For the first time EVER this is me sharing with you my completely normal naked face and to be honest I’m feeling somewhat nervous about it! I’ve gained so much confidence when I’m covered in eczema that I’d forgotten what it feels like to be insecure about the way I look without make-up when I’m eczema free. People can be cruel sometimes and it’s hard to read negative comments. I guess I’ve just become so used to having a face full of eczema that I’d actually forgotten what I really look like. All of those old feelings of hating the way I look just seemed to come flooding back when I first looked in the mirror, but this time it’s different. This time I’m thankful for all of those features I’d spent so many years despising. How does the saying go again? ‘You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’… I couldn’t agree more. You can only work with what you’ve got at the end of the day and this is just what I have to work with.
Pushing aside my insecurity for baring all…
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!!!? A CLEAR FACE!!!! This I have not seen for years. I’d forgotten what having a smooth face felt like. The other day a lady said to me “Gosh, you look pale, are you feeling ok?” :O I was literally skipping with joy inside! For the first time in over a year I just look ill because I’m deathly pale and not because I have a flakey, patchy, weepy, swollen, bleeding face! I’ve never been so happy to look ill before! I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m still pretty much covered in eczema everywhere else but my face, neck and chest are giving me hope that one day my whole body will look as good as this.
I can’t stop feeling my smooth skin. I never thought it was possible to love my forever troublesome skin but here I am, completely in love with my super paleness! I used to get so down about people saying how pale I was, and suggesting I need get a tan but now that’s all beautiful music to my ears! I AM SO PALE I LOOK ILL AND I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER! 🙂 I absolutely do not intend to get a tan and I will cherish my paleness for as long as I can. I don’t doubt that this won’t last so for now, I’m going to enjoy every inch of it. 🙂
A little message to all of you wonderful people out there: Whatever problems and troublesome times you’re going through right now, whether that’s physical issues, mental issues or just issues with life in general, keep battling and think positive. I know sometimes it doesn’t feel like you will ever see the light again but this is proof that things do get better. It’s easier said than done, I agree, but you just need to give it time.
If I can do it, so can you 🙂
Peace out you beautiful lot.
(Image taken in Taormina, Messina, Sicily, Italy)
Life is art. Art is life. Some are true artists. Others, not so much. Others, you. You are not a natural. You never listened in art class. You don’t know the techniques. Your hands shake, forever dropping the brush. The vast variety of brushes make it hard for you to know which one to use. You paint the sky. Red. It is wrong. Blue. Blue is right. How can you correct your error when you can’t erase the red? Blue over red makes brown. Brown is wrong. Blue is right. Why? Why blue? Why blue? Brown is wrong. Blue is right. But why? Why blue? Blue, is not your colour. You and blue don’t mix. Brown is wrong, but brown is you. You are not wrong. You are just different. Just because your colours don’t mimic reality doesn’t mean your picture is any less beautiful. So paint the sky red. Paint the ocean white. Draw the grassland as marshland. Draw the marshland as savannah. Live in the absurd, the mad, the crazy. Be bizarre, be strange, be colourful. Make mistakes to create new pictures. Discover that red and blue don’t make brown. You were never brown. You were always purple. You have the brushes. You have the colours. Now paint…
Well talking of real natural floral dream cream I’ve been doing a 4 week trial on a product that I just had to share it with you guys.
I’ve had a love for lavender since I can remember and this product has lavender written all over it. I mean, granted, let’s face it, it kind of smells like your gran but everyone loves their granny right?
I was recommended to try the junior range which wasn’t necessarily a shocker. Am I right when I say most people recommend us eczema sufferers to use junior creams? What’s great about products for children is that you know 100% they are for sensitive skin. If you can use them on babies, you can sure as hell use them on yourselves. 🙂
This week I hit ONE WHOLE YEAR of TSW! I cannot believe it has been a whole year already. 365 days of looking like a crack whore and I’m still smiling! Well, smiling when my tight, dry skin lets me. For a year I have been like besties with hell. I’ve become a frequent visitor to that fiery furness!! If this was the 15/1600’s I’d have been burnt at the stake for being a witch months ago! Not that I am ACTUALLY a Witch of course, but this constant weepy, itchy, smelly skin would surely have been mistaken for the devil by some curious Tudor citizens! That aside… I’M STILL HERE! I MADE IT!
When I think back to DAY 1 I shiver. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but did I think it was going to be THIS hard? Absolutely not! Would I have still have gone ahead with it had I known? ABSOLUTELY!
