Finding The Beauty: Reframing Life with Eczema

Most people do not realize that our skin is our largest organ. It constantly faces the world, serving as our porous, vital connection to it.

Those of us navigating eczema know how precious this barrier is when contemplating every aspect of our lives. There is no escaping it. Whether it’s wearing long sleeves on a hot summer day, packing a second bag solely for special emollients, or skipping out on a spa session because there is no certainty if those pampering treatments will cause our skin to flare, it is painfully exhausting. Moreover, it is isolating.

Right now, in this heat I am experiencing, my body is broken out in rashes. I was meant to be running with a social group, enjoying sweet company, but my wants are placed in the backseat. My skin, once again, gets to schedule the itinerary of my day no matter how well I treat her.

This can create a bifurcation: ourselves against our skin. The “me” we wish to be and the “me” we have to be. We negotiate with our textured skin in the mirror. We whisper prayers to the universe before bed. We down green concoctions that are marketed as wonderful remedies. And when none of this works, it’s hard not to feel angry or defeated.

But, much like the seasons change, so do our circumstances. Our skin ebbs and flows. She may have patterns in her mischief, but her customization may never cease.

This is where the epiphany occurs – that no matter what our skin is doing, our mind has the power to react how we desire during that season.

I know my immediate response is to be anxious and angry that I am missing my run tonight. But instead of leaning into those emotions, I am choosing grace. I am reframing the situation and building a win instead of a loss.

Tonight, I am taking the time to organize folders that have been pushed to the side. I have soaked in a Dead Sea salt bath as an act of love to my skin and her various needs. I will also be lightly stretching before bed, allowing my body precious movement without exacerbating my sore skin or subjecting her to intense sweat or inflammation.

By the time my head hits the pillow, the night will not feel like a missed opportunity but a switch in productivity. I may not have accomplished a new running goal, but I championed my mind and rose to be a better version of myself – a version that isn’t defined by my skin, but just ever so guided by her.

I hope to harness this more regularly.

If we are able to accept where we are, instead of always armoring up for war, I believe a sense of peace will be upon us. Will it ever be fair that we must sit back while others freely roam? No, of course not. But there are plenty of things in life that are not fair, and if we dwell on what we do not have and what we cannot do, we will never be able to appreciate all the goodness at our fingertips. There is even scientific proof in this. If I asked you to stand in a room and find all of the objects that are red, you’d be solely focused on that one color; when I then ask you, “name one blue item,” you may have quite the difficult time recalling anything blue. Why? You weren’t looking for blue.

It’s the same for our emotions, our thoughts, and our reality. Eczema is a beast and can be grueling at times. But do not continually allow her to be the focus of your attention. Mitigate where you can, cry it out when needed (we are human), but then embrace what you can control instead of tethering to what you cannot.

As an added bonus, I also challenge you to step out of your comfort zone.

I often hate the way my skin looks and feels, which doesn’t help me mentally. I keep my body fit and strong, but my skin occasionally halts those endeavors. However, instead of beating myself down and pouring negative thoughts into my mirror, I bared all recently as a life art model.

It is not for everyone, and I am not saying that standing naked in front of strangers is the answer to our acceptance, but for myself, I know it gives me an opportunity to be brave; to allow others a chance to gaze at what I hide away more often than not. And, once complete, these vulnerable artists show me their work. I may have stripped down for them physically, but they strip away any qualms of their own by giving me a glimpse into a new mirror – pairs of eyes that see me in a different light. I am their muse, not a monster. I am the gorgeous strokes on their page. Those artists aren’t looking for perfection. They are looking for beauty.

And eczema or not, we are beautiful. It is a part of us that is worthy of loving.

So, on the tough days, the days that feel endless and lonely, know you are more than your skin and can be more than your negative thoughts surrounding her. Find the wins. Reframe your abilities. Be your own glorious muse.

About the author

Briana Banos