Hello again loves! In my last post I gave an explanation of my history and why I decided to start this blog. I also said that I’m still dealing with a lot of the stress I put my body through. Today, I want to take the time to explain exactly what I meant.
This past summer I dealt with extreme eczema breakouts reminiscent to the ones I used to have when I was binging and purging a few years ago. My eyes swelled up, my upper lip was cracked and inflamed and my whole face was extremely sensitive, dry, puffy and flaky. In September I decided to go on a candida diet to clear up the symptoms. Candida is yeast everyone has in their body that commonly lives in the gut; however, overgrowth of candida can cause yeast infections, sinus issues, skin rashes, and more serious side effects like brain fog, depression, and anxiety. I learned of it long before the summer and was advised to look into it because food allergies were among the symptoms. The diet consists of eliminating foods candida feeds on like sugar (including fruit), starchy vegetables, gluten, most carbs, alcohol and a lot of other things.
The diet worked, my skin cleared up, and then I got lax on the diet because I love food. I didn’t have any breakouts for over a month, and then in the end of October my skin spiraled out of control. I think the tipping point was during Howard Homecoming when I consumed alcohol after abstaining for a few months, because I KNEW alcohol irritated my skin. Let’s be honest… alcohol ain’t good for nobody’s skin. A few weeks after homecoming I experienced eczema breakouts like I never have before. Instead of just going back on the candida diet, I kept doing research, learned about leaky gut syndrome, found even more extreme diets, and overwhelmed myself with information and remedies to try and heal myself. Web MD and Curezone.com were my best friends. I was also seeing a holistic doctor who told me I wasn’t dealing with candida and put me on a cleanse that included foods I suspected I had issues with.
Note: Follow your instincts! I’ve learned the hard way.
My eyes were swollen almost every morning, my upper lip was constantly inflamed, there were rashes all over my body and it itched uncontrollably. After a few weeks I started getting light patches on my face and it felt like my eyes would never go back to normal. I already have “old” eyes (I’m not ashamed), but eczema has given me the darkest circles and the deepest lines. I want to clarify that dealing with eczema is not just about the appearance of the skin. It is incredibly uncomfortable and often painful. Every time I broke a sweat the rashes began to sting and burn, and there was a month or two when I was unable to sleep. I would lie in bed all night itching, tossing and turning.
Looking back, my physical body was a manifestation of a lot of emotional and spiritual turmoil I was dealing with.
1. I was procrastinating writing this blog, because God gave me the vision for it over a year ago.
2. I was in a serious relationship with someone, but deep down I knew we shouldn’t have been together, so it caused me a lot of stress. Neither one of us was ready for the commitment. As a result, I was insecure within the relationship, and being with him forced me to face my demons, which I didn’t even realize were there. I thought I was emotionally healed and emotionally ready for a lot of things, but being with him made me realize I was not.
3. I lost steam and direction in my life. I wasn’t giving my all to the projects I was working on, and I had no specific goals with a set plan of action for my future. I was just going with the flow trusting that God had me. Yes, He did, but I needed to do my part. Remember, faith without works is dead.
In all of these areas I was fighting what God was telling me to do. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was a huge reason for a lot of the stress and turmoil in my life. The eczema breakouts definitely magnified those feelings and added insecurity into the mix. I have come a long way from when I was binge eating processed foods and battling with bulimia, depression, and insecurity, but these recent breakouts reminded me of who I used to be, and I didn’t want to be reminded of that girl. However, now I understand that she is a part of who I am. Sometimes God has to break us down before he can build us up, and although I’m no longer that girl, those experiences influenced my future decisions and are a huge part of why I am the woman I am today. When we are stubborn (like I am) God pushes us to our limit so that we run to Him instead of other people or things to console us. This brings us closer to God and allows Him to use us for His perfect will. He allows us to go through things so we can help others in the same situation.
“If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” 2 Corinthians 1:6
(Studying 1st and 2nd Corinthians has definitely been vital for me during this time.)
I continued my various methods of natural healing, desperate for relief. Throughout this entire process it has been important for me to get to the root of the issue instead of continuing to use topical creams which hide the symptoms. I had been using cortisone creams my whole life, but I got sick of masking the symptoms when there is clearly a deeper issue causing the inflammation. I want to heal from the inside out so that I’m living a healthy life, not a life addicted to medications. It got to the point where I was using the cream multiple times a day and my body was dependent on it. As soon as I stopped using it the eczema would return. Not to mention the horrible things I’ve read about the side effects of steroid creams.
My skin and overall health, mentally and physically, have gone through many stages since October. My skin has cleared up and broken out again and again, my energy levels have jumped around from week to week, and there were a few stretches of time when I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I dealt with anxiety attacks from the summer into the new year and sometimes they prevented me from leaving the house. I’ve gone on strict diets and fallen off because I’m human. I’ve jumped from doctor to doctor from DC to Seattle, and now I’ve found a dermatologist and a nutritionist in Seattle who both know a lot more than the other doctors I’ve seen. Before I was eliminating things from my diet without knowing how to supplement what I was lacking. The nutritionist has put me on an anti-inflammatory diet that is almost identical to the candida diet. My skin is not back to normal yet, but overall it is a lot better. I also recently found out from my dermatologist that I’m still dealing with staph infection (I originally I had it in March), which is very easy to catch when you have eczema. The infection has definitely delayed the healing and is still wreaking havoc on my body despite the diets I've tried and supplements I've taken. Now I just finished a round of antibiotics, which I really did not want to take, but it’s important to get rid of this infection. I was reluctant because taking antibiotics can cause candida and leaky gut issues by damaging the gut flora. This means the antibiotics destroy healthy bacteria in our guts that we need to keep us balanced and healthy. To try and prevent that from happening I've doubled the dosage of probiotics I'm taking to try and remain balanced. I've also decided to go back on the strict candida diet for a while to prevent any other breakouts after I get rid of the staph. I have faith that this is the end of the road for these crazy breakouts. Until then, I’m going to find all the candida diet and autoimmune paleo (similar to the candida diet) recipes to try out. I may be limited with what I can eat but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it! (More recipes coming soon.)
The moral of the story for now, is don’t be discouraged when challenges arise. I let my outlook on my situation hinder me from a lot, because I was letting it take control of my life. I kept making excuses for why I couldn’t stick to a healing diet because it was “too hard” and I isolated myself because I didn’t want to be seen. God never puts us through something we can’t handle. Most of the time He’s waiting on us to call Him for help. It took me a while to accept that things aren’t going to happen on my timing and the way that I want, but once I did, I was able to hear from God more clearly and let Him guide me. I can’t see the whole picture He’s painting, and I don’t need to. I had to let go of control so I could go where He wanted me to be, and right now, that’s in Seattle, focusing on getting healthy and writing this blog (although I'm currently in NY for a little vacay....I needed to have some fun). For a long time I equated coming home with failure, but there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you feel like you’re drowning! It’s much better to take care of your mental, spiritual and physical welfare now than to throw things under the rug and watch them explode years later. Through this process I’m learning to love myself again, flaws and all, and I encourage you to do the same.
I mentioned a lot of things in this post that some of you might not be familiar with. I know I wasn't familiar with most of this stuff a year ago! I've attached some links below with basic information if you're interested in learning more. Please remember, I am no doctor or expert on these conditions and terms! I'm just sharing information I've learned on this journey to heal myself. Until next time!
Steroid cream side effects - More side effects
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!