“Temporary suffering. Permanent healing.” – itsan.org forum response post

I’ve been checking out the International Steroid Addiction Network forums for a few months now and I always feel this strong sense of community and love whenever I check out a post.  It’s great to have others who are going through the same difficulties as you share their experience, knowledge, and just give encouragement to keep pressing on.  We all lift one another up, and this post shows that perfectly.  I was so touched by the beautiful response that was given to a question about being self conscious and embarrassed about TSW, that I just had to share…

Hi all,
I could really use some advice. I was doing really well, and had mostly healed from my initial flare, but then had another big flare this past month. I’m 8 months in. Now I look like crap, and I’m really feeling embarrassed and depressed by the way I look, especially at work.

I’m feeling bad about myself a lot and feel I am being judged by the way I look. This may not be true, but I feel it, and I feel very asocial. What makes it hard is I told a few people at work during the last flare about TSW because they were concerned, and then they thought I had completely healed because my face looked normal for awhile.

My question is how do you respond to people  asking you what’s wrong with your face or skin? I’ve been telling people it’s eczema, but that isn’t totally true. And then when I say this, people try giving me creams or recommending doctors to me to see. But I don’t want any of this right now.

I just feel people won’t understand, and I don’t know how to handle peoples’ stares and questions, and how to address this. If I tell them the truth, I think they may think I’m a bit of a flake because I’m not following “mainstream medicine.” Or worse, they’ll think I can’t handle my job because of what I’m going through, or will be afraid to put me in front of clients. I’m a professional, and part of my job is to interface with clients and the public. Looking like crap makes this really hard, but leaving my job isn’t an option right now.

Any advice appreciated. I’m considering going to see a therapist to help me work this stuff out too, and hope they would be open to this TSW process.


Christopher‘s Response:

Hi George,

I can resonate with what you’re saying. What we’re going through isn’t easy, and it’s extremely hard to feel comfortable with the skin we’re in when we’re in the face of public eyes. I’m going to try to give you some advice and hopefully you can find some value in what I have to say.

People are going to stare

Being outside in the public eye, we have to understand that people are going to stare at us. This is natural and what we need to know is that they are staring at us from a place of sympathy, not judgment. I’ve had strangers come up to me at the mall to recommend some type of treatment or cream, and while I know most if not all of them won’t work, I’m deeply humbled because they saw through my suffering and opened up their hearts to try and help. Your coworkers and others are trying to do the same thing.

Our mind lies

Whenever we feel afraid, or depressed, or embarrassed, it’s because these are false manifestations of our minds. These feelings usually arise when we give energy to negative thoughts like “Why do I have to suffer? Are those people judging me?” Things like this. If you can learn to hack into your mental and master your mind, you will master your life. Instead, try to focus on the positive. How can you utilize this experience to help you grow as a person? What lessons have you learned through out this process? If you can learn to look at this experience as a teacher, every day will be like going to class to learn something new about yourself. What’s important is to have some time alone through out your day. Maybe for a half hour every night, think about how your day went and the experiences you encountered and if you learned anything from them.

You are not your body

Our bodies are merely containers for what’s inside. Sure, people may stare at us and all, but rise above this and show them what’s inside. Yes, sometimes we suffer and we flare and we itch, but you know what the best part about this experience is? It’s temporary. My mantra for whenever I feel super down in the dumps is “Temporary suffering. Permanent healing.” Trust the process. Focus on the fact that you’re going to heal, focus on the positives in life, focus on showing people your spirit, not your body, and you’ll be okay, and remember – our physical appearance is superficial. Real beauty radiates from within.

People can’t read minds

Oh, if only people could only understand how we feel without us speaking, that would be amazing wouldn’t it? But unfortunately, that’s not the case. In order for people to truly understand what you’re going through, you’re going to have to walk them through it. I know this can be mentally exhausting. Telling people the same story over and over again is not fun. When you try and explain TSW to people, there’s two kinds of people you’ll run into: the people that get it and the people that don’t.

For the people that don’t, the quickest way to get them out of your face is to smile and nod. They’ll recommend you creams, treatments, tell you to go to the doctor yada yada yada. Just smile and nod. Continue to focus on the positive and keep on moving forward, you’re going to get through this George.

Reality isn’t as bad as our minds make it out to be

The state of our mind will reflect how we perceive the world. If we think people are judging us, our minds will convince us of this. The reality is, it’s never as bad as our minds make it out to be. Thoughts are infectious. If we can learn to switch negative thoughts with positive ones, this will work wonders. I’ve learned if you treat this experience as a big deal, people will also. But if you can learn to shrug it off, smile and continue to take on the world, nothing can stop you from doing so.

To conclude

George, you’re gonna be alright man. Some days I know it’s tough going in to work and having to face all those people, but ultimately, if you accept your condition, and choose to leverage it to your advantage, you’re going to grow in amazing ways. This experience can be extremely debilitating and super humiliating sometimes, but if you can push through your suffering and refuse to let this condition consume you, you’re a winner. In your good days, live gratefully. But in your bad days, live gracefully. Focus on the positives, focus on your spirit, focus on using this experience to grow, and by the time you know it you’ll be out of your flare and well on your way to healing. I wish you the best man!

Also, this post is universal and can apply to all. Take what you can people.

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