Sharing A Secret – Skin Conditions And Mental Illness

Blogtober day thirty’s topic is very appropriate, and you’ll know why if you were tuned into BBC Radio 1 at around 6pm yesterday.

Today I’d like to talk to you about the link between skin conditions and mental illness. I’d like to share with you a secret – my own struggle.

If you’ve been here a while, or know me personally, then you’ll know that I have battled with pretty severe eczema for a couple of years now. You’ll probably know that it caused me a lot of physical pain. But, what you probably don’t know is that my mental wellbeing also suffered as a result.

Staph infection 1Right foot

Inflamed ankleStaph infection 2Left foot

My Eczema Made Me Depressed

During the worst periods of my eczema I battled depression, anxiety and complusive behaviours. In fact, I spent a short while on anti-depressents before I decided that it wasn’t the right route for me.

The problem with skin conditions is just that, they affect the skin. This in turn can effect our perceptions of ourselves, and the way that we think others percieve us, thus lowering our self confidence and increasing our anxiety in social situations.

This is exactly what happened when I was suffering badly with my eczema, and it still does happen to me. I struggled to get out of bed in the morning, I was disgusted and reduced to tears at the sight of myself, I felt hopeless and worthless, I became anxious at the thought of difficult social situations and I developed repeptitive behaviours as a way of coping with this. I still do now. Even now I find myself getting nervous and itching at my feet, or pulling fabric between my toes as a sort of way of soothing myself.

Things Need To Change

You probably wonder why I’m sharing this. I mean, I know Blogtober required me to share a secret today. But why did I choose to share this particular, sensitive one?

Well, it’s time for things to change. We need to remove the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Because mental illness is all around us. Fact: 17 in 100 people experience suicidal thoughts at some point in their lifetime. Fact: A 2009 study found that 9.7 in 100 people experienced mixed feelings of anxiety and depression that year alone. And these are just the figures that are reported, the real numbers are likely much higher because of the stigma that is attached to mental health.

The fact of the matter is that having a skin condition affects the way you feel about yourself. Eczema, psiorasis and acne are very visible conditions. It is true, occasionally people aren’t very understanding and can be mean about your condition. But the truth is that there isn’t enough support out there for people with these conditions. I battled with eczema for two years before I was placed on anti-depressents. Not once in that time did anyone ask me how I felt. Not once in that time did anyone notice that something was wrong, even when I broke down in tears in the nurses office having my feet bandaged one Friday night.

Even when I decided it was time to ask for help. When I couldn’t sleep and I was starting to cruise through life, days at a time, emotionless and lost. I was simply placed on medication and sent away.

I have decided to share this secret with you today because I don’t think it should be difficult for us to be able to talk about our mental health. I hope that this helps some of you to speak out, or listen, when it comes to your own and others mental health.

To learn more about eczema and depression, visit this article on netdoctor.co.uk.

Rachel x

28 thoughts on “Sharing A Secret – Skin Conditions And Mental Illness

  1. I have much respect for you to talk about this. I don’t suffer with skin conditions but with depression I do. I totally know exactly what you’re saying about how waking up each morning is difficult and the rest that plays a part in how you’re feeling. Sometimes you get so low and you don’t know what to do with yourself. I’ve been on meds since I was 18 and now 22. Only about a week ago I was having a depressive episode and haven’t had one that bad in years but I listened to my body and I went with it then I eventually started to feel better. The stigma is real unfortunately but I think the more people talk about it the more people are going to feel brave and speak up 🙂 take care X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Gabrielle, it’s lovely to receive such a warm welcome and support from someone who has experienced the same thing. I’m in a much better place now, but there are still times where I find myself slipping back into old ways. I think it’s important to open up and talk about it – not only to combat the stigma but also for our own healing. Thank you for stopping by. Have a great day x

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  2. So many touch on this subject and I tend to graze cover them, not because I want to sweep it under the carpet but because after reading a few lines I realise they have not been through this and are only talking about it from the surface (which has it’s place I guess). I have suffered with anxiety and panic attacks -and low moods, sometimes suicidal thoughts when I get really low- my mom has Bi-polar and growing up with that has certainly left its mark. When I feel in a rot I really have to work through it, and I still struggle to ask for help, not because I am ashamed of the feelings or thoughts I am having- but because I think it’s not worth getting others down as well. Strange is’t it? But, I am happy that you have shared your story and I feel for you. You are certainly not alone, the can of worms just needs opening more often so people will stop seeing mental health issues as a negative thing that should be kept shut away. Know that others are rooting for you and you are beautiful regardless of how your body decides to deal with stressful events when they come. : ) x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Alicia, thank you for stopping by. I agree, it is difficult to read a post about something important like mental health if it doesn’t seem genuine so I can certainly see what you mean. I am a firm believer that every person will be affected by mental illness at some point in their life – whether they suffer with it themselves or experience it through a loved one. It’s very common actually for people to struggle to share their feelings because they don’t want to burden/upset others. The same goes for you, and I’d love for us all to talk more and more openly about our mental health. Take care x

