A gardener tends a thriving garden, pulling out weeds.

How To Choose Friends and Allies When You Have Eczema

It can be difficult to navigate how to adjust your social circle when you have eczema for the first time or even over a long period of time. There will be people who have the capacity to be there for you in the way that you need, who will still love you regardless of your health status. If you were not born with eczema, they will remember who you are without rashes. If you were born with eczema, these special people will be able to see the value and the qualities that you have beyond your appearance.

And to keep things real: There will also be people who will be completely repulsed by your new rashes, who will be judgmental and superficial. Those will be the people that you will eventually have to separate ways with (or at least create emotional distance from) if you want to be happy and have a kind, compassionate support system in your life.

How have I found the right support?

Over the past three decades of living with eczema, I have found myself lucky to have met people who could see my worth beyond my imperfect skin. And they made a big impact on my self-esteem and healing journey. Based on my positive experiences, I have some tips for how to select which people to have in your life when you have a chronic health issue:

What types of people do I spend time with?

People with depth. If you have people in your life who only point out your physical flaws and forget all of the good qualities that you have just because you're suffering, those are not the kind of people you want to keep around.

Helpful, open-minded problem solvers. You need to find people who are open-minded problem solvers: positive people who are focused on solutions rather than those who are dwelling on problems. Dwelling on problems literally wastes time and changes nothing. That is pointless for them and you.

Curious, compassionate souls. These angels of humanity are empathetic and willing to learn more about what you're going through. They ask you directly for more information instead of making assumptions of their own. They want to know what works and what doesn’t work to help your skin so that they can help support you being as comfortable and content in life while you heal.

Fringe/alternative people. Personally, I find comfort and acceptance from people who are on the fringe of society: who are considered weirdos and black sheep who are also judged because they live their lives or present themselves in a different way than conventional society would prefer or expect. It is a similar kind of isolating and bullying that eczema warriors go through. Different reasons, same results. I find these people to have more empathy and to generally be more laid-back because they know what it's like to be judged and ostracized for something that they cannot help either.

Humble nerds. Nerdy people are also really good friends to have because they are constantly learning new information about how to optimize their quality of life and the quality of their health (if they are interested in that topic). I specify humble nerds because they will be the type of nerds who are going to be more likely to accept that not everyone knows what they know. They also make excellent teachers of their subject of interest because it will be fun for these types of nerds to share what they know. A win-win for everyone. You never know what you might need to know, and nerds know a lot about many subjects or are masters of their topic(s) of interest.

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