A lot of my posts lately have been highlighting my topical steroid withdrawal process. However, I originally started this blog revealing my complicated relationship with food and body image. Initially I thought my health and skin issues were a result of my poor diet and binging and purging habits years ago. While I'm sure they didn't help, my use of topical steroids for so many years is the real cause of the various health issues I'm dealing with now. While it's a relief to finally know why everything has happened, having positive body image is still something I battle with daily. And it doesn't help when other people feel like they have the right to comment on my body.
I am now in my 7th week of moisture withdrawal. A few weeks ago I attempted to moisturize using sesame seed oil after I bathed. That lasted for two days until I realized that my skin just felt dryer than before. About a week and a half ago I flared really badly. It was either the aftermath of trying to moisturize or the New York City pollution, but since then my skin has been struggling.
Last week I started rehearsal for A Christmas Carol. It’s kind of surreal, because one year ago I unknowingly began Topical Steroid Withdrawal during rehearsals for the same show. I’ve truly come full circle. Even though I’m not completely healed physically, I’m much stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. A year ago I was literally suppressing panic attacks on stage, crying in the bathroom during intermission, feeling lost, confused, and like I was drowning. This past year has been the hardest challenge I’ve ever had to face, and I’m still facing it daily, however, I have grown immensely. Thank God for the lessons I’ve learned and will learn. This year has been a whirlwind of unexpected obstacles and blessings to say the least. It’s frustrating when things don’t go as planned, but if you learn to open yourself to the possibilities of unforeseen circumstances and find the positive in the situations you don’t plan for, it’s amazing how God can change you for the better.
Today I left the house with no hat and no hoody. Usually when my skin is flared up like this I stay inside, or I hide if I have to be out in public, but today I didn't feel like hiding. I've been in rehearsal for A Christmas Carol for the past week and almost every day I've been the hooded figure swaddled in a scarf and hat. The skin on my face has been really improving, but last week before rehearsal started I dealt with a bad flare that I'm still coming down from. I even broke out in my armpits, which has NEVER happened before. It could be that I traveled back to the east coast and my body is adjusting, or that I started eating more fruit and my body can't handle the sugar, or that I tried moisturizing with sesame seed oil and my body is not happy about it, or it's just a random flare, because I'm going through Topical Steroid Withdrawal. I don't know and I'm not going to stress over it.
I recently learned that my skin is going through Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW), and that has been the cause of the constant breakouts. Since TSW is a reaction to topical steroids and not actual eczema, natural eczema remedies have not been helpful. As I’ve continued to research the net and read the blogs of other TSW survivors, I’ve learned that many people have experienced improvement in their skin by going through moisture withdrawal. As far as I’ve found there is no miracle supplement or skin cream to cure TSW, but everyone who has tried moisture withdrawal has reported a vast improvement in their symptoms within a few weeks. When I first heard of it I thought, “That’s entirely too much.” I’m used to moisturizing every hour, or less, and it’s the only way that I’m able to look presentable in public. These flakes are no joke. But then the more I researched, the more it made sense. After you get over the initial discomfort and dryness of moisture withdrawal, your symptoms improve and the rest of the TSW process is a lot more bearable. When I weighed it out, I decided that I could handle two to four weeks of discomfort in order to expedite my healing. I’m currently starting week five of my moisture withdrawal process.
I'm Lauren, aka Just Du Pree, and I want to thank you for reading. This is a space where I share my very personal journey healing from eczema and topical steroid withdrawal (among other things), life lessons I've learned along the way, and occasionally the thoughts of an awkward Black girl (no Issa Rae). I'm a performer and filmmaker, so if you feel so inclined, pop over here to see what goes on in my mind on the regular. If you like what you see, you can stay up to date with my work here. Much love, friends!