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  3. This is one of your best posts Rachel. I had acne as a teenager and felt it was pretty bad, I wanted to hide and had a some days off school, I was put on medication for it. I still worry about it at times and check my face daily. I also have had times of depression anxiety and post natal depression, not fun. I think you are so right, everyone has some contact with mental illness. The more open one person is, like you today, the more open we all are. It takes courage to share and begin the discussion! Well done.

    I can’t believe no one asked you how your coping, how you feel, are you ok? That’s terrible! Of course eczema affects your well being, no wonder you suffered and were depressed!

    Ps. Alicia I read you comment about your experience too, thank you for sharing, it seems you too have had a rough road yourself. and I agree, it’s always so much stronger when someone’s had the experience they talk about!

    Much love to both of you xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Megan, thank you again for stopping by. It really is heartwarming to know that people share my opinions on such important matters, and it’s especially nice to know that you’re not alone. I am great right now thank you, luckily my eczema has been absent for several months now. I’m slowly starting to get back to normal, whatever that is! I hope you’ve had a good day and you have a lovely weekend. Sending love your way too xx

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  4. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life. I’m not ashamed of it, but I know there is definitely a stigma attached to mental illness. I’m so sorry that you suffered for so long before anyone helped you. I think you are doing a great job of helping others with your writing.

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  5. You are absolutely right. My sister had (and still has to some extent) psioriasis and I was only spared because I was born a male. At least that`s what I was told. Anyway, my sis went jealous because of it. But what`s even worse, she had a period when she couldn`t be touched. She resented the feeling. But she learnt to cope with it and now it`s fine 🙂 Fortunately!
    Anyway, we`ve never thought of her problem as something that can affect mental health. As something serious. Only now, in retrospect can I see my mistake (whole family actually). You were probably prescribed a medication because of the same reason. And that really saddens me. Not only due to the lack of empathy, but because I too struggle sometimes with mental health. And it would be sooo wonderful to have someone who can understand, trully, not like those people who would send you to psychiatrist right away.
    I`m sorry for a long comment. Wishing you a best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Sidney I’m sorry I’ve only just got round to reading your comments. I’m so happy that your sister seems to be doing much better. The more I talk about mental health the more I begin to think that everyone has suffered a bit at some point in their life. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me, I’m very fortunate to have met everyone in the Blogtober challenge. You are wonderful and I wish you the best of luck too, I hope we can all keep in contact after this.

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  6. If there is something that blogging told me, it is that I am not alone. It might appear that we are alone with us living everyday in an environment that assumes with their eyes and looks with their asses. I learned that I am not the only one feeling this down. I learned that it is a common problem shunned by the masses as a simple case of nerves.
    This is highly brave of you, Rachel. My respect has skyrocketed with this post. Thank you for providing us an eye-opener to such a troubled cause. I hope your battle gets done soon and I am for certain that you will win it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, it really means a lot to me to read comments from amazing people like you. I’m so lucky to have met you through the Blogtober challenge, it’s one of my best decisions yet. It really makes my day to have so much support and be able to relate with you about such personal things. Thank you again.

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  7. Thank you for sharing your story!! I suffer from eczema as well and there are definitely both physical and mental strains that come with having skin irritations/conditions. This is what I love about blogging – is that when others share their stories, I also am able to learn about myself. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You are beautiful inside and out, you should never be disgusted with yourself, but I understand that feeling. Whilst I’ve never suffered as you have, I understand that it’s hard to shake the way we feel about ourselves. It’s amazing that you are brave enough to speak out about it all, there is such an awful stigma attached to mental health, no more pushing it under the rug, it’s good you can talk 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you again Sammy for stopping by, your comment has really lifted my spirit today. Although I’m in a much better place right now, we all have our off days and I love that there are so many people who are so passionate about this important issue. x

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