Within these past few months, I have made so many life changes- from the loss of a relationship, moving (back) home, dietary changes and changes in medications. You can say I somewhat anticipated a flare in my atopic eczema. There’s been a lot of stress on me lately and with all of these changes, I just knew something would trigger it.
Coming to terms with my eczema
In the past, I spent most of my time trying to hide it. I was so worried about what others would think of me that I became my own (worst) critique. If my forearms weren’t 100% flare-free I would wear long sleeves. It didn’t matter what season it was. It could be snowing in Winter or 89 degrees in the Summer, I was determined to hide my eczema at any cost. If I ever felt like my face was starting to flare, I’d try to cover it with concealer, which only managed to aggravate it more and worsen the situation.
But that was young me. Over the years I’ve grown. I’ve learned. I’ve discovered myself and I’ve come to appreciate myself: all of me. I don’t love every aspect of my life, but then again, I don’t think anyone does. I don’t love how inflamed my skin gets. I don’t love how people make assumptions about my condition. I don’t love itching and I certainly don’t love when people tell me not to scratch! – But I love me. Although I don’t love each of these individual aspects of my condition and my life, I’ve come to terms with them now. These things (and much more) are exactly what’s molded me into the person I am today. I’m not embarrassed of what made me who I am.
Taking the time to educate others
Now I wear what I want to wear. I don’t let eczema or anything else control my life and/or my decisions. If I’m having a flare, so be it. I’m not afraid of people asking questions or making assumptions about me anymore. – They’re people. That’s what they do. Instead of being ashamed, I now take it upon myself to correct misconceptions and educate the public on my condition. Nine times out of ten, once I tell someone what “the bruises on my arms” or the “dark spots on my legs” are all about, they tell me they have a friend or relative with the same condition! – Those are win, win situations. Not only I am able to correct misconceptions/stigmas related to my condition, I’m able to help that person become a better caregiver/support system for someone they care about.
Atopic eczema and Ulcerative Colitis are two conditions I live with and thrive with on a daily basis. They have made me strong. With them I’ve gotten enough stares, rude comments and judgments to last a lifetime and then some! Once upon a time, it did hurt. I took a lot personally. There are times when I still take things to heart. It’s not easy being different but I remind myself of who I am and how far I’ve come. I remind myself that if it wasn’t for my conditions I may not be the person I am today. – And that my friends would be the real tragedy.