stress and skin

blogs, instagram facebook  are funny things – they can tell a lot about a person – what they are doing, what they like, but at times, you do wonder how much of it is true or how much is a persona.  I too am guilty to this;  I know that people may look at my feeds and say how lucky I am – I have a full and interesting life, always travelling, seeing things, doing things, but even I get blog/instagram envy, thinking ‘wow what a wonderful life they are leading’, and then realising that I am victim to the same thing.  its a very British thing to always want to portray a perfect life and that things are going well, but then I look to myself and realise that maybe everyone has hidden problems, worries and anxieties and that this modern way of living is quite deceiving and harmful in that it makes us repress our true feelings. we have realised that there is widespread depression amongst the youth – has social media something to do this?

I admit that I have had the most stressful year of my life – a wedding, a child going to  a high achieving university away from home, another child finishing uni, but worried about getting a job, a mother with increasing dementia – the list is endless – coupled with going through the time of change in a woman’s life, it really adds up to a recipe of anxiety, stress and high emotions.  it hasn’t helped that I got a lot of skin allergies this summer, either it was the heat, the pollution, mosquito bites, topped with the added stress, but I suffered terrible bouts of excema /dermatitis like issues – some of which have got worst and some better.  it not only caused me much grief and worry, but it impacted on my whole family.  its not easy to look at one’s life and appreciate what you have, hormones and issues can really impact on your wellbeing, both physically and mentally and make you act in strange ways.

there were several things that I consciously did to lift myself out of the spiralling despair – take up meditation and mindfulness, speak openly with my girlfriends (some of whom I am sure got sick to death of listening), go out and find inspiration – I found sitting in made me feel worse, looking at your excema getting worse on your face just made me cry , which in turn made it even more worse.   in all of this, I discovered that skin issues are  difficult and complex for both alipathic and natural medicine;  I tried everything, from acupuncture, to nutritional diet, kinseologist, dermatologist  and even had to concede to using steroids, (which should be avoided but does calm things temporarily) especially around the time of my daughters wedding to clear up the face.   what really helped was taking out the dairy in my diet,  using Liz Earle cleanser and moisturiser for sensitive skin, washing with Dermol 500, chickweed cream (stellaria by Helios), and Dermalex.   I have tried so many creams, some worked for a day or two, but the simpler the better.   one lady, Tina Stonely – a nutritionist, was key to helping me understand about food groups and what I needed to avoid;  she is living proof that you can keep youthful and healthy with good common sense eating.  I seemed to have turned a corner recently and although the skin complaints have not completely gone away, they have definitely improved and I have learned how to manage them.

10 thoughts on “stress and skin

  1. Christina I read your very honest blog about how your skin has responded badly to the stress you’ve experienced this year nad hormonal changes. I wanted to suggest 2 things which you may have not discovered and may be comforting- Firstly the power natural oat milk has to calm eczema quite dramatically. Make little muslin pouches of oats tied off with twine (the size of a decent golf ball maybe a little more). Let it run under the tap wilst you fill the bath and then squeeze the oat juice/milk into the bath. I also use this in the basin for my face. It can be quite a miracle worker… Also you might like to look up The Contented Dementia Trust and get to know the work of Penny Garner who started it. Her dementia care program is extraordinarily bespoke, creative and fascinating – and greatly improves the lives of those with the disability. There is a book with the same title and short training courses at her centre in Oxfordshire. I got to know her quite well when I cared for my mother who had dementia and have the utmost respect for her – the work has gradually slipped into more mainstream organisations now because it is quite simply marvellous. Although it took quite a bit of effort to convince paid care workers and even family at times to work with me ( so many people cannot see beyond their own drivers even when caring for others needs) when they saw the results they were bowled over. I had a really rich last chapter with my mother once I learned how to map her world so closely that I could genuinely share it. I think it may suit creatively driven people best who might more easily join in the ballet (and enjoy it even) with the person who has the disability of dementia. Check her out she is so very supportive once you get to know her. All best wishes to you – remember the light is always reaching into the shadows…

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    1. thank you Rose; I kind of knew about oat milk, but more in the product Aveeno, which I tried and worked a bit at first, but the pure oats sounds good. I have had to avoid too much showering and water as the blisters were opening up all over my body! thank you about the dementia info, and I will seek it out; its more dealing with my brother who is her everyday carer, as I don’t live in the same city – he has not quite realised how bad the dementia is, and to be honest at times, you don’t notice it and you forget that she has it. I meant to say, that being positive and always remembering what a wonderful family you have definitely saw me through the worst patches. I definitely now understand what depression means and how it can take over your life very easily. have a lovely day and much love for your care and words. christina x

