A woman with eczema looks happily at her reflection in the mirror

My Body, My Decision

As someone living with a chronic illness, I am constantly getting unwarranted advice. People are always suggesting a medication, a diet, a cream or an ointment I should try. I don't know why every time someone finds out about the condition I live with, they feel compelled to discuss my options with me.

I know people are trying to be nice. I realize most people just want to help and genuinely care about my wellbeing, but that's just it, it's mine.

Why did I feel like I didn't control my body?

As a child, you're forced to follow your parents' rules. Whatever treatment option my family chose for me was the one I went for.

I know they truly cared about me and wanted to do what was right, but I hated it. I hated that I had no say in things. I hated feeling like my opinion didn't matter and I certainly hated it when I had to start the new eczema treatment that I never wanted in the first place.

Why did I start to put my foot down?

I'm sure I'm not alone. I imagine there are a lot of kids who went through, or are currently going through, what I experienced as a child growing up with chronic condition(s). I feel for them. While I had to accept it for the first eighteen years of my life, after that I refused. I decided I was no longer doing things I didn't want to do.

Could that have cost me? Possibly. Could my skin be in better condition right now? That's very possible too - but it's not about that. It's about my happiness. It's about doing what I want to do and living life in the way I want to live. Your body is your decision, or at least once you're over the age of eighteen.

Was their advice grounded in research?

Don't allow friends, family, society, to dictate what you do with your life and/or your body. Don't get me wrong. You can still consider advice or suggestions if it's actually something you'd like to try, but don't just go along with anything because someone says to.

For a long time, I was very passive about this issue. When people gave me advice, I would just listen. If they asked me a question about it I would tell them "I'll look into that," or consider it for myself. Would I? Usually not. Most times it wasn't scientifically proven to show the benefits anyway. Just another online hype. Did I tell them that? No.

How do I handle the eczema advice now?

Now, I speak my mind. How is anyone to know otherwise? If it is a good idea, I will let the person know. If it truly is something that could benefit my life, I will admit it and maybe even consider it.

But if it's something I don't want to talk about, something I'm uncomfortable with, something I want no part of, or even if I just want to listen to my doctor's orders and trust his years of experience and expertise over the word of a random stranger's...I'll let it be known. You don't have to be rude, but you also don't have to be afraid to let someone know when they're outside of their expertise.

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