Lately, I've been really inspired by the ladies over at EczemaExcellence and pinklikeabeacon. These women been extraordinarily brave in opening up to tell the emotional side of what happens with skin conditions, so I figured I'd step up to the plate. It feels good to have other people out there who really know what you're going through, right? Back in 2009, right before my skin condition blew up... I had no idea what I was in store for. I had dealt with some bouts of seemingly random skin issues, but it always went away. Around that time, I was really getting into reading fashion magazines and having a lot more fun with my wardrobe. Sheer, ruffly tops and tight skinny jeans were my favorite things to pair with black 6 inch stilettos. I was lovin' it. I was physically confident and was having fun with it. I'm no 10/10 by any means, but at my best, I was definitely feeling good.
I didn't even have any qualms about doing things like this photo below. Free as a bird. It's been almost four years since this this was taken:
I am preeeetty far from that level of confidence right now. Just take a look in my blog's "UPDATES" section and you can see how awesomely my skin bubbles these days. Not cute.
Those designs are all marker, by the way, except for the one on my neck and the pegasus. And no, I'm not naked, in case you were wondering. I would definitely stay away from all those colored markers now, because I wouldn't want to take any chances with the chemicals in them.
So, with my long list of allergies I'm now unable to:
- have a day where I do unpredictable things - everything needs to be pre-planned so I have things like: food I'm not allergic to, cotton bedding if I'm sleeping overnight, and a place to wash my hands (with my soap I have to bring along) if I come into contact with anything. It kinda makes me feel like a burden.
- use disposable razors, which seem have the closest cut
- get waxed at a salon (getting personal, here)
- put on deodorant and have it last all day (I'm getting weird about people physically getting close to me as a result)
- wear clothing that has synthetic fabric, giving the item stretch. It makes finding the perfect LBD or even a suit for work a lot more difficult.
- wear 99.9% of the lingerie and other cute under-things out there
- wear perfume
It's definitely changed my world. I had no choice but to adjust. When my skin condition (allergic contact dermatitis) exploded, I had huge open wounds just covering my arms and legs. I couldn't even set my arms down on anything because they were oozing so much. After I found out which skin condition I had developed, I started to avoid the chemicals and food I'm allergic to as well as nickel and noticed a HUGE difference in my skin. It had vastly improved. Then, I noticed I was reacting to some 100% polyester sheets I slept on and removed synthetic fabrics from my wardrobe. After that, I noticed I was even reacting to plastic pens and laminate counter-tops (which can both have polyester in them) so I started avoiding those things as well. My skin improved even more and now my skin reactions are usually relatively small and controlled.
But I had to get rid of a LOT of things in my life. I went through some incredibly frustrated phases when I was first adjusting - I felt like my world had been taken over and I was NOT a fan of the new world. It meant not being able to hug my boyfriend too hard (if at all) when he gets home because he's wearing synthetic fabrics or something with zippers/nickel. My skin reacts RIGHT away to nickel... It also meant having to get rid of 90% of my wardrobe and ALL of my jackets and coats. And lingerie, socks and even headbands. Gone. Not fun. I've had some angry, angry days because of everything that taken away from me. And luckily, my wonderful boyfriend has stuck around through it.
Also, no more spontaneous dinner dates with friends or my hunny. Now, I have to research the restaurant online as much as I can beforehand. It's not the WORST, but it's not terribly convenient for anyone involved. I also bring plastic silverware with me because I react to most of the silverware out there - nickel, once again. And since nickel is one of my worst allergies, I can't take chances. I tried to. I really did. I went a week, seeing how it would go if I touched silverware (JUST silverware, I didn't cut out doorknobs and everything else) and it was NOT good. My fingers were quickly filled with bumps and bubbles and my palms were super itchy. It's just not worth touching the silverware.
Having to adjust to all of these changes (any many more that I haven't mentioned because that would take a long time) and finding ways to get around almost every situation gets tiring. It REALLY wears on me. I've found ways to deal with the changes such as gathering items to piece together 100% cotton outfits on my Pinterest boards, starting a new deodorant-alternative routine, and even meditation, so I'm doing my best but honestly... it takes a lot out of me when it's coupled with the daily grind. And on top of that, I just don't feel as fun and cute as I used to. Maybe that sounds dumb, but it's true. It's just ended up taking a huge hit on my confidence.
I DO, however, feel like I'm making steps toward feeling good again. Having this blog and being dedicated to searching for solutions has really helped. Seeing other blogger's stories has given me perspective and a little bit of extra support as well. As I continue to find more solutions to my daily struggles, I know things will get even easier. They have already. I've made a VAST improvement from when my skin erupted in 2009 and I've got all sorts of new routines. And I couldn't be more thankful for the doctors who figured out what was going on. I'm truly grateful.
And I will continue on my journey.
We all must persevere, right?