it done because it was serious- and I was freaking out), made to test out an electric toothbrush, have absolutely nothing actually done to my teeth or the broken filling, and given an extensive payment plan for the work I’d need done- which would take a trip to an oral surgeon for a root canal and several trips to get everything done. What? What ended up happening, thankfully, was that my mum took me back to our old family dentist. It was going to cost more, but at least care was actually being taken. All of the plaque and crap on my teeth? Blasted off in one cleaning- and they even got the bit of broken filling that had been hanging out in my mouth for weeks out. I didn’t need a root canal; my cavities weren’t all that bad- or numerous thankfully. The best part of that experience was that they asked to make sure I was okay when I explained the why I hadn’t been taking care of my teeth. They made me feel comfortable sharing that with them, and then wanted to make sure that I was okay. That, to me, was really cool.

And I was nervous when I went in to get my broken filling fixed? But my anxiety about my teeth has been lessened, I’m not afraid of the dentist- at least not as afraid as I was, and through all that’s happened, I’ve started feeling better about myself and really wanting to take care of myself better than I have been- I’ve actually smiled, like teeth-showing really smiling, in photos and real life because I’m not ashamed of them anymore. And I think that feeling will only get better as I continue on my journey.

-Rachel

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