Dealing with eczema………a Few hints and tips Part 1

*I am not a doctor. These are not tips I have learnt from spending eight years in medical school. These are things I have found that work for me*

The other day myself and my mom were stuck in a traffic jam together. She had picked me up from college for yet another doctors appointment. I was ruminating once again over the fact that this boy I had been seeing had rejected me. In a pretty unusual and mildly mortifying way, he had written me a rejection letter and not invited me to his 21st birthday party, and she turned to me and was like ‘Honey, you’re fucked. You are fucked and you’re wrecked’. I couldn’t have put it better myself mom. She is right though, at this precise moment in time I look a little like the elephant mans less attractive cousin. Why? Because my eczema which has been more or less dormant since I was hospitalized with it when I was five has come back with a BANG! After years of being pretty much normal I am now shedding like a snake, have chronically dry skin, dry skin to the point that my lips have started to crack and bleed and I itch myself so much when I am sleeping that I am covered in all these little purple bruises. I have looked better. The worst thing though is that I haven’t slept properly in soooo long that I am operating on about 40% all the time.

What I am getting at kids is this isn’t my first time at the rodeo. The tips I am about to give you all are hard earned and have been garnered through a trail and error system. Maybe they won’t help you but at least you can try them and see if they do!

First things first……..

I hope to goodness you are not using fabric softener, scented detergent or anything that is not non-bio. If you are……well just don’t because that is A CRIME AGAINST YOUR SKIN. Get non-bio detergent, the least abrasive one possible. This goes for your cleaning agents too. Would you be happy to spray zif on a baby’s highchair and let them eat off it? No, (hopefully) if you have chronic skin condition or sensitive skin YOU ARE THAT METAPHORICAL BABY. Go to your local health food shop and see if they have any natural cleaners. Or better yet use hot water with vinegar in it. It does the trick. 

Cleanliness is next to godlinesss………

When you haul yourself into the shower are you surrounded by heavenly shampoos, scented soaps and luscious bath foams? If you are, haul your ass right back out of there. Have you ever wondered what gives those products there scents?? Lots and lots of chemicals. All those boys and girls out there with resilient skin can handle them but we, us sensitive skinned darlings, can not. Use non scented soaps, don’t use bodywashes and get shampoo which is as natural as possible. I use this http://www.jasonnaturalcare.co.uk/ I use the sea kelp one as anything sea related is good for eczema. Very important; While lavender is lovely and natural it actually causes you to shed your skin faster which if you have dry skin is not what you want. For my birthday my mom got me this http://organeem.com.br/us/neem.asp as a present. Its more expensive so if you have the budget for it I would recommend it!

Washing tips;

  1. Make sure it is WARM and not HOT. This is a bitch but heat irritates dry skin so just deal with it.
  2. Keep your showers short. Water drys out the skin.
  3. Pat yourself dry, do not rub yourself dry.
  4. Apply your moisturizer as soon as you get out of the shower.
  5. Baths are key. Oats are really good for dry skin. So when you are having a bath place about 200g inside a thick cotton sock. Attach it to the tapes and let the water run through it. 
  6. This will probably make you deeply unpopular with your honey BUT try to keep shaving for special occasions. Shaving drys out your skin and dry skin causes you to itch more which in turn makes it worse. 
  7. When I am wearing make up I take it off with just water and a cloth and then immediately put on my moisturizer. I have chronically sensitive skin so I can’t use anything on my skin but http://www.econatural.ie/eczema-skin-care/481-salcura-zeoderm-skin-repair-moisturiser.html and http://www.econatural.ie/eczema-skin-care/363-biona-organic-virgin-coconut-oil-2-x-200g.html. My rule of thumb is the less ingredients the better.
  8. If you can afford it I would recommend getting http://www.econatural.ie/eczema-skin-care/480-aalgo-natural-seaweed-powder.html. You will have no friends as it smells very, very, very strongly of seawed but it will do wonders for your skin. 
  9. If you guys are anything like me, having such bad skin can make you feel a little crappy, whatt I try to do is keep my hair as clean as possible. This always makes me feel better!
  10. This is possibly the most important tip. Keep your nails really, really, really short. They are carries of infection. Dirt gets trapped underneath them and tehn transferred into your skin while you are scratching. This can cause blood poisoning.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…….

Beauty is a tricky one. At the moment my skin is reacting to absolutley everything so I keep make up wearing for when its really necessary. I only use http://www.laroche-posay.ie/product-treatments/Tol%C3%A9riane-Teint/Toleriane-Teint-Fluid-Foundation-p3999.aspx as it has beautiful coverage and its not a killer on your skin. All of the beauty products I use are La roche Posay as I prefer tehm over Vichy but its a matter of choose. I don’t use any perfumes, scents or deodrants. My skin just can’t handle it. If I am feeling a bit out of sorts and want to something faintly normal girlish I make this face mask

pretending to be normal face mask;

A few spoonfull of oats

enough water to soften them

-apply to face and leave on until it hardens and then wash off. It works as an exfoliator and a face mask.

