Eczema in Adolescence
Everyone can relate to how they felt as a conscious teenager. Trying to navigate the world of adulthood. It is a very precarious time. It is the period where you do not necessarily want the spotlight on you, but you crave respect and attention from your peers. Or as I call it, ‘The awkward years!'
My teen years
When I think back to my teen years, I remember the feelings of shame I had about my skin. And how I came across to my friends. My eczema, back then, was different in appearance from how it is now. The skin was raw and open and I basically do not know how I managed to stay sane. I think I obviously blocked it out. I used to make funny videos and music and turn my personality levels up to eleven! I wanted people to almost not notice my skin or look beyond eczema to see who I really was or could be.
One of my students had severe eczema
In my work as a driving instructor, I occasionally teach teenagers who have skin problems. I remember teaching a person a few years back who had quite severe eczema on her arms and hands. I could see and feel just how self-conscious she was in her first lesson. I thought about mentioning and getting it out of the way nice and early but I held back. The time did not feel right for some reason. A first driving lesson for a teenager is stressful at the best times never mind if one has a skin condition that is on display for all to see. I did not want to add to that stress. I really felt for her and just wanted to say, "Hey! you’re in good company here, trust me!"
I showed her she wasn't alone
On someone's first driving lesson I spend about half-hour doing a 'controls lesson' explaining and showing how to operate and use the controls. As I said earlier, I just wanted to make my pupil feel comfortable. As I was running through my usual spiel, I rolled my sleeves up so she could see she was not alone with this condition. I could see that it instantly relaxed her. I can remember feeling, and still do on some occasions, just as she did.
I was anxious about my eczema, too
As a young adult, I would feel reluctant to have a sleepover at a friend's place for fear that I would get blood on their bedsheets. I would frequently turn down offers to go to house parties or if I did, would make excuses and leave early. The condition has a habit of making you feel like you are worthless and we must do our best to stay on top of the fight. It is a constant mental and physical battle. It is for me, anyway.
I feel all of my teenage insecurities now
Now, I am having these feelings of being a teenager again as I have started seeing someone. She is great but she has picked up on my insecurities and started to ask awkward questions. It has been about four months since we started dating and the teenage Pete is going through all the same feelings of anxiety. This could be my biggest battle with eczema yet.
On an average day, how would you rate your level of anxiety related to atopic dermatitis?