How Botox Made Me Happier

Susan Gregory Thomas

Around about 2010, I’d had it. The recession had gouged my husband’s income and mine—and we were flat-out broke.

As a fretful, 40-something breadwinner for a family of five, I did what no one in my position should: I looked in the mirror.

Worry lines rutted a distinct “11” between my brows; my tension-grooved forehead was even worse. God, you look even more rotten than you feel, I wailed.

That’s when kismet struck. Through a friend in New York, I met a cosmetic surgeon who needed text for her website—and we struck a deal: Botox injections for copywriting.

I was driven to go for it—and not just by vanity.

I had read a new study reporting that Botox not only relaxed forehead lines, but by paralyzing the underlying muscles, it actually caused patients not to experience the feelings associated with them, namely, sadness, intense emotion, and worry. In other words, Botox might make me feel happier.

Delete wrinkles and de-stress? Yes, please!

My husband and kids noticed nothing, but I knew. Botox doesn’t affect one’s ability to smile or frown, but I couldn’t scowl, no matter how hard I tried. So I gave up. A strange, new sense of placidity settled in. Compared with my former state of perma-furrowing, I felt like I was constantly coming out of yoga. 

It’s the secret side of Botox, which makes me think: No wonder it’s so popular. There were about 9 million cosmetic procedures done in the U.S. last year, and some 82 percent of those were nonsurgical, like Botox injections.   

I’m committed. Between birthday and Christmas gift checks—and whatever else I can scrounge—I still go twice a year. It’s cheaper than a shrink; plus, it makes you look good. From where I sit, it’s the best deal in town.  

Susan Gregory Thomas lives in Philadelphia and is the author of
In Spite of Everything, a memoir.