Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 922 (or 2 years, 6 months, 8 days)

It's been a while. Let's see...

I got promoted.
I moved in with my boyfriend.
We got engaged.
I lost 25 lbs.
We got married.
We went to Aruba.
(I gained 10 lbs back. Thanks all-inclusive resort with your endless drinks!)
Other random good things happened.

And for the most part...

My skin wasn't much of an issue.

I have a little redness on my neck and a spot on the inner arm and occasionally a small patch on my chin but here's what makes it different:

For the most part, I'm the one doing it.

It's not completely random like it was in the throws of TSW. It happens when I'm stressed/worried/bored and start scratching (mindless action like biting your nails). It also happens when I eat way too much junk food. I found out that my body likes the low-carb high-fat way of eating so when I ignore that and eat high-carb, my skin generally reminds me the next day.

This was not the case when I was 6 months, 1 year, 1.5 years into TSW. 

I know a lot of the traditional eczema patient literature likes to blame it on the patient ("Oh, your skin is red because you keep scratching so it can't heal! It's the itch-scratch-cycle!") and I know a lot of the TSW conversations about nutrition like to blame it all on food or needing certain vitamins ("Oh, your skin is red because you occasionally have a glass of wine and sometimes you eat Taco Bell! Here, try all these random vitamins and supplements that may vaguely be related to this!!").

I did not find either pieces of advice to be helpful during TSW. It was truly random and awful. Trying to simply "not scratch" was not an option. Trying special diets or supplements or moisturizers only to see no difference or be unable to stick with the regimen was discouraging. It was absolutely devastating to search for a cause when, in reality, flares were something that could not be controlled.

Here's where I say: This is just my experience. I know others have written about doing XYZ things and how in their opinion, it helped/hindered TSW. I know others feel worse when they seemingly sit around and do nothing. They have to try, after all. You can't just watch your house burn down with the vague hope that it will rebuild itself, right?

I understand that feeling. I felt that feeling. The "I have to do something ANYTHING." But in my experience: I could not control flares. I could try to avoid things that made my skin burn or itch more and increased the severity of the flare, but I wasn't stopping a flare that was already happening.

There was a cycle I experienced for a while:

  • There is nothing I can do about flares. Hopeless. I am stuck in this awful itchy painful red reality.
  • I must try everything I reasonably can try. Hopeful. This could be the key to unlocking my misery.
  • This thing I've been trying is not working. I'm miserable. This will never end. There is nothing I can do. Hopeless.
  • This other thing might work. I have to try it. Hopeful again!
  • It didn't work. Now I'm even worse. Hopeless.

This cycle only made a miserable situation worse. I had to get out of this cycle. I did this by:

  • Accepting that I could not control flares
  • Accepting that my body knows what to do even if it takes a long time to heal
  • Accepting that every flare is a sign that my body is healing even if it is an awful process
  • Accepting that just like ocean tides, flares would come and go
  • Accepting that this was just a season and it would eventually turn
"There is nothing I can do about flares, but I am hopeful anyway. This is not forever. This will go away."

Come Let Go by Xavier Rudd became my anthem in a way. This song helped me calm down in a flare and reminded me that this was just a season, just a wave hitting the sand before eventually going out again. "Come the wind, come the rain // Come the tide in, come the tide out again."

Now things are different. My skin no longer flares. It is different. And I don't think it's surprising that now there actually is a connection between what I do (mindless scratching, too much sugar) and my skin's appearance. That wasn't the case before. Then, there was no cause, not really. It happened or it didn't. Now I'm in a different season. Things are different. Things are better.

1 comment: