Coping with Comedy - Or Else I Might Cry
I can't speak for everyone when I say comedic relief is the best way to cope with health conditions, but I can confidently say it's been a lifesaver for me. It seems to break the ice.
Eczema is a stigmatized condition
Atopic dermatitis, or any visible skin condition, has always been extremely stigmatized and kept relatively "hush-hush." Understandably so, others don't want to be rude and bring up something you may be deeply insecure about. Sometimes it's hard not to take it personally if your biggest insecurity is mentioned — even if the other person is innocently curious about what you're going through.
We've all felt uncomfortable
The truth is, we're all in different stages of our skin journey, and it's completely valid to feel uncomfortable with how you look. I'm currently at a point in my life where I'm fine with my appearance during one of my face flares. It doesn't bother me, and sometimes it's not even the first thing I see when I look in the mirror. I'm certainly in a happier place because of this; however, I can't lie to you and say it was easy to get here. I believe I hit some point in my little skin journey timeline where I just got tired of hating myself. The physical effects of eczema are a challenge of their own, but then throw in poor mental health and insecurities into the mix…it's a recipe for utter misery.
We can control our mindset
Now, the turning point. You can't always control how your skin feels or what bothersome symptoms come with eczema, but you can control your mindset. As I said before, the physical aspect of having constant oozy, weeping, flaky, red, hot-to-the-touch, super sensitive skin was enough trouble for me, so I told myself I didn't deserve to let this disease control my thinking as well. My solution has always been comedy. It's gotten me through some tough times because I will probably end up crying if I don't laugh.
Comedy has worked for me
I've found that people tend to feel less awkward if you're the one to mention the very much visible immense red patch on your face that makes it look like it's snowing when you scratch it. People feel uncomfortable bringing it up, which normally results in more insecurity because in our minds, "they're totally looking at how gross my skin is" or "I bet they think I'm disgusting and contagious." If it's addressed, especially with some comedic relief (when I had flakes fall when I was scratching, I joked, "parmesan cheese, anyone?"), I feel like the elephant in the room is out of the way, and we can all focus on whatever interaction we were having as opposed to both parties being distracted thinking about what's "wrong" with me.
The t-shirts I've made are icebreakers
My personal favorite ice breaker is wearing one of the stupid T-shirts I make. "Yes, I've tried coconut oil." was the first one I made, and if you have eczema, you already know. My next shirt said, "it ain't easy being itchy." After having those two shirts sold by the National Eczema Association, I saw there was an actual demand for these shirts, which I thought was just incredible because that means other people are like me! Other people want to address something negative about themselves with humor. I started my company Lazy Babe Co. because I had posted another shirt I created: "hot girls have eczema," and the response was surprisingly overwhelming. I wanted to start a T-shirt business anyways, so it made sense to offer these shirts as a part of my launch.
I wear the t-shirts when I'm flaring
I love to wear shirts like this when I'm in a very obvious flare because it acknowledges that I'm super aware of what I look like, and I'm okay with joking about it. It tells people that it's something that doesn't bother me. I like that it opens conversations. Apparently, others feel the same way because I started getting messages from customers saying they wore one of my shirts out in public, and people who see what they're wearing go, "Ooh! I have eczema too!" and then BOOM. You suddenly feel less alone. There's this small sense of community that makes you feel a little better. You're not the only one going through this.
We're all bothered by our skin
I want to stress that you are not less of a person for letting your skin bother you. It's normal. It sucks. You have a right to feel that way because the truth is, eczema can be unbearable, and it's a very human reaction to feel insecure looking in the mirror with your red and scaly face when all you see in the media are models with clear skin. I'm also here to tell you that after all eczema has taken from you, how it has controlled you, and all of the things it has stopped you from doing, it is possible to take back some of that control and create your own narrative. When you decide to laugh about it, you're the one in charge, and I think it's such a wonderful thing.
Have you ever refused a medication or treatment?