Making the decision to stop steroids and go cold turkey was the BEST decision I have ever made however difficult the journey has been. No, I may not be healed but I’m on the bumpy road to getting my life back and that is an exciting thought! Even good ole’Dorothy following her yellow brick road to Oz had to face a few “Lions and Tigers and Bears” (OH MY) on the way. I’m telling you now Dorothy, you’re a lucky lady because I’d welcome Lion and Tigers and Bears with open arms. I’d invite them round for a cuppa any day instead of having to dine with Mr. ITCHY, Mrs. SCRATCHY and Ms. WEEPY that’s for sure!!!
I know Topical Steroid Withdrawal is pretty darn horrific but it has strangely had a huge positive effect on me. I have my moments, naturally, where I cry and scream and wish it would all just end but on a whole I stay as strong as a Ox (I think that’s how the saying goes?).
Since I started sharing my eczema journey with you all last year, my life has substantially changed. Friends have become strangers. Strangers have become friends. I couldn’t have got this far without my amazing support network so for all of you who have supported me and have joined me on this difficult road I thank you so so much. You have been incredible and I will be forever grateful.
I’ve grown so much as an individual. I used to always be a person who would constantly worry about what other people thought. I’d worry about not being ‘beautiful’ and I’d frequently get upset because I felt ugly. My insecurities completely controlled me but actually, for all those years I’ve just been blinded. Absolutely blinded by the barriers set by society about what is or isn’t, the ‘ideal image’. WHO CARES?
Ever since I’ve shown you all my photos of my swollen face, my weeping skin, my blotchy body and my thinning hair I’ve had nothing but positive comments. I have had more people call ME beautiful since I’ve been showing my imperfections than in my whole lifetime.
Beautiful… what is ‘beauty’? If there is one thing this last year has taught me it’s that beauty isn’t all about looking good in that swimming costume you saw your friend wear last week, it’s not about having the perfect pony tail and the best tanned legs in that expensive dress. Beauty is about confidence, it’s about not caring what people think, it’s about loving you for you and not wishing you were someone else. We can’t change what we have so we need to stop wishing we looked more like other people and rock the hell out of what we’ve got. It’s about loving the very skin you’re in. Your imperfections make you different. Embrace them. Be your own kind of beautiful. How does the saying go again? ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and this I cannot stress this to you enough. I am so grateful to TSW for opening up my eyes and making me realise that actually, my very existence doesn’t depend on how attractive people find me and neither does yours. Beauty comes from within and since realising this I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my very sore, eczema ridden shoulders.
I know that suffering from a skin condition may make you feel unattractive from time to time, but believe me when I tell you that each and every one of you are stunning individuals. To deal with all the issues that come with having a skin disorder and still keep smiling is an amazing quality to have. That love and strength that shines through inspires others to also keep smiling and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Smile and the world smiles with you.
Thanks again for all your support throughout this last year.
Peace out you beautiful, beautiful lot,
This weekend was a big weekend for me. You may think, PAH! You, dressing up as a Tudor, performing? Difficult? Noway! But I swear to you it’s true! Performing yes, comes naturally to me but TSW really knocked it out of me and for a year I’ve been hibernating like a tortoise in my little Victorian terrace shell!
To put myself out there on the stage allowing everyone to stare at me, judging my skills as an actor is something I’m used to. Having people judging me because of the way my skin looks is also something I’m used to but combining the two really turned up the pressure. Pressure= Stress. Stress= ITCHING!
It was a weird little feeling. I was so excited to be back doing what I love more than anything but terrified of throwing myself out there for all eyes to see. What if I can’t do it? What if I have a flare up and need to have a scratching fit? What if I start shedding skin everywhere? What if I’m just not ready for this yet? So traumatic.
The stage isn’t a place whereby you can fade into the back ground going unnoticed. I will be centre of attention, I will have everyone focused on me, judging my ability to act. Little would they know just how hard acting would be for me this time. Not only am I Suzannah Shakespeare, but I’m also performing as a different me. The professional, confident actress with no troubles in the world. How inaccurate. It wasn’t my ultimate best performance I’ve ever done but considering the circumstances I think did pretty well.
The anxiety I felt the night before heading down to Stratford-Upon-Avon kept me awake, which was rather a good thing considering I was on a 12 hour night shift.
