I never knew how much poor mental health could effect your skin, and how much skin can negatively effect your mental health. Until I was stuck in a vicious cycle.

Last year I was under a huge amount of emotional stress as I came to the decision that it was time to say goodbye to my father. It wasn’t a split decision or one that I took lightly. After years of putting up with mental games from my father I decided that I needed to make a decision that was best for me and that was a life without him. I wished I didn’t have to do it, but if I wanted to be happy I had no other choice, he would never change.

I have always had fairly good skin, I never had spots growing up and it wasn’t a part of my body that I ever got stressed about. However, stress manifests itself in interesting ways. After making the decision to live my life without my dad, I very suddenly developed a small patch of eczema on my face. I wasn’t too worried but it didn’t look very nice and it made me feel self-conscious.

As my mental health deteriorated, the eczema became worse and worse until it was covering nearly all of my face. It was red and flaky and every time I looked into the mirror I cried. The irony is that stress makes eczema worse, so the more I thought and stressed about my skin (which was ALL of the time) the more my eczema spread around my body.

I became a social hermit, I didn’t want to meet up with my friends because I didn’t want to go out in public and have people stare at me. When I did force myself to go to parties I felt like the ugliest person in the world next to all of my beautiful friends. All of my confidence disappeared, I felt like my body had betrayed me. My skin was acting as a siren to the emotions I was hiding on the inside, it was like I couldn’t avoid my past.

After several visits to the doctor, and ten different creams later, I knew that creams alone wouldn’t work. I had to be kinder to myself. I started practicing meditation before bed and did yoga in my bedroom. During this time, my older sister had a baby which acted as the best distraction in the world and played a huge roll in calming my mind and, therefore, my skin. As my skin started to get better, I socialised more and in time became a much happier human being.

Whilst my skin still isn’t perfect, the smallest amount of stress can irritate it, I know now what the consequences of letting my skin take over my mind can be. I know now to be strong. I know that there is too much to be seen and done in life to let my skin hold me back.