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From the Top

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Welcome to the beginning of my Eczema section. If you are reading this I'm assuming you probably know a bit about me already from my little get to know me page, but for those of you who want to dive deeper into this skin journey of mine, Welcome. Welcome to this safe space where I want to share my experiences, skin struggles, learning curves but most importantly a guide in which will hopefully help you through similar issues and let you know that it is ok.

It will get better.

BUT... right before I begin I want you to take a deep breath, relax your worries and please focus your mind on owning your insecurities, own what makes you unique and stronger because why should we have to feel insecure in ourselves? So many people say to me "oh beauty lies from within", but damn girl I wanna feel beautiful on the outside too. So before I dive into my own struggles, just know that you are beautiful and sexy regardless of how your skin is presented.

Growing Up

I want to start this blog off by sharing my journey. Throughout my life I generally had flare ups of Eczema. Now as a child it wasn't that big of an issue, my skin was something that I didn't think effected me to a great extent, yet it was constantly stirring trouble in the back of my mind. It's like this, I am comfortable in who I am but there is this thing that seems to bother me and let me down by questioning my existence saying "I'm not really normal am I?" Being diagnosed with anything from a young age is like having this trauma hanging over your head, this diagnosis that you have to battle with from time to time. Don't get me wrong I could manage it and it most definitely came in waves but as a child overhearing other kids saying "what is on the backs of her legs?" and "why does she look like that?", it does effect your confidence and self-esteem. It wasn't only until recently that I have actually acknowledged that my past insecurities and experiences have effected how I feel about myself today. I really think that recognising your past and truly reflecting on it is how you move on in the future. Now if somebody said this to me even last year I would have said "no I had a really positive childhood and I really didn't have any major issues that could lead to deep self-judgment", but it wasn't until I really focused in on where this stemmed from that I started to notice hidden sadness and judgement within. I felt like I was different and that I had no right to be doing activities where the backs of my legs were showing, where as in reality I had just as much of a right as any other child there. Although this was all going on inside my head, I never even talked about it with anyone. I didn't let my insecurities be heard because that would make them real. They wouldn't be inside my head anymore they would be out there and other people would draw attention to it. So it's not like a simple solution of asking for help because I just wanted to pretend it wasn't there. I was always playing sports when I was younger, juggling them all. I would have 1-2 activities on each evening after school between gymnastics, camogie, ballet and I think I even started GAA at one point, but to be honest I have tried to block out all the negative memories from these sports and therefore had an overall positive experience. Now don't get me wrong, I remember I would go through times of having to wear shorts for matches or wear my leotard for competitions and I would be dreading that moment days before it even happened, the nerves of competing honestly didn't compare to the nerves of having to show off my skin. I remember before every camogie match I always hoped it would get cancelled and if it ever did I would try to hide the relief I felt. Do you know what the saddest part about all this is? I think back to my skin back then and it wasn't even half as bad as I had pictured it.

The reality is people are going to judge, and it might not necessarily be with harm, it may be with curiosity but it is in human nature to observe and question your surroundings and that is ok.

I think understanding this is a huge part of growth because with this information you quickly learn that it is through the confidence within yourself that you will be able to live the self-fulfilled life you have always dreamed of.

It can get Worse before it gets Better

So in terms of my skin that was pretty much my childhood summed up very briefly. Fast forward to 'the terrible teens', well let's just say I soon figured out how perfect that name actually fit. I wouldn't say I really struggled too much in school with friends, just like anyone else I fell in and out of friend groups but found friends I'll always be grateful to have had. Now these years actually really affected how I viewed myself. When you're a teenager 'slagging' is just another way to communicate, it's like you're growing with these insecurities and the only way to make yourself feel remotely better about them is to pick out insecurities of others and don't you know we love to gossip, we love to talk about others. My mum always said 'if someone is being mean to you, they're just jealous of you" and although I tried to think about that and not let other people's opinions get in my head it's really not as simple as saying oh they're just jealous of me, especially when you feel like there's nothing to be jealous about. I have a twin sister so I was always and am lucky to have someone who is there for me through thick and thin but I have one core memory, it was the start of the school year, I had been away on holidays for a good chunk of the Summer so I had built up a bronzy tan all over except for the backs of my legs where they remained pigmented due to the eczema I had been struggling with throughout the Summer. I was already quite nervous to start school and to wear a skirt because of this but I still I wore it, I fought the little people in my head telling me not to, which was tough but I did it. It was that day where Shifra (my twin) overheard a girl saying "she's wearing fake tan, look it's all blotchy". Now I can't lie that felt like a kick in the stomach, like the air decided to just be winded out of my lungs, but do you know what I powered through, hid the sadness, continued to wear that skirt, but I guess underneath all that it stirred a lot of emotions inside of me. Imagine hyping yourself up to go do something and the moment you walk through the gates conquering them insecurities you're blasted with the fear you basically tried to overcome. There is another difficult memory that I have where I used to get eczema on my forehead and it was like a dry, red rash right where I couldn't even hide it. I remember getting slagged for having this rash on my forehead and was told it looked like 'hay'. I used to laugh it off, trying to be in on the joke but HAY, REALLY? When life gives you lemons make lemonade, but how can I make lemonade when all I had was hay? School wasn't all bad though, these things can happen but it's how you take it and learn from it that truly influences you as a person.

