Stress: Something felt by all but experienced differently. And when I’m stressed, I’m especially prone to having a flare. The flares I have during stressful periods in my life can sometimes become a chain reaction if I’m not careful. For example, say I end up in a stressful situation at work that causes a flare. Seeing that flare makes me even more stressed, potentially causing yet another flare. You would think this might be most frustrating of all, but sometimes it’s other people’s reactions toward my condition that can be just as frustrating.
In the past, I’ve had people suggest to me that I should “just deal with eczema.”
The stigma that eczema is something that can “just be dealt with” is filled with a lack of knowledge about what eczema is and how it works.
Finding the right words to say to someone who may make comments like this can be tricky, especially if you’re caught off guard! To combat any “off-guard” shock from insensitive statements, I always keep a few scripted responses in my “back pocket,” so to speak. This helps me reduce potential, associated stress to avoid the cascading effect, while also feeling in control and confident in these awkward—sometimes unavoidable—moments.
One of my responses may sound like this, “My atopic dermatitis isn’t something that can just be ‘dealt with.’ It requires a lot of my attention. Can I explain to you what actually happens?” If that person responds with a “yes,” great. I explain that there is more to treating atopic dermatitis than “just dealing with it.”
When I discuss eczema with people, it’s important to me that I do not make myself a victim. I try my best to explain my eczema from an empowered point of view because I do not want anyone’s pity. This helps me feel confident in my skin because I have grown to know that atopic dermatitis is a part of my skin—love me or leave me.
Learning how to accept my atopic dermatitis wasn’t always easy. I used to tell myself things like, I just want different skin, or I hate my body. Why was I made this way? But guess what? These affirmations and thoughts did not make me feel any better. In fact, they made me feel 10 times worse. So be gentle with yourself. And be gentle toward your skin’s journey. You are not to blame for your eczema and there is nothing “wrong” with you—and trust me, I know there’s more to it than “just dealing.” You got this.