In my skin

I’ve talked quite a bit about my depression/SAD here, but until a few years ago, if someone had asked me about my health, I probably would have instantly thought of my skin.

My relationship with my skin has been fraught. I was born with dermatitis and broke out in nasty itchy eczema in reaction to all sorts of foods. The food allergies were annoying, but the skin thing was worse. The allergies became better (or rather, the food stuff decreased, and my hayfever increased), but my skin still broke out in reaction to other things. Mostly stress but also environmental factors. And there is not much that’s more awful than feeling as if you’re stuck in the prison of your own skin.

Halloween 2006 - me in a pseudo Bedouin outfit, wearing a veil Having a horrible rash on my face for a summer, not being allowed in the sun, even if I could make myself face the outside world, actually triggered what I think of as my first bout of depression. The last big outbreak I had was in 2006. I ended up going to a Halloween party in a pseudo-Bedouin, “Sheherazade” dress because it allowed me to hide my face.

Maybe the experience of feeling like a leper, stigmatized and estranged from my own body made it a bit easier for me to come to grips with my depression. The memories of sitting in a corner, four years old and unable to eat with the other kids because my hands were open, of the sensation of eyes looking at me with a mix of pity and disgust, also make it easier for me to feel connected to people with visible disabilities and chronic illnesses.

As with all returning conditions, when a wave of really bad eczema or a ‘dark time’ of depresson has passed, it’s sometimes difficult for me to remember how hard it was in the moment. For me there are a couple of songs that bring specific times back to me. I either listened to them constantly, because they made me feel not so alone, or I couldn’t listen to them at all, because they hit too close to home.

i just want to feel safe in my own skin
i just want to be happy again
i just want to feel deep in my own world
but im so onlely i dont even want to be with myself anymore
on a different day
if i was safe in my own skin
then i wouldn’t feel lost and so frightened
but this is today and im lost in my own skin
– Dido, “Honestly OK”

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very mad world mad world
– Gary Jules, “Mad World”