When your skin is covered in rashes that look like they could be the result of a bacterial infection, it’s very hard to feel proud of yourself. At least that was my experience growing up. My years of childhood, being a teenager, and a young adult in my twenties are some of the hardest years for me to remember. They were years filled with the uncertainty of what my skin was going through and if it would ever fully recover or improve. And on top of that were the feelings of uncertainty, insecurity, and low self-esteem from just being young and unsure of what my future would hold. Who would I become as an adult? Would I even be competent enough as an adult? Would I even make it to adulthood?
Feeling insecure and uncertain
These were all of the types of questions that constantly ran through my head every time I got a disgusted look from a stranger (especially cashiers who had to see you in close proximity), a judgmental comment from my mom, or even just looked myself in the mirror, horrified at the ever-changing progression of my rashes. Panic was a close companion during this time and every time a new rash appeared or an old one spread out to a bigger size. It was very depressing. And I do believe that I had severe depression from the age of 5 to 20 which came off as sarcasm and enjoying goth culture (although, I didn’t wear black makeup because of my sensitive skin).
I just didn’t want to be me.
Finding outlets to cope
I often daydreamed about strong heroines who fought valiantly in Medieval Times and I would write short stories and poems about them and their strength. I pretended that I was them and that I embodied all of their power and strength. Little did I realise that I was using creative writing as a way to channel my pain and invoke the power of Amazonians and female warriors because living in my skin every day felt like going into battle and I was just trying to do everything I could to keep my composure and not repulse others with a major, bloody itchfest. Although I was in a lot of pain, I still had a lot of pride and already feeling so weak, did not want to look even weaker.
Daily dose of art and writing
Some people use drugs and substances to escape and have out of body experiences. I used my vivid imagination and the written word to transcend my pain. To pretend that I was an Amazonian or Medieval Knight gave me hope because I thought that if I could feel that strength, I could one day have it in real life. And using art and creativity to turn my turmoil into a talent, my chaos in order was a very integral way for me to deal with the shame of having eczema.
I hope that reading this article will inspire you or someone you know with eczema to find a creative outlet for their pain and to turn their feelings of feeling ugly to things of beauty.