I’m sat here feeling a little nervous posting this skin update as it seems that whenever I share progress pictures, a flare follows. That said the flares I have at the moment are relatively mild and clear up pretty sharpish so I’ll press on.
When I was in the dark depths of full body withdrawal (Find out what TOPICAL STEROID WITHDRAWAL is here), I found myself staring at my phone screen for hours on end, often whilst soaking in an oat/dead sea salt bath, desperately searching for others success stories to give me hope. I scoured hashtags on Instagram, read other peoples TSW stories on blogs and looked at countless post-TSW progress pictures online which for me gave me hope! Hope that I very much needed at the time! I needed to see that things do get better and that there is life after TSW, despite it feeling at the time that it will NEVER end! It’s for this reason I thought I’d share my progress pictures with you as if you are doing what I was doing, searching for others successes, this just may help pull you through your darkest days., knowing that THINGS WILL GET BETTER!
26 months since my TSW journey began
Its been 26 months since I last use a topical steroids on my skin. As I mentioned in my previous ‘Skin Update’ which you can read here – Topical steroid withdrawal – Approaching 2 years), my full body withdrawal came late. Unlike most who seem to go through full body withdrawal in the first few months, for some reason mine was delayed and all kicked off around month 18.
TSW and LOCKDOWN
I went through the worst of my withdrawal whilst we were in lockdown due to the global pandemic. Some would say it was the best time to go through it and to an extent, I’d have to agree. It meant I didn’t need to see anyone so could hide away and not show my dry, itchy, red face and body to anyone. But in not seeing anyone, (aside from my husband who was amazing btw), I had no support and felt very isolated and alone. I know everyone felt similar in lockdown however lockdown when you are poorly was tough. Having to speak to doctors on the phone and try to explain how your skin was. Trying to self diagnose infections. Having to fight for antibiotics and referrals. It all added to the stressful situation and there was no escape. No where to go to off load, to go to forget about it as you cant escape the feeling of your skin literally falling off and the skin splitting and cracking. My only solace was my bath!
How is my skin now?
So without jinxing myself, I’d go as far as to say that I think I’m through TSW now and now I have eczema. (The Eczema that started me using steroid creams in the first place!) My problem areas are my wrists and the creases in my elbows, my hair line at the back of my head and my neck but these patches of what I’d call eczema are manageable. I manage them with my moisturisers and balms and gentle products. ( If you want to know what I’m currently using head over to read my blog – 5 Gentle products for sensitive and problematic skin) I don’t feel they warrant anything stronger as lets face it, compared to full body TSW flares, I can handle a bit of eczema right now.
Slowly the old you returns
These past two years going through TSW have been tough, but the past 6 months have been THE worst. Topical steroid addiction stripped everything from me and at times ( so many times) I didn’t want to get out of bed, instead hide from the world. BUT, I am a mum to three young boys and a wife to an amazing husband so I had little choice other than to show up for them despite how hard it seemed at the time. I was not the best version of me, infact I’d say I was the worst version of me. I had little patience, I was irritable, sad, stressed, angry, tired (Oh so tired as sleep wasn’t something that happened. ) All the things that I enjoyed I could no longer do. Those who have followed me for a while will know how much I love clothes and fashion yet for months I lived in long-sleeved cotton tops and tracksuits, hair scrapped back, no make up on! But what I will say is that this does change. Slowly as my skin has calmed, I’ve been able to sleep better, making me less irritable. I’ve been able to wear more of the clothes that I love (still wearing cotton layers underneath though) and been able to apply some make up again.
Before TSW I’d be that person that would chat to anyone and everyone, making small talk where ever I’d go but during my dark days, I’d avoid eye contact at all costs and became so withdrawn. Again, with healing and time, this feeling dwindled and slowly I’m being the old me again…
A new improved me?
Having gone through TSW I can honestly say I am a better person. I am much more tolerable, more empathetic and really appreciate living life. In the past I have let things hold me back, wondering ‘what people will think’ or worrying if I’d be judged but having gone through Topical steroid withdrawal I can honestly say, I genuinely care less about what others think of me and instead focus more on what I can control and what makes me and my family happy.
I’ve bitten the bullet and I’ve started working with brands that I love and that have genuinely helped me through my skin journey (which I regularly share on my Instagram page) and have continued writing content for other businesses. My advice to you is to try if you can, to keep something going that makes you happy. Whether that’s reading, journaling, singing; what ever your hobby is. It will really help your state of mind!
Be kind to your self and bear in mind…
One think to add, when looking through peoples ‘100% healed’ post-tsw progress pictures, please manage your own expectations as a lot of us had eczema in the beginning (which was why we were using topical steroids in the first place) and after going through TSW are likely to still be left with some form of eczema. It isn’t guaranteed that you will have clear skin! I have patches on my wrists and elbows and some on my neck and am now having UV Photo/Light Therapy to treat it. I’ve had two sessions so far and will update you on how that goes.
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