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  • Aaliyah Iona

It's a pity you can't turn stress "off"

Apparently if you stress less and drink more water you'll be healthier and live longer. But what happens when you just can't help but stress.

Stress is a funny thing you’re aware can affect your health, but, you don’t appreciate the full extent until it directly affects your own. You hear your mom describe herself as stressed and you do tend to think "Alright!". I'm sure I've gone as far as to roll my eyes at my mom. Yet here I am, 23 years old having experienced my own series of stress-related symptoms and anxiety, I've come to realise stress is a real thing. Your mind and body will suffer, and you need to listen.

The fear of death is something I probably taunt myself with daily. I'm aware I shouldn't and I don't do myself much justice worrying about it constantly, but if I'm honest I don't even know how to stop. Four weeks ago my family experienced an unexpected death in the family and it shook me. When I think about the root of my stress, it isn't so much my own grief, but, my parent’s. I've feared how they would grieve losing their second parent and if they'd grieve at all. Furthermore, I've felt really guilty about no longer living at home to console them. When I'm actively stressing, I shut everyone off and eat less than usual - I was prepared for this. Still, my usual worrying, on top of worrying that I'm worrying, worrying for someone else and my own teary episodes have equated to a mare. As a result, my skin has gone into crisis mode.

After a Face-timing my mom sobbing like a child and a doctor's appointment, I’ve learnt what I’m experiencing is Pityriasis Rosea. I have the tendency to get Tonsillitis and viruses when I'm stressed, but, unlike either, there’s nothing I can take or do to “get rid” of it. I just have to let it do its thing (lucky me!). It can last between 6-12 weeks or in exceptional cases, 5 months. Now, given I always wind up being that 15-20% of the population that most things happen to, I will brace myself for the next 4.5 months.

It has been four weeks now and indeed the itching and sizes of the patches aren't half as bad, particularly from a distance. Nevertheless, I am still no way near to the clear skin I had before. I had what is called a herald patch on my chest and a large proportion of the rash has been on my torso underarm and neck. During the first two weeks, I was literally looking at my body in disgust as they were so red and prominent. I saw online that sitting in the sun can help and I did try this one late afternoon, but after 15 minutes the rashes were so bright I went back indoors. Did it help? I can't honestly say as I was really put off by how red and itchy I became so I didn't do it again. What are my feelings now? I'm less bothered. I think my biggest concern initially was what people would think as they can look unsightly. The second was “Bikini-Season”, with summer approaching that vain part of me which intended on flashing my progressive abs across 'the Gram' was irritated. For now I'm applying aqueous cream sometimes three times a day and I've put away my scented body washes until my skin is less sensitive (cocoa and shea butter included) *cries*. It’s funny because I remember watching an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians years ago where Kim was complaining about her psoriasis, and I thought surely it’s not that bad. Come to find out during my own spate of skin crisis, it really is awful. Everyone says they can't tell, but you knowing is enough. The burning sensation when it's dry and itchy is more than enough. 

Do I know how to worry less? No. Its a working progress. When I see posts/ blogs on how to cope with stress to an extent I do think its easier said than done. But what I will say is this, the mind is a powerful thing. Try counterbalancing your negative thoughts for a positive one and you can feel better. 

If you're suffering from a skin condition I just wanted to emphasise you're not alone. It's f*cking sh*t. I can't wholeheartedly tell you to embrace it because it is hard, but no one has perfect skin 24/7. Theres "good skin days" and then there is Photoshop. That's it. If it's anything like Pityriasis Rosea, then take comfort in it not being permanent. If your condition is permanent, you're still not alone. Vitiligo, psoriasis, acne, birthmarks and the rest can be seriously frustrating, but it doesn’t define you. Some days you’re more sensitive than others, and that’s okay too. Besides my visit to the doctor, I did search for people's experience online and following a conversation with my cousin who has suffered with Pityriasis Rosea too, I felt a lot better.

For now its simply a waiting game and all I can do is laugh that I actually rang my mom crying because I thought I had measles. Measles would have cleared by now. It was pretty dramatic, but still it is okay!

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