At possibly the worst time in a young woman’s life to develop a chronic skin disorder, I developed eczema at the age of 18 and have suffered with it ever since.
I say suffer because I do. I’m not over exaggerating. When I explain to people I’d rather lose a foot than have eczema, I honestly mean it.
Imagine scratching yourself non stop until blood drips onto your bed sheets. Imagine having sex and then not being able to cuddle afterwards because your skin is in so much pain. Imagine having to hoover your bed because there’s so much shedding skin. Imagine having to go home early from a night out just to sleep the itchiness off. Imagine crying because you’re trapped in a body that isn’t yours.
Obviously this isn’t just your regular eczema. This is severe eczema but either way, it gets in the way of fucking everything.
I’ve written about coming to terms with the way I look, which is something we all have to do. However, coming to terms with the fact I have eczema is incredibly difficult. If it wasn’t for the way it looked, I would happily deal with the pain but coming to terms with the fact I have gouged my arms for 30 seconds of satisfaction is a mixture of embarrassment and anger.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Yeah, I would be attractive if it wasn’t for my skin.” Honestly, if it wasn’t for my skin I would feel like the most beautiful person alive. Which, I guess, is a good thing, having eczema has made me appreciate how beautiful I really am. If it wasn’t for my eczema, I wouldn’t appreciate what I do have but unfortunately I’ve found myself on repeat… “If it wasn’t for my eczema…”.
I am constantly looking at other people’s skin wishing I had theirs, wondering if they have ever thought to themselves, “Wow, I have such beautiful skin, I am so lucky.” Only 5% of adults have eczema and for some unknown reason, I am that 5% and worse than that mine is a HELLA lot of eczema.
The trouble is, scratching feels so fucking good, and when I tell you it feels better than an orgasm, you better believe me. Whenever I’m stressed or upset, I scratch because it makes me feel better however five minutes later I find myself in tears because I’ve basically ripped myself apart.
This constant cycle is agonising and quite frankly miserable but despite all this, I have my good days. Days where I wake up in a little less pain than the day before, days where my legs aren’t burning and days where my arms look a little less pink.
My eczema is currently covering 90% of my body but you know what? It’s slowly improving and that’s all that matters – I’m always going to have eczema but I’m just having a bad patch right now. My mum recently told me to always remember “tomorrow is a new day”, so despite the fact I woke up this morning with a neck covered in scratches, tomorrow it will have improved. Plus, who doesn’t love turtlenecks?
I decided to call this piece ‘not my skin’ because it’s not. It doesn’t define me and I refuse to let it take over my life – even though I let it most of the time. The purpose of this post was to look at the positives despite all of the negatives. Looking at my skin is like looking at my flaws: weak, obsessive and unable to say no. But let’s look around the skin – I’m still attractive, I love my body, I love my hair, I love my face, I love my fashion and I love being naked.
I figure the only way I’m going to be happy is coming to terms with the fact I have eczema and not letting it get in the way of things I want to do. Yes, some days it will get in the way and I’ll barely be able to move and that’s not my fault but when I’m having a better day, I need to make the most of it, like doing a photoshoot.
I’ve always wanted to do an intimate photoshoot – so this is about as intimate as it gets. It’s shit, it really is, but hey, I still look pretty good!
SIDE NOTE: If you think your eczema is worsening, burning, unable to control or looking abnormal please visit http://www.itsan.org, there is a highly likely chance you’re addicted to corticosteroids. I haven’t used steroids in nine months and am convinced I am still suffering the consequences.