Living With Eczema

Living With Eczema

I've kept this draft in my blog for days and I was debating between publishing or deleting it. The thing is, this post might sound like nothing other than me going on a rant about my stressful life with eczema. I don't really like exposing myself too much on the internet, let alone my emotion but a part of me says whatever, I'm going to rant on my blog and nobody is going to forbid me for it and I guess that sassy little part of me won or else you won't be reading this right now.

A little backstory of my life (the longer version can be read here): I was born with psoriasis or at least, that's what my doctor told me. I grew up applying ointments and using medicated products and believe me when I tell you that medicated soap and shampoo smell horrible and left my hair feeling dry and frizzy and just blergh. Fast forward to me growing up, my psoriasis began to diminish and I thought yes, finally! I can have normal skin! but nooo, that dream is far beyond my reach because soon after, I experienced dry, red patches and rashes which turn out to be ecze-feckin-ma. Hooray for me and my stupid skin condition and bye bye to clean, smooth skin that can only happen in my dream.

Don't call me an arrogant poser

You see, not only is eczema frustrating because they are so goddamn itchy and make me scratch like a flea-infected cat, they also took an emotional toll on me. I felt disgusting and dirty, felt embarrassed to see myself in the mirror, felt like I could never tell anyone that I am such a high maintenance person who requires specific hygiene products and a crap ton of body lotions, creams and butters and corticosteroid ointments. The maintenance to an extremely dry, sensitive and eczema-prone skin is not cheap. The items we have to use are never cheap, at least not in where I live. For instance, a Cetaphil product can cost me $22-30 / each, no matter if it's the Cetaphil skin cleanser or the moisturizing cream. Another example is how difficult it is to find an all-natural ingredient product in the market, be it a body wash or shampoo or whatever and even if there's any, you can bet that it's not cheap. To make matter worse, people born with eczema experience flare-ups caused by different triggers. For me, it's most probably the sulfate in my body wash. No matter how moisturizing a commercial body wash is, if the product contains sulfate, I can bet that it's going to trigger my eczema. Believe it or not, the Johnson's baby milk + rice bath triggers my eczema because it contains sodium laureth sulfate, aha!

Growing up, I was advised by my mom to not tell anyone about my psoriasis or eczema. I was told that people are not going to accept me if I were to talk about my skin condition. The unfortunate thing is I believed in it. I never told anyone that I am a loyal subscriber of eczema, that I have dry patches on my body or my knees because I was embarrassed. It's like living in hiding and I grew up hating it. It felt like I was pretending to be normal when in fact, I'm not. It doesn't help that some people think I'm such an elite wanna-be poser because they see me being extremely picky about my products: "oh my god, why do you have to spend so much on a body wash? Why do you only use body butters from The Body Shop? Aren't they expensive? Why can't you use any body lotion from the drugstore? Why do you spend so much? You sure love to splurge, don't you? Blah blah blah..."

Okay, here's the thing: I cannot just use "any product" no matter how much I wanted to. I don't like spending $18 on a body butter all the freaking time. Sure, The Body Shop body butters smell amazing but I'm unemployed and I don't poop money so $18 for a body butter is not cheap. But you see, I refuse to be blamed for the product that my skin loves. I have tried a more budget-friendly Vaseline body lotion and guess what, it didn't work. Don't tell me to try out Cetaphil because like I said, that thing ain't cheap.

I'm not sure which one is worse: the fact that strangers think they know everything that is going on in my life or the fact that I suffer mental breakdowns from time to time because I feel like I'm one of the reasons my parents have to spend so much for my needs. The number of times I went from one dermatologist to the next was uncountable, let alone the list of products I have tried in my lifetime. For example, I remember trying out Sebamed and it doesn't feckin work even though it's supposedly good for dry, sensitive skin. I don't remember when was the last time I went to a dermatologist but I've stopped seeing one and now I'm doing my own research and testing out different products that might work for me.

One of the worse things...

...that I have to endure, other than how people who don't understand what it's like to live with eczema, is how my mother complains about how she has to spend so much for my needs. I remember her saying this, and I quote, "wow, you have so much needs and you keep buying stuff for your skin and it's expensive!" Alright, to some of you, I might sound like I'm overreacting but I'm not gonna lie and say her words did not stuck with me because they do and it makes me feel extremely guilty even though I have no control over this. I remember the day she said that to me and when I told my boyfriend about it, I burst into tears and I was so overwhelmed by guilt and hatred directed to myself. I still burst into tears and suffer mental breakdowns every now and then whenever I see new flare-ups but that's another story to tell.

I understand why my parents think like that, though. A part of me wants to understand but another part of me feels angry about it. It angers me so much when people judge us who are born with chronic eczema, call us posers for being extremely picky about even the most basic needs. This may sound selfish but hey, if you don't understand what it's like to experience itchy flare-ups and painful blisters and permanent skin hyperpigmentation, you don't get to dictate us who have to endure everything. It's not only the economical aspect that frustrates some of us, it's also the emotional toll that destroys our confidence from within so please, before you judge someone for their spending, you might as well ask politely the reason why. In fact, it's a good lesson in general to not judge people based on their spending.

What I have learned...

I have learned that I'm not the only one who has to go through my life living with constant, chronic eczema. I have learned that other people might in fact have worse eczema than me (because mine is definitely mild and not the worst even though it's chronic). I have learned that other people get eczema patches on their face, which luckily is something that has never happened to me before. I have learned that it's okay to have eczema (or psoriasis, even) and it's okay to be open about it. So what if I can only use certain products? I don't care if people are going to be a biatch about it and call me an arrogant poser because they don't understand the itch and pain and the embarrassment that comes along with it.

Now, I'm not saying that I have fully gain my confidence because let's face it, insecurity is a self-growing virus inside our mind and it will always find a way to destroy us from inside out. As I'm typing this, I'm still on a learning path to accept my skin for what it is. It still annoys me from time to time and I'm still an embarrassed ugly duckling every time I see my naked reflection but I'm willing to learn and be more accepting. In fact, my best friend and boyfriend don't give a damn if I have eczema because to them, it's me they want to hang out with, regardless of my skin condition.