My Eczema and how it affected my mental health
This is a story from our customer Ying. Her story, her emotions, her experience. Some photos may be uncomfortable for some readers.
Eczema, a common skin condition where majority of the population has it but not many are aware or educated about it. Under the peer pressure of social beauty standards and instagram models that are picture perfect regardless of which angle the photo was taken, there will always be one of us that wished we could’ve be as confident in our own skin as they are while suffering with eczema.
It is not just a skin condition, it does not just look red, flaky or some might term it as “ugly markings”, it is also a lifetime of struggle with cleaning and changing bed sheets that are stained with blood, not being able to take a relaxing shower, not able to move freely and most of all, struggling to be intimate with the one you love because even just a hug that you needed so badly can be agonisingly painful.
This is my story, where eczema has not only changed my life, it changed the way I perceive hardships.
About 3 years ago, right after SPM, I started developing small lesions on my skin that were extremely itchy but I wasn’t bothered by it. As days passed, few major turn of events that happened in my family unfold upon me which caused my mental health to plummet into a downward spiral. Not only was I carrying the stigma of having mental health issues ie depression and anxiety, the stress and my inconsistent eating patterns has caused my skin to flare up even worse, to a point where exposing my skin to the air is not an option because it would really hurt.
In the beginning, I get a lot of question where people would be really shocked and ask me “Hey, what is wrong with your skin?” “Did you go to a doctor?” “Oh my god, that is really bad.” “Maybe you should try this or that”. Those were the regular conversations I have with people back then when they noticed my skin. I’ll always reply and be as nice as I possibly could. Yet, the more people ask me questions, the more I feel insecure, and the more I eat myself up mentally. I was lost because I couldn’t be like the other girls where they could wear anything and go anywhere feeling comfortable. I dread the feeling of not being able to maintain my performance as an athlete and felt useless that I can't complete majority of my training sessions.
Even then, during that time I have my boyfriend around to constantly remind me that I am still the most beautiful girl he has ever met, I was constantly ashamed when I unconsciously left blood stains and skin flakes all over his room, or needing him to reassure me when I was in extreme pain from the cuts. He tried so many ways on trying to fix my skin, and I get annoyed and impatient seeing no result, but he still put up with me through all the years hoping that I would eventually show signs of improvement in my condition, which I did.
My condition persisted until June 2019, two months after I decided to go back to university and pursue a higher education. Maybe it could be the stress, it could be the environment, it could be me feeling that deep down I am not doing what I am set out for, but my skin was constantly infected and I could still remember the way my arms and legs smell, its like open wounds with puss, it was horrible and agonising. No idea how I survived with it knowing that at that time I lived every day considering to end my own life and whatever pain that I am feeling at that time. The thing about eczema, it doesn’t just hurts physically, It hurts you mentally, it hurts the people around you, it hurts your perception of yourself and your will to keep living.
During that time my relationship with my mom wasn’t as good as it is now, we were both struggling with our own issues, where she live every day thinking why she got married to a man that is irresponsible, while I live everyday wondering why do I have to put up with my dad, with my skin, with people around me that are a bunch of self absorbed narcissists. Then I was sent to the hospital, having to be admitted for a week because the infection got really bad.
For that seven days that felt like an eternity, I felt lost, and also appreciative to those who visited me, especially my boyfriend who would visit me every day and accompany me for hours and hours to make sure I don’t feel lonely and scared. I felt like I wasn’t there during that duration of stay possibly because I spent majority of the time sleeping and recovering but also it felt like I skipped something. When I was discharged, I went home and showered, and for the first time, I felt no stinging pain, I can move my arms freely, and of course I cried, a lot, because I didn’t know what or how to feel, because I never thought that I could possibly improve my condition.
Although now it is still not completely healed, I am still under treatment fo prevent any further complications. As I mentioned, as much as it hurts, having eczema did made a change on how I view things. Beautiful doesn’t mean anything if you’re not kind, I have people telling me every single day on how my scars would affect my ability to find a partner, or even the ability to find a job and honestly that is such an old fashioned and inconsiderate mentality where you judge someone based on what they look like or illness that they have, majority of the population are not even educated in regards to mental health and skin issues and you’d be surprised that the amount of correlation that these two have with each other.
My advice to those who are currently suffering from severe eczema, go get medical attention from a good dermatologist, and stay on the treatment even if it may look like there is no progress being made, it will be for the better.
Thank you again to Ying, IG @heatherwolfgirl for sharing this story with us. If you suffer from this condition, anxiety or depression, feel free to reach out to us and we can direct you to the appropriate channels that can help you.
You can also head on to MMHA for resources and help . MMHA is our beneficiary of the year, a portion of our profits goes to aiding their missions.