Three birds on a wire are ignoring another sad and isolated bird that's molting feathers.

Eczema and the Alienation It Brings

If you're unlucky enough to have been inflicted with a chronic disease, then you will be all too aware of how destructive it can be. Living with atopic dermatitis has certainly taken its toll where maintaining relations are concerned. I was with my ex for eleven years and we were both unfortunate in that we were burdened with two very different conditions. Obviously, I had eczema and she had OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).

She had a burning desire to vacuum every five minutes and I was constantly shedding skin. Quite a comical situation if the harsh truth wasn't so cruel. We did our best to try and make it work but in the end, we decided it would be best to separate.

Eczema can effect all relationships

My eczema has alienated friends, too. I don't mean that people have walked away not wanting to socialize with me. The alienation is more subtle than that. I can be on a night out and all of a sudden have a flare-up. It's normally my eyes that start itching first, then face and neck. Friends have seen me struggle with this condition all my life.  So, when a situation like this occurs, it's almost as if my struggle is not seen. It's just a normal characteristic of Pete.

Not feeling like a part of the group

The subtle alienation I speak of is that when a flare-up does happen, you're not part of the group conversation anymore. You're not present. It's not a conscious effort to exclude on their part. Sub-consciously, they are letting me sort myself out without interfering which, in one sense is brilliant. I'm not being shouted at to stop itching. In another sense, it's awful because my condition forces me to have to deal with it there and then and as a consequence, you push people away.

Sometimes my friends will acknowledge my flare-up. They'll say, "Itchy?", in a rhetorical tone accompanied with dead eyes. I'm not saying I want heaps of attention, in fact, the reverse is true. I'd be just like them if the boot was on the other foot, I'm sure. All I'm doing is making an observation of how living with eczema can be a very lonely thing. And it makes everyone feel helpless.

Hints & tips

There are possible solutions to avoid the sense of alienation, especially when at social gatherings. If possible, try not to drink alcohol or sugary drinks. I try to stick to sparkling water or lime and soda. This reduces the likelihood of having a flare. If you really want to drink, a Vodka tonic is normally okay for me. Try to regulate your temperature; don't wear too many layers. Take an anti-histamine before going out and where possible, avoiding hot stuffy, crowded places will be a plus!

As for any hints or tips regarding relationships where potential partners are concerned...I'm still trying to work that one out. Living with someone or even dating someone is a far more complex situation. I wish there was an easy answer but it might just be down to the simple fact of meeting the right person. who knows?

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