I know you all say I’m so strong to get through this with a positive attitude but I still get the same insecure feelings as you all do. I still get worried, anxious, upset. I certainly felt all of this whilst on the journey down there. It was going to be the first time I’d have saw the wonderful people at Tudor World for over a year, what if they don’t recognise this new me? So much has happened in the last year that I feel like a completely different person and what if they don’t like this new Amy-Lou?
Turns out all of this worrying was for absolutely nothing because as soon as I took the first step onto the original 16th century cobbles that lead up to the museum I felt like I’d come back home and I was so relaxed. I felt inspired, rejuvenated, alive!
It was amazing to once again get stuck into rehearing and to be working with my awesome colleagues again! I was so busy it really distracted me from my itchy nightmare. My colleagues made me feel so at ease, even getting changed in front of them just wasn’t an issue at all. It literally took so much man strength to squeeze me into my dress. I’ve put on a whole stone since I last tried to fasten up this little number. I’m pretty sure that’s down to not being able to do any exercise since TSW because sweat and eczema do not get on! If you could have seen me trying to get into this dress I guarantee you’d have been on your back laughing!
Once in that dress, I felt amazing! I felt like me again! The ‘me’ that loves performing, that loves making an audience laugh and loves being complimented. I DID IT! I finally, after 11 months of TSW got back on that stage! I am so proud of myself for it! If we can get through all the pain steroids have induced on us and still stay positive, we can do ANYTHING!
I spent a day having people take my photo, calling me beautiful because of the dress and I loved every minute of it! My skin looked great and I felt great! When you’re smiling no-one even notices your imperfections because smiling is so contagious. I was at no point questioned about my eczema and for once, I felt normal. People didn’t want a photo with me because I was the girl in the paper for having a skin condition, I was just a girl playing a character in a Tudor costume anonymous to the general public and I couldn’t have felt happier.
I still stick by not pushing yourself too far and accepting your limits but sometimes you’ve just got to get out there and start living again! Challenge yourself! Whether that’s leaving the house, getting out of bed or even just making a cup of tea, try it. It is just such a rewarding feeling when you’ve successfully achieved whatever challenge you may have set yourself. It will be worth every ache, pain and effort to just feel proud. Just replacing that feeling of failure with success will pick you up if you’re having a down day. It will make you feel positive, it will make you realise you can still live life, and it will give you a taste of what life may feel like when you get to the end of our super dark, itchy tunnel. If you don’t succeed the first time, get up and try again, don’t give up. What’s that song about getting knocked down and getting back up again? There’s no such word as can’t here, if I can do it, you can do it. We are all in this together and together we will beat this!
What challenges have you set yourself? What challenges have you already successfully completed? Or what are you currently trying to work towards?
I want to hear all! 🙂
PS. If you like ‘The Terrible Tudors’, you will love ‘The Falstaff Experience. Tudor World’. Check out the website for up and coming events… http://www.falstaffexperience.co.uk/
Seriously guys… We know you are only trying to help but trust me when I say, you’re not!
WOW! Thank you for your advice Doris! I will stop scratching straight away! Who’d have thought it was that easy hey! If only we’d all been told sooner, we’d have saved ourselves from so much suffering! What are we like!!! *Rolls eyes*
Oh really!? Are we!? Aren’t we a silly lot…. Slap our wrists!!! (Except, don’t do that as that may trigger a scratching fit… yes! We know… WE MUSTN’T SCRATCH)
YES! It is extremely contagious so you ought to stay the hell away! Like seriously, just talking to me means you may be able to catch it so better not breath another word in my direction! (There’s one way to get rid of morons)
Aaaaaand the award for ‘BEING ABLE TO STATE THE OBVIOUS’ goes toooo….. YOU! *Claps* What an achievement! And there we were thinking you were stupid!
Oh well that’s awkward! There I was thinking I was having a ‘good skin day’, I’d better put my long sleeve polo neck jumper back on then.
Well, it’s not is it but it’s nice to know you’d lie to my face just to make me feel better I guess. I will be sure to never ask you if “my bum looks big in this”.
Ok, let’s get one thing straight… Dry skin and eczema, not the same! Don’t compare your small dry patch to my itchy, scabby, flaky, weepy, eczema! Are you chronically under slept because of that dry patch you have there? I DIDN’T THINK SO.
So I mean really, the moral of the story is to take a leaf out of Ronan Keating’s book because *sings* “You say your best, when you say NOTHING AT ALL”.