I've struggled with eczema for most of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of red, itchy skin; of scratching until I bled, and being fussed over whenever a rash appeared.
For those who haven't suffered from skin conditions, remember how self-conscious you feel when you have a pimple on your face? You don't want anyone to see it and your self-confidence suffers. Now multiply that by about a thousand and you have an idea of how bad eczema can make you feel, especially when it's somewhere visible. I felt diseased. Like there was something wrong with me, and all I wanted to do was hide away. And if I couldn't cover up the part of me that had a break out, that's exactly what I would do.
Sometimes it was just a red rash, and I didn't know why it was there. Sometimes it was from an allergen or just the heat. Sometimes it was insanely itchy and I would scratch until it was raw and oozed plasma, or even until it bled. People would ask what happened. How could I explain? "Just stop scratching" they'd say, not realising how difficult that was, and that it was impossible while sleeping. Sometimes the itching would be so bad that I'd run the hottest water I could stand over the itchy area, burning the top layer of skin, but bringing sweet relief.
So what causes eczema? We don't really know. There are many causes, but at it's root it seems to be an auto-immune disease caused by inflammation in the body. That's why so many things can trigger it – common allergens (nuts, eggs, gluten, shellfish, grasses), poor diet (fast food, bad oils, sugar), poor gut health, bacteria, fabrics, detergents, preservatives, alcohol, drugs, dehydration, heat, and most importantly, stress.
Perhaps more telling is the emotional cause, which can vary for each person, but there are definitely some similarities. My earliest memory is of me at about two years old, crying and alone in the dark. My mum left my dad at this age and it left me feeling like I was the cause. I felt unloved. Hurt. Abandoned. And I was angry at my mum for making me feel that way. I didn't feel safe to express myself in case my mum disappeared altogether or my dad left too, so that anger turned inwards. That red, angry energy became a red and angry rash, an expression in the language of the body for what I couldn't express verbally. Our skin is a barrier between our inner and outer worlds – it shows the outer world, and ourselves, what's inside – whether we want it to or not.
This then got attention from my parents - they would fuss over me with creams and baths and visits to doctors. And so I learnt that this rash would get me the attention and love I felt I was missing, and the pattern continued. But once I became self-conscious of my skin and those well-meaning questions about it, this attention became the bane of my existence.
When I came back from my recent plant medicine work in Peru, my body was stressed from the tough work of the plant dietas, and I had widespread inflammation, along with heart and renal issues. In short, I went through toughest integration I've ever experienced. When you do something to change your energetic nature such as an energy activation or a plant dieta, anything that is out of resonance with your new energetic nature (i.e. things of a lower frequency) come up to be cleared. And I'd just done a whole lot of things to change my energetic nature. Many things came up and were cleared during the dietas themselves, or between them, but some of those deep-seated things remained. You're also tested during integration – having to put the knowledge learnt during the work into practise; to deeply understand the healing process so as to be more effective healing others. So up came my eczema, with a vengeance. This time it was all over my body - cracked, raw and bleeding skin that was excruciating. Not to mention it looked horrible.
It was so bad that for a couple of nights I couldn't lie down due to the pain from my skin being in contact with the sheets. Hell, my skin hurt if it was in contact with anything! It was like having second degree burns on most of my body. The pain was so bad I couldn't even use meditation to keep it at bay. All I could do was stand naked (on very sore and swollen feet) or sit on the edge of a chair. Moving hurt. Standing hurt. Everything hurt. The constant pain and lack of sleep brought me to tears and I was close to going to hospital more than once.
My body was also so inflamed that eating anything that causes even mild inflammation / acidity in the body made me break out in a rash. That included any animal product (even fish and bone broth), preservatives, and other things I thought would be fine like gluten free flour!
We can normally tolerate these foods when the body is in a healthy state - our body is designed to deal with a certain level of inflammation caused by diet and lifestyle (e.g. stress). Also the anti-inflammatory foods we eat such as vegetables should outweigh the inflammatory foods to help the body. However, when our diet and lifestyle isn't in check, our bodies can get so inflamed that they can no longer handle the load. It seems likely that inflammation is at least one cause, if not the root cause, of many diseases such as auto-immune disorders, cognitive decline, mental health problems and even cancer.
I can't tell you how frustrating it was to have my skin starting to clear, only to break out 12-24 hours after eating the tiniest bit of preservative in a sauce that was added to a meal! My skin was so sensitive that even artificial fabrics made it break out in a rash! I could only wear natural fabrics like 100% cotton. 98% cotton with 2% elastine? Nope, sorry - rash.
The eczema, the pain and the fatigue sent me into one of the blackest depression I've ever experienced. It was hopeless. I thought of ending it all. When I'd eventually start to feel even a little hope, more rash would break out and I'd go right back down to that despair.
And yep, I was trying everything. Corticosteroid creams, antihistamines, immune suppressant pills, bleach baths – you name it. All of these helped a little, but drinking heaps of water (3 to 4 litres per day) and eating a super clean anti-inflammatory diet helped the most.
That is, apart from mindset.
Through the pain and the depression, wondering how long it was going to be until I could even leave the house, somehow I had to change my mindset. This was the hardest part. I noticed the words I used to describe my body showed my loathing for it. I hated it. It was disgusting. I was broken. Diseased. And then I started to see the pattern. This negative self-talk had been going on since I was a child. It's hold had been significantly loosened with all the personal growth work I'd done and it would rarely come up, but it was still there. And it was time to pull it out by the roots.
My body knew what it was doing. It was trying to communicate with me. I wasn't listening, and I was even suppressing it's communication with pills, so it was trying even harder. That part of me that was the two year old child crying in the dark needed to be heard. That anger and grief needed to be felt, expressed and released. That fragment needed to be healed and reintegrated. And the self-talk had to change. I told my body I loved it, that I was loved. That I was safe and my body was calm. I was a healer, and I could heal this. My body was perfect. I was perfect. I didn't believe any of this when I started and I felt stupid saying it, but I stuck with it.
I knew pushing my body physically would help it recover, so as soon as I wasn't in too much pain, I started exercising. At first any light exercise for a few minutes made me feel like passing out, but over the next couple of weeks my heart and my body got stronger. And more importantly, I felt better - both from changes in my body and from the endorphins released. My mindset changed along with my body – finally I could do something. This was something I had control over when it felt like nothing else was. And this feeling spread. I knew how important meditation was, especially for my eczema, and even though I felt listless and sorry for myself, I knew I had to start. And although it seemed hopeless, I made sure to do energy healings on myself, as well as receive healings from my partner. I could feel this working each time – relaxing my body and mind and improving my mood, while strengthening my energy. Slowly the rash got better. Slowly the inflammation faded. I realised all this was in my control – I could choose to be a victim and suffer, or I could choose to heal. I could trust in myself, and in the universe. This was just a lesson, a test. Slowly I healed.
Different people have different metaphysical meanings behind their illness and there is an innate language that our body uses to communicate with us. The type of illness, along with it's location, is significant. Everything is energy, and our physical bodies are a representation of our energetic state - the body, mind and spirit all affect each other. People like Teal Swan and Evette Rose go into much greater depth on the metaphysical cause of illness – both have numerous videos on youtube and are well worth watching.