Today's guest post is from blogger Eden H Brown, who shares her journey through TSW, from having to live up to social media's expectations of a perfect life and perfect skin, to honest self-acceptance in a mutually supportive community.
I often get told “your skin is so perfect!” when the irony is that my skin is very far from perfect.
In reality, my Instagram (@edenhbrown) edits out a HUGE chunk of my life. I’ve had eczema for years now, but this past year my skin has been the most consistently angry it's ever been. I've laid low for months, filtering out my skin's reactions and flare-ups triggered by - but not limited to - all makeup; perfumes; diffusers; candles; haters; air fresheners; shampoo; bad vibes; stress, etc...
Steroids and me
I have used topical steroids for years, prescribed as my only option by the heaps of doctors, private specialists and dermatologists I have seen in my life. Steroids have caused flaking, bleeding, weeping, full body rashes and extreme swelling. After years of use, I realised that they haven’t actually helped, or provided a long-term solution. I’ve now withdrawn from all topical steroids and am in Topical Steroid Withdrawal.
TSW is a completely avoidable condition, which pains me so much; it’s extremely hard to stomach how unnecessary it is. While it’s easy to feel a bit like a deer in the headlights when faced with TSW, I came to the realisation that it was time to close one chapter of my life and start a new one.
Going through topical steroid withdrawal
One thing that’s really hard to deal with is going over the time that you’ve lost, and the times that you’ve curled up with anxiety instead of going out living your life - all as a result of something that could’ve been avoided.
My advice is to throw caution to the wind and enjoy the process of being your own therapy or treatment! Start rewarding yourself mentally. Resting more, relaxing more and allowing your body to recover. It’s so important to remember that stress takes a massive toll on our bodies and inhibits recovery.
So although I might talk about negative energy in a bit of a tongue-in-cheek way, if social media is too much or unrepresentative of your needs, then be proactive: unfollow things that stress you out and actively join communities of open-minded individuals!
Sharing my reality on social media
I’ve decided to include this part of my life now on my social media, because if you can’t use these platforms to help others, connect and share stories or for at the very least for showing that the perfect photo is not an indication of the perfect life, then we’ve all missed a trick!
I want to open myself up to other people going through the same thing and welcome others to share experiences. While some people have reacted to TSW with very dry or cracked skin, and with all or parts of their body reacting, my body’s response to TSW is major swelling. I want to showcase that we are all different and the community of TSW is still learning, so please engage with us!
Images: photos Eden shared on her Instagram, leading to an outpouring of support from the TSW community.
In the past, I have given in to the pressures of displaying an aesthetic feed online. However, after I found a community online of others sharing their stories, I found the confidence show the reality behind the beautiful feed. People are beautiful on the inside, not just the outside, and this is true of the perfect social media feed. The chaotic, raw reality is just as worthy of being featured as the good selfie.
My TSW community
One driving force for me posting about my less-than-reality, was so I stopped being anxious about bumping into people. I was overwhelmed with the positive responses that I got, mainly about how I am worthy as a friend, my sense of humor, my meaning to other people, all of which are nothing to do with my appearance anyway! It really summed up that perfection really, really doesn't matter.
What does matter is how you make people feel.
TSW is definitely not the worst thing ever, but in the claustrophobic and unreal world of perfect images, I do hope my posts about the reality of TSW brings comfort to someone. I’m determined to find a way to cure this condition, after I was told a few weeks ago by a dermatologist that it will never go away, and I will continue to share so that someone else can know too.
I have also decided to document this journey on YouTube (Eden Brown) to help us all feel less alone, through what can feel like such a helpless situation.
I’m not perfect, my skin is not perfect, and because life isn’t, should social media be...?!
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.