What do you say to yourself while you scratch away at that bone-deep itch?
What do you say to yourself after you have finished scratching yourself and you are left to deal with the aftermath?
What do you say to yourself first thing in the morning when you see your dry, flaky, red skin?
What do you say to yourself while you apply your oils and moisturizers and deal with all those sensations of your skin still itching, stinging, burning and while you wait for yourself to cool down?
If you’ve never thought about these questions before, you probably don’t realize what you are saying to yourself in those moments. However, you are definitely saying something to yourself in these situations.
Before I was introduced to negative self-talk, I never really gave it a thought of what I was saying to myself let alone to the thoughts regarding eczema.
I will give you some examples of the things I used to tell myself. I still sometimes say these things to myself without realizing it because I’ve talked to myself a certain way when it comes to eczema ever since I’ve had it as a kid.
Waking up in the mornings getting ready for work/school, after a rough night of itching, my skin already feels dry and tight. I look at my face and skin in the mirror to see dry, cracked, peeling, flaky and red skin.
What I say to myself without realizing:
Fuck, ugh, I have to deal with my skin again (which is every day). It looks like shit! What did I eat or do to trigger this?!
I’m already tired from my sleepless and itchy night. I don’t feel like dealing with this and going to work. It’s okay, you can sleep on your commute and when you get home tonight, sleep earlier.
Crap, I only have 30mins left to get ready and make my skin look presentable before I head out to work/school. I can never get control over my skin. What if people notice the redness and flakiness? Let me scratch and peel away some dead dry skin and make my skin look better. Hopefully, my skin looks better tomorrow.
I’m in this crazy itchy state where nothing is working, even if I were to take an antihistamine. Even though I’m scratching, it’s not going away and my eczema is getting worse in those small moments of the satisfaction from scratching. My eczema patches are in a worse state than before.
What I say to myself without realizing:
Stop scratching you idiot! It’s going to make it worse. Don’t you have any self-control?! The more you scratch the worse it’s going to get! Get yourself together, distract yourself with something.
In both situations, the way I talk to myself, the tone is pretty rough. I have zero self-compassion for myself in those moments. That’s the last thing I think about it. All I think about is my eczema, the appearance, the pain, and discomfort. It takes me away from the present moment.
These are just two situations you probably deal with on a daily basis. But there are more situations we deal with throughout the day. The constant discomfort of feeling your dry, irritated and itchy skin throughout the day also results in negative self-talk.
I tell myself, I don’t want to do this or that, I don’t want to interact with him or her because I feel shitty (because of eczema). So what ends up happening is that you live in the future and the past.
You tell yourself when I feel better, I’ll do this or that. When my eczema looks much better visibility and I feel better is when I will interact with that person. But today, I don’t feel like talking to anyone or presenting at work or giving your 110% at any given task.
You hold on to the past and cling on to those “good” skin days and you wait and wait and wait.
As you keep waiting for the future of a better life without eczema or at least where it doesn’t interfere with your quality of living, you have the memory and experiences of life without eczema or a good skin day. Your future and past are causing friction with your present day.
You wake up each and every day, hoping that today is the day that your skin will be much clearer, where you can be who you want to be and not worry about your appearances and live freely. But unfortunately, most days, it’s not like that.
Without realizing, in that moment, your negative self-talk will continue to drive your emotions and thoughts. Since the negative self-talk is happening every day, you have to start listening to what you say to yourself.
I used to wake up everyday, hoping that today would be the day, my skin would be presentable, less dry, flaky and red. If it was that kind of day, I felt that I could take on the day and slowly move towards becoming the person I want to be.
But as you know, those good skin days are extremely hard to come by.
Every morning, I would wake up to a full face and neck of dry, flaky, red, itchy, wrinkly skin. Without realizing, my self-confidence and self-esteem would take a small hit each and every day.
You can probably imagine how I felt in those moments. It’s not easy dealing with that on a physical level but also on a mental level. I had to talk to myself as if I was talking to someone else who had eczema. The things I told myself whenever I dealt with eczema, was not the most supportive or compassionate.
Would I speak like that if my siblings or future kids or my friends had eczema? Hell no.
But for some reason, we talk to ourselves in an aggressive negative way. I think we do that because of the constant pain we are dealing with and we don’t know any other way.
I feel like I’m hard on myself subconsciously so I can deal with the pain on a daily basis. It’s almost like I am protecting myself from the pain and the negative self-talk is like that hard-ass coach.
So now what?
Well, first things first, you’ll need to analyze and self-audit how you are feeling in the moments and right after you deal with eczema.
Sometimes, the pain is so much that I don’t remember what am I saying to myself while I scratch or itch in those moments.
But how do I analyze my thoughts then?
I started by writing out how I feel in a journal or even on my phone. If you are worried about someone seeing it, keep it in a safe private place or password protect your notes.
This too takes some level of commitment to remember to write your thoughts and feelings.
The most important thing to remember is not to filter your thoughts.
Write everything that you feel. The happy, sad, mad, frustrated, angry thoughts.
Don’t judge yourself for the things you write as well because this is your inner dialogue talking while dealing with the pain.
As you start to write your feelings, you’ll notice the tone of these thoughts.
This is where the change will start to happen.
Once you see your thoughts on paper (or on-screen), you’ll notice how the tone changes from your good (skin) days to the bad days.
Once you see this in front of you is when it becomes easier to be nicer to yourself in those moments of itchiness.
If you have any questions or need guidance on getting this started, feel free to contact me via Instagram @everything_eczema