The Web of Eczema, Below the Surface
Those of us who live with eczema challenge the burdens of a multitude of considerations to live with: Doctors, diet, clothing, hygiene, self-care, environment, and work. Some days, it takes a village to get up and face the world, not to mention ourselves. At least for me, the deeper challenge has been the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual practices, just to live day-to-day, depending, of course, on the severity of our individual condition. Life can feel like constant hyper-vigilance to feel safe and protected from our surroundings. It can sometimes feel like we have control though I’ll bet there are countless times we have all been left feeling powerless.
I share this personal experience not to alarm but to bring awareness to the importance of understanding the pieces of the eczema web that might not be seen on our skin's surface.
I didn't know how to address my emotions
When I was young, I didn’t think about the complexities that might lie ahead, especially as I didn’t have the guidance to help me care for myself in the way that would have supported me, like learning how to empower my emotional state. Left alone, I held the painful critical feelings inside, burying all my emotions. These unexpressed emotions had to go somewhere, so they were stored in my body, in my cells. Unaddressed, there began the Mind-Body Connection starting to weave the expensive web of health conditions that were at play, below the surface, unbeknownst to me. This led to chronic inflammation, which became the underlying factor that exacerbated my condition into adulthood. The body is a most complex and divine temple and knows how to help us survive when it needs to, though, at the same time, it can also cost us our health and well-being if we are unaware of what is manifesting beneath the skin.
The shame and emotional trauma of eczema
My relationship with eczema has been a wild ride. It shamed me to my very core as a child and well into my adulthood. But that was only the beginning. As a result of all the internalized self-rejection, I developed an eating disorder in high school that I navigated for 30+ years! At constant war with myself, I had no idea the dis-ease I was creating in my body, furthering my nervous system's deregulation. My body's intelligence knew how to stay alive, diverting the terror of the emotional trauma from the little girl with eczema who felt like an outcast, unlovable, and that she didn’t belong. I had no awareness of the interconnectedness of eczema and the eating disorder as it took control of my life below the surface. Driven by perfectionism on the outside, on the inside, my body was running on the fuel of cortisol, living in fight-or-flight for decades, until my cells and my body were breaking down, and so was I.
I felt absolutely out of control
I could barely walk into inpatient treatment my first time for the eating disorder. Completely malnourished, I was put on a feeding tube for 30 days to keep me alive. And still, I hadn’t addressed the emotional pain of my earlier life. Years later, my second time in treatment for the eating disorder, the emotional trauma exploded. My body could no longer store these emotions, and for the next four years, I lie bedridden with uncontrollable eczema, like a burn victim. This inflammation level was life-threatening. I was told my largest organ was failing, causing severe complications, including gut and thyroid problems, hormonal imbalances, mental and emotional challenges, and early-diagnosed osteoporosis. Having to be on prednisone and thyroid medication for the past 2-½ years advanced my osteoporosis, in which I now have to make dramatic lifestyle changes. I believe these interwoven conditions originated from living with the limiting beliefs and misinterpretations of who I believed I was because of my eczema.
I've been taking back my power
Loving myself has been both a struggle and a blessing, having had to learn how to nourish my soul, rest my nervous system, healing the decades of shame, rejection, and self-hatred that were so deeply imprinted in me. Having suffered so severely ultimately led me to awaken the truth inside me, discovering the love I am.
As outer experience reflects inner reality, when I began truly loving myself, I attracted my soulmate later in life. I stepped into my gifts as a Certified EFT Tapping Practitioner (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and Integrative Life Coach, helping others heal their limiting beliefs so they can live with peace and freedom within. I once thought both magical pieces of life were impossible, though all is possible with love.
In what ways have you learned to love yourself during your eczema journey?
Have you shared your eczema story with us?