Isolation And Social Anxiety With Eczema
Growing up, although I was always somewhat of a "loner" and felt alienated much of the time, I was actually quite the social butterfly.
In high school and college, I had a lot of friends. I loved going out, having new adventures, and being around people. In fact – I hated being alone and needed to be around people. However, as my skin worsened throughout my teenage years and into my 20s, this all started to shift in the opposite direction.
Eczema takes a huge toll
Unfortunately, as I continued to deal with eczema throughout my life, and it continued to get worse, I became more and more withdrawn. At 17 years old, I suddenly lost my hair and was diagnosed with alopecia areata. There was no known cause. It caused my life to spiral in every way possible.
My parents were kind enough to buy me a wig - and it certainly was not a cheap investment. Most people couldn't even tell I was bald at the time. However, the embarrassment and shame I felt started to get out of control.
I started CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) that same year. Shortly after, I was put on several medications for my mental health. Despite all this, I continued to live my life as normally as I could. I graduated high school a year early, worked a full-time job, got my CNA, and planned to go into an RN program.
My entire life changed in a split second
To my utter shock, my health continued to spiral downwards. I found out about topical steroid withdrawal and started that journey at 24. It meant having to drop out of school and work altogether. In turn, this caused me to isolate myself even more.
I gradually became more withdrawn and isolated all those years, but when I went into TSW, it went to a whole other extreme. For many years, I completely lost all contact with anyone but my parents (and social media). All of the people I considered "friends" quickly vanished, revealing their true colors.
I was left to suffer alone - in a nightmare of my own.
Daily struggle of social anxiety
Today, 7.5 years into TSW, I still struggle with social anxiety and having connections of any kind. I still lack in-person connections, aside from my immediate family. Most of my time is still spent alone. Being bedridden for 6 years caused me to start experiencing borderline agoraphobia, and I began to struggle just going outside - especially in a public place.
Although the whole planet has experienced some form of isolation during the COVID pandemic, I don't think most people understand what such a long time of being isolated and feeling ashamed does to the human psyche.
I yearn for human connection
While I am naturally more of a hermit and have learned to enjoy my own company, I still yearn for real human connection. I long to have more close friends again (whether online or in-person). I desire true connection, even though I am terrified of it at the same time.
Eczema and TSW have caused a level of social anxiety that has been extremely difficult to deal with. The isolation takes a huge toll on my mental, emotional, and physical health. Thankfully, through CBT therapy, hypnotherapy, life coaching, meditation, and other lifestyle changes, I have learned to manage it - slowly but surely.
I still have a long way to go, but at least I'm still moving forward. One step at a time - that's all we can do.
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