A red, inflamed hand itching the other while flowers sprout from the arm where the skin has healed.

Eczema, Shame, and Remission

Last updated: August 2022

I honestly was starting to wonder if it would ever happen to me. However, the realizations I was left to grapple with around my own remission experience have been…well, complicated.

Remission.

I would hear about others experiencing it, and, if I’m being honest, there was always a twinge of envy behind the still genuine congratulatory feelings. Of course, if questioned, I would readily deny it. Not that I would ever be questioned about such things, of course.

My inner dialogues

The mind loves to consider strange hypothetical situations sometimes.

Staging scenes in which I am confronted directly for my shortcomings in my thoughts or actions that reflect the parts of my mind and behavior that I don’t want to acknowledge. I am grateful for one aspect of my sometimes hyperbolic inner dialogues. That is that these dialogues have often led me to more profound levels of self-awareness. Or at least my ego likes to think so.

Clear skin means freedom

There is an underlying taboo with feeling anything close to envy or jealousy. We’re not ‘supposed to.’ The twinge of envy when someone achieves your goal, and you still haven’t. When someone gets to have something you yearn for but cannot reach yet. Those types of experiences suck. Especially when the thing being envied or coveted is something as understandable as living without discomfort. Because who wouldn’t want that? Eczema is (pardon my language) a living hell at times. It permeates into every part of life. At least it did in mine. It decided what I could do or not do. Where I could or could not go. It even decided what I could or could not wear.

Vocalizing the toll of eczema

When a medical condition controls that much of your life, it's hard to ignore. None of us are strangers to the emotional toll of eczema. It affects professional relationships and personal ones without distinction. Admitting the extent of these feelings and the stressors eczema places on connecting with other humans can be risky. Someone might chime in with the ol’ “it's all about your perspective” message of support.

Certainly, In some cases, this is true. However, it seems ignorant when stated in situations such as when I was worried about developing antibiotic resistance. I had to take antibiotics for the third time in a month because I could not seem to control my night scratching, which spiraled into yet another skin infection that became multisystemic. These types of experiences are not supposed to be recurring events. Yet that is what happened. All thanks to my eczema.

A lifelong endeavor

I know that being able to understand and accept my emotions and my experiences around my diagnosis of eczema is likely to be a lifelong endeavor. My feelings around it will ebb and flow, just like remission periods. I had to accept that I was not 'bad' just because I felt envy at seeing peers experiencing remission. I realized shame was an option, not a requirement. I also realized my own experience of remission is okay to celebrate. I could still take the win even while feeling shameful for being envious. I even concluded it is still okay to feel shame even though I understood the feeling of shame is illogical and unhelpful in terms of expanding my happiness.

It was hard to accept that both of these emotions coexist and are valid. We are such complicated beings, us humans. Especially us humans with eczema.

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