Caregiver oarise Thompson (44) felt old and unsexy before she discovered Botox. Now, she can't imagine life without the injections.
For me, having Botox is like an anti-depressant. once I had started, I needed to keep going. Now when it starts to wear off, I feel quite low. When I go and get some more done, I feel good again.
I know I sound shallow and vain and there will be critics who say I should grow old gracefully but I'm not ashamed of having work done on my face. It has worked wonders for me.
As a young girl, I had very low self-esteem and never thought I was pretty. But when I look back at photographs, I can see how good I really looked.
over the years, I didn't feel too bad about my appearance but in 1997 my mother died of cancer and I really went downhill. I piled on the weight and gave up on making the most of myself. Then I realised I had to pick myself up before it was too late. I started a diet and around that time I fell in love for the first time in my life.
Bruce didn't care that I was overweight, he loved me for who I was. I ended up losing 15kg and then I turned 40. Losing weight can age a woman dramatically and I noticed lines and wrinkles had started appearing on my face. I felt like I couldn't win - if I was bigger, I looked younger. But when I was slimmer, I felt old for the first time in my life.
I realised the older I became, the more I was pushed aside and the more invisible I felt. I kicked myself for not realising how pretty I had been when I was younger and making the most of it. I've always been interested in make-up and beauty products and I have cared for my skin over the years. But when I saw those wrinkles, I knew in my heart something had to be done.
I had watched makeover shows on TV, showing people having plastic surgery and Botox. I wasn't sure if it was something ordinary women like me did - but I did some rsearch on the internet and found out that Botox was available at a clinic in Christchurch.
"I've got to try it," I thought, excitedly. I tried to stay realistic and not think that I would walk out of the procedure looking like I was 20 years old.
I ended up having Botox in my forehead to smooth out lines, collagen in my lips to make the border fuller and uncrinkle those little lines around my mouth, and collagen in the lines between my nose and mouth.
The difference was obvious straight after the first treatment and once it settled down, it looked even better. I felt glamorous and rejuvenated.
Since then, I've had it done another four times at a cost of about $600 a visit, depending what I can afford. Sometimes I only get my lips done, other times just the wrinkles.
I have had to sacrifice other things so I can afford to do this. I'm getting to the stage where I might try something else and I've been researching some surgical procedures. But I'm going to be very careful. I don't want to end up with a joker's face like some Hollywood stars.
Bruce is really supportive. For years, I went for the wrong men because I didn't feel like I was a nice person or deserved better. Now I've got a wonderful man who adores me. I didn't realise there were men like him out there!
He says whatever makes me happy is fine with him and he knows I'm a better person to be around now I've had the treatments.
It's very exciting. I've gone through stages in my life when I've been happy but they have never lasted long. Now I'm happy in a different, long-lasting way. As told to Sharon Course