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      1. The oats have worked really well in my experience Christina. If avoiding water maybe make up the muslin parcels, wet them through in the sink and just squeeze the milk directly rather than taking a bath – you can sort of roll the whole thing over your skin like a sponge. Worth a try anyway I am sure. Not much is said about how the mid life hormonal changes can affect mood we are so busy discussing the physical symptoms – so don’t ever think you have been visited by a dark spirit – diet, meditation and lifestyle things will help so much i am sure and keep it mind it will pass and your body find a new balance. I rather think people in our age group have been the most emotionally buffeted by the endless reporting of an apparent rise of inhumanity in the world and the endless upheaval and uncertainties in our own country. Truly we have to try and live without heartbreak. I once heard Laurie Anderson speak about the five principals she and Lou Reed lived by one of which was to know sadness but not to let it make you unhappy. I also like a beautiful Zen saying – ‘When my house burned down I was better able to see the moon.’ You have had so much change recently with children grown and gone and your mothers situation and now the hormonal shift as well. Also I think you have rennovated a house! Good lord I say congratulations are overdue!! But a rest for mind and body sounds overdue as well- Change will summon in just as much joy I am sure in other ways. A new moon! Your warrior children will return with magical new experiences for you to share. Read the Contented Dementia book it is very uplifting and outlines what Penny Garner call the SPECAL method. Try and dance spontaneously in the kitchen and find your favourite clown… (The best clowns after all have real pathos…) My beautiful mother was not always easy even when she was well so I was glad to have a strange new intimacy with her which the best dementia care enables. If I was to write about it I would probably call the book Did you leave a note for the cat? Which is not in any way to diminish the journey opening up to you and your brother just realise it can be a contented time for your mother if well handled. Men are rather resistant I have found to navigating new nueral pathways – their own and others but hopefully he will also find help also form the book. That’s quite enough from this stranger woman! Keep in mind you are not alone with your experiences – learn to really look after yourself rather than having everbody elses care so much now. That may also be something you are resisting unconsciously – the role of motherhood is primordial after all and can easily become our main identifier however much else we are involved with – and it is of course a beautiful and life long one but we have to be our own mothers in middle age. Tak care – be well. You will be. xx

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  2. Hello Christina,

    When things are looking bleak, if you can summon up the energy, the absolute best thing is to go out and look at something beautiful that inspires you.

    Today I went to the Fashion & Textile Museum in BermondseyStreet to see the most fabulous 1930’s fashion exhibition. I sold vintage fashion for many years so am quite knowledgeable and I was so impressed with the glorious fashions on show, absolutely stunning. I know you love vintage clothes so do try and go, the clothes are beautiful. There is also the added bonus of some wonderfully glamorous Cecil Beaton photographs on show.

    Take care
    Val

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  3. Oh no Christina, someone else is having problems with eczema. I have not had this problem since I was a child and all of a sudden this year just before my 60th birthday my skin has broken out with it. I have tried everything including steroids and it cleared up for awhile but kept coming back. Then I went to Jamaica to visit my parents and I went to their GP and he gave me a different steroid cream and some piritone tablets to stop the itching and in the hot weather and the different climate, fresh food etc it cleared up only to return when I came back to the UK. I now have patches of it on one side of my leg and the front of my feet. Not helpful that I am under a lot of stress at the moment because my Mum is very sick in JA and not being so far away is causing a lot of anxiety. I am now using a different steriod cream recommended by Doctor but grateful for the different remedies mentioned above and will give them a try. Pauline

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  4. Ah Christina what a heartfelt post. Very honest. I feel for you. My life is also perceived as blessed by others which it is, to outsiders, as I choose not share my pain and grief and try to present the positive also. My son has autism and his placement has broken down which is very stressful. My mother also has dementia and that’s very stressful. I love your posts as I find them very informative and uplifting. I have been using magnesium flakes in my bath which I find have helped me sleep better but suspect you may have tried them already! I make a list everyday of what I can deal with today to try not to let myself get overwhelmed with the mountain of worry of things I need to fix as most of it is out of our hands. We can only guide and try to come up with solutions even though they may be short term solutions. I use them as building blocks to get to my end goal..take time out for yourself. I treated myself to a Rixo dress yesterday as an early Christmas present to myself. That made me feel MUCH better!! Short term fix for long term problems! xxx

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  5. Dear Christina, women of our age often have so much to cope with and sometimes it’s just too much .. we have children, elderly parents, work, homes to run etc etc .. and we just keep going !
    I also have a mum with dementia as do many of my friends .. it’s such a terrible wicked disease but I’m getting to a point of some acceptance which helps me to cope. I find just being outside with nature really helps.
    I really hope you start to feel better soon and thankyou for your lovely posts.

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