Water pouring into a hole in the bottom of a knocked over cup.

Putting Yourself First: Exhaustion & Eczema

In this world and society, we are often taught that putting ourselves first is selfish. We are conditioned to think that we must first care about others and then ourselves. In reality, the opposite is true.

Eczema is exhausting

We can't pour from an empty cup. And let's face it, when dealing with a chronic illness such as atopic dermatitis, our cup is often empty – more so than the majority of people. We spend so much of our time and energy just making sure we don't have a flare-up or outbreak. Everything about dealing with it 24/7 is absolutely exhausting.

It's a day-to-day drain

From lack of sleep to constant itching and scratching to the mental and emotional struggle, we already tend to be exhausted. On top of that, there are so many things we have to do daily to care for ourselves that others may not necessarily have to do.

Whether that's applying lotions and creams, taking extra supplements, making smoothies, or tailoring to a certain diet, going to doctor's appointments - it's all very time-consuming and exhausting.

We need to fill up our own cup first

This is why it's even more important to fill up our own cups before pouring them into others. Then, we aren't just left "empty." It is well known that stress is one of the biggest triggers of eczema. It tells us that leaving ourselves empty and feeling overwhelmed does more harm than good.

Our lives look different than others

It's easy to overwhelm our bodies and not get the proper rest. Especially if we are constantly running around and trying to get things done. While we wish so badly we could be "normal" and do all the same exact things other people do, we often just can't. Our lives look much different than the "average" person's life.

I believe accepting that is one of the most important things we can do for our health.

It’s okay to be different

It's okay to have a life that looks different from most people, and it's okay to slow down. It is something that I have judged myself for, for far too long. But I've come to realize it's absolutely necessary. Our bodies do so much work constantly, and so much energy gets used up on a daily basis. For eczema sufferers, it's even more complex than that, as our bodies are constantly trying to heal rashes and wounds and calm inflammation down.

We need to rest to heal

It's vital to give our bodies the rest they need to heal, not just our bodies but our minds. When we are running around all the time and staying busy, along with trying to help so many other people, we can end up burning ourselves out so easily.

I'm still finding a balance

I find that I am constantly seeking that balance – between over-giving and feeling like I'm not giving enough. There are times when I want to be a hermit and keep to myself, almost to an unhealthy extent. Then there are other times when I am constantly trying to help others and be as productive as possible. I continue swinging from one side to the other, in an attempt to find a balance.

I can do more when I prioritize myself

I have learned though, that when I am at my optimal level, I am able to do much more for others as well. My productivity levels go up all around. So, in the end, it actually saves me time (and a whole lot of headache) to put myself first.

The voice in my head still constantly tells me I am not "doing enough" or that I am "selfish." But I am slowly learning that it is okay, and even necessary, to put myself first.

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