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.
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.