My eczema is like a funhouse mirror.
It totally distorts my perception of how I see myself. I look up close and my features spread 3 inches wider. I step back and my waist expands 20 inches. I step back further and now I'm a 3 foot tall OompaLoompa. The only difference is that I know the OompaLoompa staring back at me is just a grossly manipulated version of how I really look and myany times, my eczema will not let me see myself in a normal mirror, in flattering light, at my best angle.
First, I have a love/hate relationship with mirrors. I need them to see examine new and old patches of scaly, red skin, but I hate them because they show me what I don't want to see. Secondly, my flattering light? Dim. Or even better, dark. My best angle? The back of my head, of course, with my hair down (eczema on the back of the neck, you know).
Sometimes I'll look at past pictures of myself, like this weekend, on Facebook. I like to see the progression or regression of my eczema over the years. I should have a frame for every stage I go through, like they have for your kids. You know, like those frames that have one for each grade, so you see how they're grown?
I saw a picture from four years ago, from when I went out with my girlfriends for my Stagette (a.k.a. Bachelorette or Hen Party). I remember being so self-conscious about going out that night. I was agonizing over what I would wear to hide my eczema. I worried that my face be flaky by 1 a.m. and I wouldn't be close to any of my moisturizers that I didn't carry with me, because that would be awkward to carry while you're dancing, wouldn't it?
Also, I knew the bouncer would check my purse at the club doors, and I didn't want him to see anything embarrassing or revealing about my personal hygiene. Why, I could never dance there again if that happened. Passing out shit-faced on the dance floor is totally okay, but to have the bouncer see a jar of Vaseline in your purse? Completely unacceptable.
I look at that picture now and think I looked great compared to now. What was I so worried about? Ironically, back then, there were plenty of times that I let my self-consciousness rule my world. I would turn down getting together with friends and going out because I thought I looked like a freak. I would get myself so depressed and so focused on my negative self-perception.
When I feel self-conscious or feel myself slipping into "negatism", as my aunt calls it, I try to remember that I can stop looking at myself in the funhouse mirror and just go enjoy myself.
Besides, my eczema funhouse mirror? Not so fun.