A woman has hair flowing in front of her face, behind these strands of hair is her eczema that's being hidden.

Perfectionism vs. Eczema: Lifelong Quests For Control

Eczema is a visible imperfection, therefore the words perfectionism and eczema may not often be linked together. If one blemish or pimple can cause the average person without skin disease to totally freak out, then certainly endless dry, patchy, itchy skin could NEVER be seen in the same light of an obsession with what’s seen as “perfect.”

Eczema and perfectionism

Could having eczema promote an imbalanced obsessive personality flaw such as perfectionism? Speaking solely from my lifelong experiences, I definitely see that there are many connections.

Eczema can easily be linked to all facets of mental health, and perfectionism should not be overlooked as a potential segue to other more serious issues such as high anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Striving for what’s deemed as perfect or clear skin, but often falling short due to aspects out of our control, can lead to channeling those needs for control to more conquerable areas of our lives.

Finding control outside of my skin

For me, being motivated by limitations surrounding my health often led to overcompensating in areas such as work, school, or relationships. Success is then equated to excessive order, which often left me with no sense of balance or compassion for my true healthy needs.  This left little allowance for common errors because of the perceived mistakes already so clearly visible on my skin. Granted, if overcompensating turns into success and positive results then there should not be any worry right?

Overcompensating isn't beneficial for eczema

That outlook is admirable and may offer a powerful testimony of overcoming obstacles. Ultimately though, I have not seen this as truly advantageous toward connecting to a healthy mindset that is necessary for control of eczema. This becomes counterproductive toward acquiring one's needed inner calmness that aids healing and overall quality of wellness.

The stress of finding control

I remember actually crying in grade school when publicly getting an answer wrong or simply receiving simple reprimands. Sensitive to mostly everything, reduced me to being a people pleaser. Already convinced that I occupied too much space, attracting attention and disruption due to my health issues, anything extra completely destroyed my world. I guess one could say I was constantly on edge, a ball of anxiety.  Because of so much disorder with my skin, I craved order and proficiency in my personal universe and I was unwilling to give myself healthy room for error.

Striving to be flawless

The seemingly positive idea of flawlessness led me to become negatively critical of myself far beyond the expected insecurities of so many young girls. I only focused on things within my control to obsess over and if there was not a certainty that I would be good at something new I usually would not even try it.

A note to caregivers

Addressing this topic of perfectionism is my way of extending a warning for child eczema caretakers to pay attention to signs that could show an unbalanced view of failure within their child's pattern of emotions. Or an adult with eczema may become more conscious of personal unproductive behaviors they usually would overlook. I never second-guessed any of these behaviors until I reached a point in my adult life where I felt at complete failure, stuck and unable to free myself.

Recognizing destructive behaviors

It took a long road of healing from topical steroid withdrawal, and having a lot of time with my deepest thoughts during this process, that led to recognizing my destructive patterns. Hopefully, it won’t take such drastic circumstances for eczema warriors reading of my painful experience.

Self-care beyond the surface of the skin

My focus is now on promoting self-awareness of our inner well-being, mentally and physically, by being “Woke” - or aware - within to live our very best lives. Not being disproportionately consumed with our outward appearance due to skin disease. I urgently promote the hope that no matter what state our skin is in, we will strive to sleep well. Confident that we are giving our body the greatest fighting chance it can get in all areas possible, beyond just the surface.

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