Now here goes the rough part, around the time I started college was when the worst of it took place but I will dive into this section a lot deeper in the future as this time of my life is where I truly learnt a lot about myself and my skin.I t was approximately one and a half to two years ago when my eczema took a turn for the worst. This was no doubt the toughest thing I have had to go through to date. I remember as I started college it just got harder and harder to deal with, I didn't get my first choice to study which was Primary Teaching so I wound up in Nursing for a 4 year college degree which I had absolutely NO INTEREST in. I felt only negative feelings towards the college I was in, I thought it was too big, I struggled to make friends and overall really found it a stressful period of time in my life. The minute I started I just felt as though I did not want to take this path. So I didn't, with support from my mum and dad I withdrew from Nursing and applied to Montessori Teaching which was much more along the path of where I wanted to land in the future. Although this was a relief for me and I was happy to start this new chapter, my skin was progressively getting worse and worse. Which was once eczema on the backs of my legs and creases of my arms, was now starting to spread all over my body. It went from not wanting to wear shorts to wanting to cover my body from head to toe. I didn't mention my skin getting bad to anyone during this period and just got on with it but I remember starting my new college degree so upset with myself and in how I felt when I should have had that twinkle in my eye striving for this new opportunity and success. I was half way into this degree, around January 2022 when I couldn't handle the pain anymore, I couldn't handle living in a state where every movement, every embrace, every little part of my life caused me pain. I would buy Hydrocortisone Cream secretly every couple of weeks, and wouldn't tell my parents as I knew it wasn't the safest option and I would apply it to my entire body hoping it would get rid of it but this was temporary. My skin was raw red from head to toe and I wish I could share pictures with you all from back then but I couldn't even look in the mirror without crying never mind have them there to see on my phone. I remember the day I looked for help.

I asked my dad if he could give me some of this oil he used for his skin, Neem Oil and I applied it to my entire body and just like that my skin started flaring up, like my body was on fire, it was burning, I was screaming in pain and my family felt helpless. I had a cold shower while they tried to comfort me but it was at this moment that we decided this needed to change. We booked an appointed with an Ayurvedic Doctor and she helped me change my diet, take food supplements and do a liver detox which although was very tough on my body, helped my skin tremendously in only 3 weeks which was just in time from my boyfriend's debs. This picture is of when I went 'shopping for my debs dress. I dreaded this day for weeks and put it off for as long as possible but it had to be done. My skin in this is on the way to recovery but I didn't want to look at myself in that mirror, I didn't want to see myself in a dress I should feel beautiful in. Now my skin did get a lot better from this point on and although it didn't clear fully for the debs, I had my skin in a state where I felt more comfortable than I had in a long time. I unfortunately decided to stop taking my supplements and to stop following my diet soon after I started seeing progress which I remember months later saying to the doctor I was seeing, (Raj is her name), how much I regretted stopping this lifestyle and I attempted to go back on it but I didn't keep it up. Summer came, I started going away to the sun for periods of time which cleared up my skin incredibly, but my skin was like this viscous cycle.

If I don't treat my body with respect and health it doesn't fail to take it out on my skin!

At this stage I decided to completely stir my life up once again and enrolled in Communication Studies which is a 3 year degree. Once again I struggled to make friends, struggled to enjoy the experience, I found that I couldn't immerse myself in college at all really. I started college feeling as though I was on the right track until I actually started and my skin actively got worse and I was in the worst state of mind I had ever been in, the pain, the insecurities, the lack of enjoyment I had for life, it all just didn't feel worth it anymore. This picture is of me starting college and I find it so hard to look at picture's from this time because I look so happy and from an outside perspective why would anyone ever think there was something wrong? I closed myself off to friends and family, nobody knew what was wrong with me and I was hurting relationships with people I love as I was so unhappy and so agitated all the time. I will go into more depth about this subject in the future but my skin put a hold on my happiness, it effected my physical health, my mental health, it was something that although it doesn't have to to be this way, it made me so miserable.

I couldn't take it anymore, so I can safely say that on the 30th of December 2022, the day before my 20th birthday, my life has been slowly moving forward as I decided to conquer life and it's many challenges.

On this day I decided to tell my mum how I was feeling, how I didn't want it to be my birthday and how I didn't want to suffer anymore. "How is it fair that I have to go through this, this constant pain, the feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, being 20 years old and dreading the day ahead when I should be living up my most cherished years? Why me?"

Well if only I realised back then how far I would come, how these challenges would make me so much stronger, so much happier and so much more appreciative of life and living.

My mum and I made a pact that on my 21st birthday I will have the best day, and that I will never have to go through what I went through on my 20th birthday for my next. So here I am only 8 months later, happier than I have been in a long time. From cleansing my diet, finding an incredible Naturopath, understanding how to nourish my skin naturally, deciding to take my first solo sun trip, understanding how to heal my emotional pain, figuring out how to love myself and others in a way I haven't been able to in a long time and most importantly learning how to live again and find my happiness again whilst seeing my skin glow from the inside.

So ye.. I can admit I have come a long way, it has been a journey, one that I am excited to share with you in the hopes that it will not only help you on any skin journey you are going through but also on your journey through life. I hope you like this brief reflection on my past as my first ever post but please subscribe for more content like this and to help my little page grow and grow! Thank you for reading!

Please remember that it does get better and you will come out of this stronger than ever!

Keep your head up,

Ella x

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