The Power in Your Story
Up until this point, when people ask me how can they start healing their eczema, I respond, “by sharing your story with others.” I truly believe that what supported me in healing my eczema 4 years ago was opening up and speaking about it.
Curiosity led the way
There was a time along my health journey where I felt completely helpless and defeated. It was Fall of 2014 and I had been experiencing one of the worst flares of my adult years. After days of constant itching and rashes from head to toe, I said, “enough is enough.” My frustration led to curiosity as I began to wonder about eczema from an outside perspective. I wanted to know every detail – who it effects, how does one get it, existing treatments, foods that may spike it, you name it.
Eczema google search
So for the very first time in my life, I googled “eczema.” I was shocked by the loads of information that already existed. “Why didn’t I do this search years ago?” I asked myself repeatedly. I came across personal blogs, articles, news, books and more all geared towards eczema. It felt like Christmas to me!
There was hope
All of this information brought me a sense of hope and ease. I had grown up believing that I was the only one in the world with this skin condition. In just this one search, I realized I was not alone. In fact, there were 31 million of us living in the United States with eczema.
An inspiring eczema warrior
I specifically came across an eczema blogger by the name of Jennifer Hall. Aside from her eczema, we shared a lot of similarities: age, skin tone, and scars. I thought, “Wow! How courageous is she for sharing her journey and photos showing her flares!” I had never seen or read about anyone openly and publically sharing their eczema story. She was fearless, inspiring, and an example of what’s possible when we share our story.
Find the courage
I wanted to make the impact that Hall made on me. I wanted to pop up after someone’s Google search. I wanted to be the hope that many eczema warriors lack. I wanted to be the example of “You can do it too!”
The post that changed everything
Two years after coming across Hall’s blog, I remember holding my phone in my hands and hesitating. It was 2016 and I was about to press “Share” on my social media post, which contained a picture exposing my eczema and a long caption explaining the impact it had on my life.
It was the first time I was going public with my skin condition. At that time and throughout my life, only a few family and friends knew about my eczema. Even then, they didn’t even know its bearing effects on me mentally and socially. I began questioning myself. “What will people think of me? Will they think I’m ugly? Will they be disgusted? Will I be accepted?”
Do it anyways
I thought “Oh, what the heck! If I want to make the impact on others that Jennifer Hall made on me, I need to share my story.” The risk of being vulnerable was greater than my fear. So I did it anyway.
The response I received was overwhelming. People were beyond loving and accepting - something I deeply hoped for but was unsure if it would happen. Some even noted that they or someone they knew suffered from eczema too. They encouraged me and acknowledged me for being courageous, the same way I acknowledged Jennifer Hall when I came across her blog. At that moment, I realized how much people loved me for me; my eczema did not change that.
This was a major breakthrough for me because I finally allowed myself to be fully seen. I decided that I was no longer going to hide behind my long sleeve shirts, scarves, makeup, and four walls. By allowing other people to see me vulnerable and authentically, and receive love anyways, I was no longer afraid to share my journey.
Turn an obstacle into an opportunity
Without realizing it, this moment would be the seed to becoming an eczema patient advocate. I would have never thought that I would be making a career out of something that caused me so much pain and discomfort throughout my life. And it has been the best decision I could have ever made.
Advocating for eczema warriors
In just two years of sharing my post, I have been on the cover of three health magazines, have partnered up with different organizations including the National Eczema Association, and have worked with doctors and leading health professionals in changing the dynamic of their relationship with eczema. Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to be the pioneer of many projects that are in the works to benefit the eczema community.
Power of your voice
This is the power our voices can make. When we come together and lead by example, we create change. If it weren’t for eczema warriors like Jennifer Hall who openly shared her story years before “eczema” became known to the general public, you probably wouldn’t be reading this. I wouldn’t have learned the tools that she taught me, which created a ripple effect of me being healthy now.
Know that you’re not alone. Find courage. Do it anyway, despite any fears and doubts you may have. And turn your obstacle into an opportunity. It’s time to share your story!
Looking for a place to share your story with eczema (your diagnosis journey, a bad flare, a time you felt frustrated, embarrassed or judged, etc.)? Click here!
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