Reaching A Turning Point In Talking About My Eczema
Solo traveling for the past year with eczema, I have had many adventures and learned life lessons along the way. While solo traveling might not be an experience possible for everyone going through eczema, I hope that the lessons that I share about reacting to others who point out or ask about your eczema in this article will still be relevant and useful for you.
Frustrations with misunderstanding eczema
I visited Nadi, Fiji last February 2018 and I felt like I had a breakthrough in my experience explaining what my eczema flare-ups are to others. In the past, and even in past YouTube videos on my Eczema Phoenix channel, I have expressed a very strong defensiveness and anger towards people who question my skin who don't have eczema or ever had eczema themselves. I thought, “How could they even relate to what I'm going through?” It’s so easy to give advice and think that you know what to do when your skin is just fine and it never had to go through highly sensitive, reactive skin conditions like eczema.
But at this point in my life, with me taking the plunge and making my 11-year dream of solo traveling to the South Pacific and visiting my dream destination of New Zealand 3 months prior to Fiji, gave me so much more confidence in myself and my ability to protect and take care of myself. This newfound courage and confidence opened me up to learning new things about the world and how to continue to expand my mind and my perception of what I thought I knew about myself, eczema, and how life can play out.
"What's wrong with your neck?"
In Fiji, I visited during their thunderstorm season which was quite literally the hottest season of the year as well as the most humid because of all the thunderstorms. This combination of weather patterns caused me to sweat up a storm of my own and I found my neck and collar flaring up for the first time with prickly heat rash. My Airbnb hostess bluntly asked me what was wrong with my neck and for the first time in my life, I did not feel angry or defensive when asked that question. And she was super direct. She even had a scowl on her face which would usually kill me a little bit on the inside out of embarrassment and shame of not having more control over my skin before.
But, for some reason instead of closing up or talking back, a part of me with my more open-hearted receptivity, I found myself completely getting where she was coming from and also understood that she probably did not realize how rude she was coming off. I found myself giving her the benefit of the doubt. And in fact, I could even empathize with her and appreciate that she cared enough to ask instead of sweeping it under the rug or pretending that she wasn't seeing something as concerning as she was seeing.
I was actually thankful that she spoke up out of concern for me and secure within myself and my ability to heal once I got out of that humid climate that I would be okay. That this confrontation wasn’t the end of the world and going to lead to a melodramatic argument or me completely breaking down and trying to hide from the unwanted attention. And this was not a conscious move. It was just something that happened organically. Also, maybe all the sweating just exhausted me so much that I was too tired to get angry or defensive anyway. Who knows? Either way, it happened, so maybe it was meant to happen and in that way for me.
It's all about delivery
I still stand behind the things that I said in the past when I said them before about people not really having a right to demand answers to questions we might not have our heads wrapped around yet (like what causes or heals our rashes or why our skin is so reactive). And that is still not fair to not be considerate of the person with sensitive skin’s feelings if you’re going to be blunt. I still believe that there needs to be a gentleness and acceptance that is demonstrated if you're going to confront someone about their appearance no matter what. But, I have to say, it's amazing to be in a different place with this kind of topic in my life now.
I hope as I continue to travel, I will be able to break down how exactly I got to this place emotionally and share that with others so that they can also experience true peace and confidence when put on the spot like this and have a graceful way to respond that maintains their sense of dignity. When I figure this out, I will be sure to share it with you here first on AtopicDermatitis.net.
Thank you for reading and I hope that this article gave you some comfort and hope! What are your thoughts on this kind of topic? How do you usually respond to people who confront you about your skin? Please comment below with your answers and ideas!
On an average day, how would you rate your level of anxiety related to atopic dermatitis?