Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one person’s story.
When you share your life on the internet, it can be difficult to decide whether to share intimate details of your personal life with your audience or keep them private.
I’ve always leaned toward sharing nearly everything online because I hope it helps some readers feel less alone in their struggles. It’s also because people reading my makes me feel less alone and supported even on my roughest days.
My journey with eczema over the past year has been no exception. Some of the best suggestions I’ve gotten have come straight from my blog readers and listeners!
I’m now about a year into struggling with the rampant skin disorder and although I’ve made little progress physically, mentally I’m in a much better place than I was in the beginning.
If I can help just one person feel good and confident in their own skin no matter how it looks or feels, then sharing this journey publicly is worth it to me.
Caption: I’ve made little progress physically, but mentally I’m in a much better place after taking time off of work.
The first symptoms appear
Last summer, my armpits starting itching horribly. The redness was ugly, deeply uncomfortable, and painful to the touch. It kept me up all night.
Everything I loved to do, from hot yoga and running to cuddling with my boyfriend, was no longer was an option for me.
Sweating, heat, and the lightest touch irritated the aggressive red patches under my arms. I assumed it was from a new natural deodorant I’d been using, so I switched products a few times. I tried as many deodorants as I could get my hands on. Nothing worked, so I stopped wearing deodorant completely.
The rash still didn’t go away.
I’d had a few experiences with eczema before but they were so mild that I thought I had to be aggravating my skin in some way.
Then, when I was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding last October, I noticed that the back of my neck was incredibly itchy.
I asked the makeup artist to tell me if she could see anything there. She responded, “Wow! Girl, your neck looks like LIZARD skin!”
I was stunned.
I knew the rash was spreading and this time I could tell it was coming from deep under my skin and working its way out.
From there, the rash started spreading in itchy, oozy patches that came on so quickly they made my neck stick to my pillow at night.
My hair would get so enmeshed with the wet skin on my neck that I’d have to rip them off of each other in the morning.
It was disgusting, beyond distracting, and painful.
I tried a few different creams that worked for other rashes I’d had in the past, but nothing was effective.
I kept telling myself it was probably just stress, or the weather, or an allergy that would go away. But after a few months I realized the rashes were not only there to stay, they were continuing to spread.
Caption: I no longer want to let this skin disorder dictate my life.
Taking action as my eczema flare-up spreads
By January 1st of this year, I woke up and was covered in hives and eczema. I couldn’t even tell one type of rash from the other.
My skin was on fire and was covered with what felt like a million miniature pin pricks.
I was freaked out, to say the least, and was positive it was an allergic reaction this time.
I took extreme measures to make sure I wasn’t exposing myself to anything that could be disturbing my skin. I cut out nightshades and all histamine and inflammatory foods. I went plant-based vegan again, knowing that plant foods are some of the most anti-inflammatory on the planet.
I tried the protocols consisting of celery juice every morning and a high-fruit diet to combat the growing rashes. I got my house tested for mold, repeatedly found myself in the ER for cortisone shots, started working with an autoimmune specialist, and did blood test after blood test to see if I’d acquired new allergies. Nothing worked.
My skin starts to impact my mental health
While I was putting a lot of effort into trying to get better physically, my mental health was deteriorating.
The rashes were causing severe insomnia, which was causing chronic fatigue and depression.
I was losing energy and inspiration for my work. I cancelled plans with friends, photoshoots, speaking engagements, meetings, and podcast interviews. I simply didn’t have it in me to keep living my daily life.
The only thing I really felt inspired to share on my blog and podcast was my skin journey. I posted photos of myself on my darkest days, covered in mountainous red hives with my normally clear skin nowhere to be seen… not even on my face! I received so much support and love from my audience. I also got so many incredible recommendations and resources to check out that have given me some relief.
Ultimately, I decided to take time off to focus on my health completely. I took myself on a solo trip to Bali, and when I got back I checked into a medically-guided water fasting center in northern California. (Two recommendations from my blog readers, of course!)
Both have helped ease my mind very much, even though the eczema is still there.
Reflecting on this journey in Bali and northern California led to an important realization: I no longer want to let this skin disorder dictate my life.
I’m done being sad and spending my days in bed nursing exhaustion and discomfort.
Rest is important and I’ve given myself a lot of time to rest and dig deep internally. Now I’m ready to dive back into my life and let these challenges with eczema be a piece of me but not the definition of me.
For anyone out there who’s struggling with a skin condition, you’re not alone.
We can do everything in our power to heal and make healthy changes. But when problems persist, it’s helped me to try to accept them while I continue trying to find a solution.
From now on I’ll be letting my eczema struggle inspire me to continue being me — a creator, a dreamer, a doer, and an active person who loves to be outside and be around people — despite the challenges and the pain.
Jordan Younger is the blogger behind the #realness-based wellness and lifestyle blog The Balanced Blonde. Beyond the blog, she’s the creator of the “Soul on Fire” podcast, where real conversations meet wellness, spirituality, high vibes, and authenticity. Jordan is also the author of the eating disorder recovery memoir “Breaking Vegan” and the “Soul on Fire Yoga” e-book. Find her on Instagram.