Bullying: Life As an Eczema Patient
Last updated: May 2023
Growing up with any condition that severely affects our health is really tough. The mental and physical stress on our bodies can be extremely grueling and no doubt shapes the people we become. Many people living with conditions that single them out, frequently find themselves on the other end of some form of bullying. It is unpleasant and if I even get a whiff of someone being bullied now, I cannot stop myself from getting involved. Someone once said you can't be against bullying without actually doing something about it. Couldn't agree more!
What were my school years like?
I can remember very few experiences of being bullied at school for my eczema. I had a few comments about being asthmatic but not much on the eczema front. Thankfully nowadays there is widespread awareness of mental health and how minority groups are treated, so while bullying still goes on, back then people did not even have to think about what was coming out of their mouths. At least today, people will be acutely aware that their actions could face serious consequences. All I really remember about school is people mentioning my skin in a really sympathetic way. It was nice but I used to feel so embarrassed. I think I felt uncomfortable that it might even be a talking point.
How did people treat my eczema at work?
When I left college and started work that is when I really noticed people’s attitudes toward me. I was no longer in the safe, cozy warm environment of school with all my friends. Now I was in the big wide world on my own working in very male-dominated places. Most people I encountered were nice but there were a few people who got a weird kick out of making comments about my skin. The strange thing about it was that normally people who bully ordinarily tend to do it in front of others and then are nauseously kind to you in a one-on-one situation.
Was it always public humiliation?
This was not my experience, however. There was this one guy that would always shift the conversation over to my eczema when we worked alone. And not in a positive way. When I look back on those days I think to myself that this one particular guy could not have been happy with his life. Do not get me wrong, I don't make excuses for him, I just try to understand. I am interested in people's behavior. The important thing to remember if anyone is experiencing bullying is that the problem is not yours. They are insecure about their own life which is why they are making you feel bad about your own.
How am I treated now?
By the time I was in my late 20s all the comments and stuff just faded away. And that is interesting in and of itself. I wonder why people continue to get bullied all through their lives, while others are lucky to have it slowly erased from theirs. I often think I made a subconscious decision not to have kids in case I passed on my 'eczema gene.' I would not want anyone to go through life constantly feeling unhealthy or insecure. Life is pretty tough without these issues.
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