The reality of getting through topical steroid withdrawal is not always what you imagine when you set out on the path towards healed skin. Guest blogger Harriet Hammond looks at how topical steroid withdrawal puts the brakes on life and plans.
You make your plans, and then life comes along and gets in the way...
Unless you are someone who flies entirely by the seat of your pants and doesn’t mind where life takes them, most people will have some sort of plan for how they would like their life to pan out. Whether it’s a career, plans for a family or just where to go on holiday this year, it’s fairly normal to think ahead and have plans or goals on the horizon. Topical Steroid Withdrawal is very likely to affect your plans in most aspects of your life, in varying severity and for differing amounts of time.
For some people, going through Topical Steroid Withdrawal is something they choose to go through and they choose when to start. For others, they end up in withdrawal because they’ve run out of creams, are forced to stop for medical reasons, or go through it without even understanding what is happening to them. Most would find it hard to choose ‘the perfect time’ to go through something like TSW, as who would want to block out months or years of their life to stay at home, take time off work and miss out on all the fun stuff while suffering through some pretty awful symptoms?!
But what if you reframe it and ask yourself ‘When will I dedicate the time to investing in my health for long-term freedom from pharmaceuticals and the never-ending confusion and doubt about everything you touch, eat and do?’
Before I knew what TSW was, I was in a constant state of confusion about what was happening with my skin. I used to say I’d give all my money to be able to have ‘normal’ skin. In the end it has cost me thousands of pounds, over two years and a lot of disruption to my life.
When I started TSW I had just moved in with my boyfriend and we were planning to buy a house and move to a new area within the next 6 months. I was going to leave my job and hoped to start a new career. There had been talk of getting married, having children and finally being able to get cats!
All this had to be put on hold, and instead I moved back out and in with my parents. I had to take 3 months off work but managed to keep my job; social plans were on hold indefinitely and I just focused on surviving this journey through hell, one day at a time. Just when I started to feel my life could return to some sense of normality and we again made plans to move house and jobs, coronavirus came along and again put all those plans to the side!
Now that coronavirus is imposing restrictions on the daily lives of everyone around the world, it is interesting to note the similarities and comparisons of what I have been experiencing for years to what others are now having a taste of. The isolation; the feeling of time passing us by; feeling detached from the world, yet connected with those going through the same thing; the longing for answers to questions of ‘when will this be over?’, ‘when can we go back to normal?’ Whatever the challenges we face that set us back or make us start over, they provide us with an opportunity to grow in strength, learn compassion and gain perspective for what matters most for our next chapter.
I am still in the same job, I am back living with my boyfriend in his flat and I have no cats... yet! You can hear ‘everything happens for a reason’ a million times, but it doesn’t actually change how you feel about things in that moment. With hindsight though, you can usually see that things do have a way of working out and whatever diversions you may take in life, if you can roll with the punches, you can get back on track. Your healing journey doesn’t need to take up all the pages of your story; it’s just one chapter - about strength, resilience and learning about your body and your spirit.
Sometimes we can have an expectation that happiness or fulfilment is waiting just around the next corner...but then there’s another corner, and another! We can end up feeling like we’re never getting where we want to be, but working on yourself is a continuous process with goals being met along the way, with new levels being unlocked all the time, leading to endless levels of growth. It can be an opportunity to start new relationships, new careers, relocate or change your focus.
If you ask anyone who has been through TSW and come out the other side, you will no doubt hear something along the lines of “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, but the best thing I ever did.”