Advocacy in All Forms
Whenever we think of advocacy, we think of loud voices, diving deep, but sometimes it's also about rest and knowing our limits. Advocacy isn't always about others, but also ourselves.
Ceci French, from Bay Area, California, has been treading this gentle path for the past few months.
How did Ceci begin sharing her story?
In 2022, Ceci was given a huge opportunity to share her skin story. While going through TSW, her friend Carlos approached her with an idea. As a producer and director at CutFocus Productions, he wished to share Ceci's journey in order to spread awareness.
Being strong and steadfast in her vision, Ceci didn't want people to feel sorry for her, but wanted to ensure that her story had a purpose. That this would be done in encouragement, with hope. Carlos agreed.
"Our vision aligned and magic happened," she shares.
What has her documentary done for her?
Once released, their project My Life During Topical Steroid Withdrawal instantly drew in an audience. Those who have endured eczema and TSW felt moved by the short film. And it changed Ceci's life.
"Putting out the documentary allowed me the opportunity not only to just share my own experience but also to open the gateway for others to share their own stories or just to feel like they are not alone," Ceci says.
It wasn't meant to be a piece on sorrow or pity, but to show a true account of what it takes to make it through this condition - with grace and love.
"Sharing my story has been a huge part of my healing experience," she declares. "It allowed me to release this dark painful part of my life almost like a taking a huge weight off my shoulders."
What approach does she take with skincare?
Not long after the film's release, Ceci became pregnant with her second daughter. Because of what she has been through, she definitely takes into consideration what she puts on her children's skin.
"Less is definitely more," she explains, "and a huge focus on nutrition, gut health, and physical health are huge parts of creating a maximally functioning body. That includes skin health."
However, when at her newborn's doctor visit, the first thing they offered was a topical steroid for the baby's acne and cradle cap symptoms.
"It infuriated me that the first piece of advice her doctor offered me was a steroid cream. I, of course, told her no thank you," she divulges. "Within a couple weeks her body was back to normal and the hormonal changes from birth had passed and so did the skin reactions."
Yet, even with Ceci being a courageous mother and advocate for others, she too knows that it isn't all just physical.
How does emotional health take a toll?
"I’ve had to mute the group(s) because of how depressing it gets," Ceci vulnerably shares. The TSW community is constantly looking for advice and support, often times out of desperation. "To no fault of their own, people are sharing their photos of badly flared skin mental health issues and I won’t lie it’s very triggering."
Being inundated with suffering can take a toll. Ceci is passionate about helping others, and has a massive heart, but sometimes advocates need to advocate for themselves - whether that's with muting the groups or deleting them altogether. You can't pour from an empty cup.
"I’m taking a pretty big break from it all right now because I just had an emergency C-section after an awful experience with labor and delivery. A whole other traumatic experience of its own," she continues. "My hope is that I can come back to advocacy with fresh perspective. To help create real changes by lending my hand to ITSAN and the great work they are doing."
We can use a lot more Ceci's in the world. Those with voices who work at the balance of being a torch, but also retreating to fuel their fire for the future.
Thank you, Ceci!
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