Eczema and Bathing Suits: The Struggle
Last year, I had the pleasure of going on vacation for the first time in 6 years. It was a beautiful time, and I am incredibly grateful for the experience. However, there were also some downsides, too.
Individuals with eczema and other skin conditions typically tend to have even more issues with insecurity than most others. Going to a hot, sunny place like the beach – well, it all has to be exposed and out in the open for everyone else to see.
Eczema and insecurities
I grew up always hating my body, to be honest. It started long before my skin began to worsen during my teenage years. I always thought I was too fat, skinny, or this or that. Like most other women, I compared myself to others and tried to fit into some beauty standards written by society. I failed to understand that beauty truly does come from within.
My fear of wearing a bathing suit
One of my biggest worries going on vacation this past year was wearing a bathing suit. It meant having so much of my skin exposed for everyone to see. I am so used to covering myself up with extra clothes and layers to hide the rashes. Somehow, I believed this hid my shame, too. It was incredibly difficult for me to wear a bathing suit, let alone go out in public on the beach where everyone would see me.
The "exposure" was bringing up huge anxiety and panic for me. I'm well aware many people feel this way, even without skin conditions. We tend to have such skewed perceptions in society of what "beauty" even means.
Hiding and isolating
However, this perception tends to be even skewed for those of us with atopic dermatitis or going through topical steroid withdrawal.
Somehow, we feel we are just not worthy enough to be out among people and in public. It's as if we are not worthy of living our lives just like everyone else does. I've spent the majority of the past 7 years hiding in my home - ashamed of my red, flaky, itchy skin. I always told myself that I'd do things "when I'm healed" – going on vacation was one of them. It was a huge deal for me to decide to go for it while still dealing with my skin instead of just putting it off.
I shouldn't have to wait
I think many of us, especially during TSW, get caught up in this mindset of just waiting. But the truth is, life is short, and we never know when it will be our last day. And we deserve to live and be seen just as much as anyone else does.
Truthfully, I didn't always struggle with this, especially at the beginning of my journey with eczema. I was fine going outside with a red, flaky face and even no hair at some point. I didn't really care what others thought of me. But as with most trauma, my cup was getting too full – to the point of overflowing, and one day my mind just started to "switch off." It started to "protect" me by having me isolated instead.
It has caused even more detriment to my mental and emotional health, as isolation in itself is so harmful for human beings. After all, we are social creatures by nature.
Facing my fears
Somehow, to my surprise, after continuing therapy and hypnotherapy, among other healing modalities, I was able to face that fear and got to go on the vacation I had craved for so long.
Despite my skin flaring up a bit afterward – it was completely worth it. I got to wear a bathing suit every day, swim in the ocean, and truly be one with mother nature. There is no feeling quite like it.
Sometimes, we just have to look our fears right in the eyes and do what we fear, despite them.
Which type of water do you prefer for swimming?