10-Month Update & My First Progress Photo
People that go through such dramatic topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) often say that the last 10-20% of healing their skin feels particularly hard, and I’ve definitely been feeling this myself.
Granted, it could also be because the first 80-90% is where you SEE the most dramatic difference, when you shed the thickest and deepest layers of your eczema. So in comparison, the last stretch seems to take forever to see results. As SLOW and never-ending as this process sometimes feels, you just have to remind yourself to take it day by day.
This is the first progress photo I’ve ever posted on here. I really noticed this particular improvement yesterday, by total chance, from one of my videos. Left is a screenshot from a video I made in June, and right is a photo I took yesterday (2 months apart).
At right, although it’s only 1-finger-width wide below my knuckles, is the softest skin I’ve felt on my body in I-have-no-idea-how-long. The larger cuts on my wrists, for the most part, have closed up, and the everyday redness has greatly decreased. It IS a victory, but still very hard to swallow.
It’s been about 10 months since I started this whole actively-healing thing. 10 months since I said, “I’m doing it.” Since I said, “This is the only way.” In these 10 months, my skin has been through hell and back. And after 10 months of painstaking hard work, insurmountable physical pain, countless tears, anxiety, and depression, I have these 2 measly square-inches of FINALLY soft, smooth, normal skin to remind me that this is a marathon.
By no means is it discouraging, though (well, maybe just not as much as you would think). But I guess I feel it's more disbelief... And then awe-inspiring.
I often wake up in the middle of the night (usually from itching). When I can't go back to sleep, I run my fingers back and forth over this tiny patch of soft, smooth, eczema-free skin. I'm in overwhelming disbelief thinking, "How will my entire body ever achieve this, when it took SO much just to achieve these 2-square inches?"
And then I'm in a different kind of disbelief, as I flash back, thinking of the layers and layers of thick, eczema scales that I literally saw shed off these very hands for months. And the piles of dead skin I brushed off my bed and swept off my floor day after day... The disbelief that turns into inspiration; The disbelief of all the physical illness, toxin, pain, anxiety, fear, and confusion I unknowingly held inside me for years, finally releasing its grasp and leaving my mind and body for good.
Of course, that's when Disbelief #1 comes back around again.
Funnily, it's kind of a sense of peaceful conflict between the two, for which I know I'm the only one that can resolve.
It's a difficult but necessary part of the process. It's not something that everyone can do. It requires faith in the process and in your body's strength and ability. It's a marathon.
And I know it's how I'll reach my end goal.
My healing photos are a very private part of my journey so far, and the photos above aren't even the tip of the iceberg. I keep an entire digital folder with hundreds of progress photos I've taken through this journey that no one has ever seen but myself. There have been just a few times that I've found myself opening that folder, and whenever I do, I feel my heart rate increase, I feel the need to control my breathing, sometimes I feel tears well up in my eyes, and sometimes I straight up bawl. Literally every single day since I started this journey, I've thought about the day that I'll be well enough to share those photos (and you bet I'm going to). Until then, I don't share my progress photos because I feel I'm very much still healing, and when I feel healed is when I'll be ready. Now considering that - I never thought I'd share a progress photo before then, but it feels good to take this step :)