How to Mentally Prepare for TSW
Recently, I wrote an article about my experience with topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) and how it was one of the most ‘challenging, depressing, and agonizing’ treatments I had ever attempted to try.
That’s why if you or someone you know is considering TSW, I want to be sure you’re as mentally prepared as you can be for it.
TSW is a mental battle
TSW is not something anyone can be fully ready for. But similar to running a marathon, one can prepare as best as they can before the big race.
This type of treatment is a mental battle as much as it is physical. In fact, I believe that it can weigh more heavily mentally and psychologically if one is not prepared for what could possibly happen. Since there isn’t a real way a person can be prepared for the physical impact of TSW (unless maybe they have gone through the process already), I find it more important to focus and build on mental stability beforehand.
A 'nothing to lose’ mentality
When I decided to try TSW, I was motivated; I was hungry for healing. I was at a point in my life where I was desperate for relief from my eczema. Nothing was working, including topical steroids, and my flares just kept getting worse. By choosing TSW and trying something new, I felt like I had nothing to lose.
Ready for healing
I found that this mentality was supported me in the long run. It indicated that I was ready for healing no matter the side effects. That I was ready to fight any battle that came my way because I only had one goal in mind going into this – healing is on the other side. This commitment to myself and my health was greater than any fear or side effect of TSW.
Motivation to keep moving forward
That’s why when the physical side effects – skin shedding, burning, itching, oozing, etc. – began to surface, I continued with the process. The external impact didn’t stop me from reaching my goal because I was so focused on what was on the other side of all of that pain.
The emotional impact of TSW
This is not to say that I took all of the physical side effects with a breeze and a cold glass of tequila with lime on the side. Let me be clear - TSW had me on the most unstable, emotional roller coaster ride I had ever been on. From crying almost every day to avoiding mirrors and photos, to dealing with depression, to being hateful towards myself, from it affecting my relationships with others, and so much more... TSW brought out the insecurities and fears that laid hidden within me.
Learning more about myself and my body
But even so, I continued with the process because I had nothing to lose, but everything to gain. TSW gave me the chance to understand what my body needed to heal. It was another opportunity to learn more about myself and the different options that existed for relieving the symptoms of eczema. And most importantly to me, it was one step closer to freedom and normalcy.
I want you to have the same chance and be as best prepared for TSW as you can be. So if you are considering it, here are a few tips before making your final decision:
Do your research
Do yourself a favor and look up itsan.org. Read people’s experiences. Learn about expected side effects. Understand that everyone is different. How other people react to TSW may be different than how you will, so don’t be fearful of what you don’t know. Do and respond as you go!
Establish your support system
I can’t emphasize this enough. Having a support system should be a requirement, not a suggestion. Without the support of my friends, family, and TSW community, there’s no way I would have gotten through it with as much success as I have. Establish your support system with those who are caring, loving, understanding, and compassionate.
Communicate with others what’s going on
Before I began my TSW journey, I expressed to my boss and HR department what I was planning on doing. Fortunately, they were so supportive and caring about my situation. So much so that we were able to even plan ahead and analyze potential options if things got bad. I advise you to do the same – communicate what’s happening with anyone you regularly talk or report to (boss, employees, close friends, family, yoga instructor, etc.). This will make things much easier for you down the line when things get more difficult.
Have an understanding doctor
I met my allergist at the end of my TSW process, but I wish I had met him before. I’m sure he would have supported me and opened up possible alternatives that could have possibly saved some time and pain. Do yourself a favor and learn from my mistake. Find a doctor who is understanding and happy to be on your team of supporters!
Implement healing mindset practices in the meantime
There are certain practices that I live by to help me manage my eczema alongside any treatment – meditation, journaling, and praying just to name a few. They are daily habits that bring me peace, love and joy. You can read more about how you can implement your own routine to support you alongside TSW here.
How often do you downplay your eczema to other people?