This is your friendly reminder to never forget that what you see online is only a glimpse of reality, if that at all, and that social media is a collection of carefully curated images.  My life is not always sunshine and butterflies and for the past week, it certainly hasn’t been easy for me. I was originally set to post this yesterday, but it didn’t happen, so here it is!

Today, I am thankful for my body and to be alive and a path to healing, even if what I’m going through is the worst it’s been in a long while.

For my entire life, I’ve suffered from chronic eczema and with this–painful experiences involving food and environmental allergies, countless dermatologist and specialist trips and so many prescriptions for topical and oral steroids, I’ve lost count. I’ve only ever been told that the way to “fix” my skin problems is through drugs. And so for many years of my life, I’ve believed that I had to take these things if I ever wanted to feel relief, although I knew it would be temporary.

About 5 years ago, I began discovering alternative paths to healing eczema through food.  Becoming gluten free was a huge part in my relief and finally cutting out meat a year ago has tremendously helped.  And so with these changes, I’ve finally been able to manage my eczema. Flare ups happen, but it’s been relatively manageable. The worst part about living with this chronic condition is never knowing when the next big flare up will happen, which happens to induce my anxiety about it.  Skin is such a noticeable feature and sign of health. You can’t escape feeling “seen” when the rash is so noticeable. The thing about eczema is that is can be absolutely debilitating.  In a job where I all do is work with people and am constantly “seen” by so many eyes, it feels uncomfortable to be in my own skin, literally. The toughest part is when people see it just as “dry skin.” Eczema isn’t dry skin; it’s often painful, and when it strikes it’s often uncontrollable. It’s a reflection of a larger issue in your body.  The more I learn about my condition, the more I see that it is a reflection of my internal health.

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This year, I’ve decided that I want to heal naturally. I don’t want to rely on drugs. I don’t want to put my body through another round of steroids just to receive temporary relief,  only to find that my eczema and chronic skin allergies will come back with a vengeance.

And so last week, when I broke out in a terrible neck rash, I decided I would take the natural healing path.  This involved changing my diet to nourishing foods. I decided that I would not eat processed foods and stick to whole, natural vegetables and fruits. With this, I also decided that I would stop taking a daily Zyrtec, which I’ve been taking for the last 10 years of my life.  In high school, my doctor told me that I’d be fine if I took it for the rest of my life, and so I have been.

But recently, I’ve felt this dependency on this drug. That if I didn’t take it, my anxiety of whether or not I would break out in a rash, would strike. And so this time around, I went cold turkey and decided to stop taking it.  This has, in turn, unleashed a Zyrtec withdrawal response in which I have had an uncontrollable itch all over.  It’s been so bad that I’ve been scratching my skin raw. And with research, I stumbled across hundreds of other stories of folks who have endured this same thing I’m currently going through. I’m comforted in knowing that what I’m experiencing isn’t just me, or in my head…but it doesn’t make this experience any less difficult, uncomfortable or frustrating.

Today, I am thankful for friends and family who have offered comforting encouragement while I am not feeling my best.

Today, I am thankful for my dear friend Dianne, who brought me an aloe leaf, which has been the most comfort I’ve found to relieve the incredibly painful itching I’ve had to endure.

Today, I am thankful that there is hope for a life where I am free of this debilitating illness and that there is hope for healing.

I’m sharing my story with the hopes of updating you in a few months on my journey to healing with a positive update.  I’m sharing this because I hope that if anything, my story can help someone else who is suffering.  And if you haven’t gotten the message, please don’t take Zyrtec as a long-term treatment.  The withdrawal effects are real, they are painful, and I don’t wish what I’m going through on anyone.

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Hoping I can smile like this soon! Below is one of my favorite looks I shot while my awesome younger brother was in town a couple weeks ago. Pretty talented photographer, isn’t he? (I literally told him to keep pressing the button down like paparazzi, haha)

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What I’m wearing:

  • Anthropologie chenille sweater (Scored mine on sale, plus an extra 30% off that day in stores!)
    • Not available online anymore but here are some options!
  • Target velvet midi skirt; $22.99
    • Literally the most comfy and cute skirt!
  • Target black booties; $37.99
    • These booties are all weather and have a water resistant finish!
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