I will be doing part two of this shortly. One of the most important things I have learnt through all of this is try not to let it get you down. There are some days when my skin is so bad that I can’t wear make up to cover it and people stare and occasionally ask me whats wrong and I come home from college and cry but really……it could be A LOT worse. My advice is find things that make you feel better like watching your favourite films or hanging out with your mates or listening to your favourite music and try not to dwell. 

Stress also aggravates bad skin. I do mindfullness breathing excercises at night to help deal. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness_(psychology).This helps as does fresh air and walking.

That is all for now but there will be more soon!

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Birthday cake……..(sort of)

So yesterday was my 21st Birthday!! How exciting, and exciting it may not have been but it was definitely one of the sweetest, loveliest days I have ever had! It was very family-centric which is just what you want. They indulged me in all my favourite things, slightly off-beat romcoms, bombay aloo, and of course delicious treats that are free from wheat dairy and refined sugar. I have been looking over my blog recently and it struck me that I have become very angsty online.

Now that is not to say that sharing your dark days with people is a bad thing. What I am saying though is that sometimes people like me, people who live very much inside their own head, can forget the bigger picture and misrepresentate themselves. Yes I am very prone to down days and I can have jumps of time where things seem impossibly hard BUT and this is a big but I am a surprisingly optimistic person. When I am having good days the sun shines so bright and things have never been so sweet.

This is a recipe I adapted from Green Kitchen Stories yesterday when I was the single happiest person in all the land.

Fat Almond Pancake;

  • 590mls of milk of your choice (almond, soya etc)
  • 5 eggs
  • 4 tbs of buckwheat flour
  • 200gr almond flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbs of maple syrup
  • 2 tbs organic butter or coconut oil melted.

preheat the oven to 180’c

Whisk the eggs until they are frothy. Add in the milk and all the dry ingredients and mix until smoooth. Add in the melted coconut oil. Grease the square baking dish and place in the oven for 50 minutes or until the top is golden and your fork (when placed in the middle) comes out clean.

I ate this blissfully with maple syrup, yogurt and berries and it was delicious.

Moving on

This week I am moving out of my childhood home once again to a ‘hip’ part of town with my two of my best friends. And yet I am filled with fear and something that is similar to dread. Yet I love these girls and miss them so much when I am not living with them and last year all I wanted to do with every fibre of my very being was move out. So why am I filled with inertia now?

Maybe it is because I don’t have a job which is very scary, this means I have 20 days to find one or it won’t even matter and I will HAVE to move home. Perhaps it is the potential debt I could get myself into. To be really extistentialist about the whole thing it could be that I have no confidence and I don’t know if I am even able to get a job or if I will wind up working in a soul crushing hell hole like I did this time last year.

If I am being brutally honest though it is probably none of the above and simply that living with my family makes me feel normal and gives me an excuse not to join in with the other kids. I don’t have to pretend and fake it with my family. They love me for exactly who I am and above everything else they think I am sane. They don’t really get worried and look at me in that slightly pitying way. They always hang out with me and they don’t make me feel insecure and they look after me so that I don’t always have to be looking after myself.

This is a double edged sword because I really need a job and to get my shit together and to move on and to not hide behind my perfect suburban life and instead make something of myself. Two months have gone past and I am no closer to being a functioning human. Instead I have become slightly scatty, flat and so laid back I am horizontal. Not Righteous.

Let’s Talk about……..happiness

Happiness is a strange beast. We spend so much of time and lives trying to capture it with as I can see very little success rate. And yet on certain days for no reason at all its there in all its memories from childhood, the boy you like smiling at you for the first time, making that bus you were running for glory. This is because (sometimes I have these realizations and I feel the need to write them down because I know they are fleeting) happiness is in reality just a feeling. It is brothers of anger, sister of fear, aunt of sorrow. They are all one of the same emotional family tree. You could no more be happy forever than you could be continuously sad or mad. 

And we need all those other emotions to make those moments of happiness shine even brighter. It is also, like much in life, a choice. People can chose to be happy. For example I am not a happy person by nature, I am prone to a touch of the blues and melancholy. And most days I wake up and I make the conscious decision to be happy. I use mantras, I sing my favourite songs loudly in my head so that I can’t hear my own thoughts. In short I try to get on with it. For a very long time I thought I was the only one, and then I found other bright sunshine-y girls like me who were not very sunshine-y on the inside at all. So I thought that I would write this so that other people out there could read it. Don’t Hate, Appreciate.  

A quick hello

This is more a drop in then a proper blog post. It is a quick hello to say that I haven’t forgotten or completely forgone the blogging the world. In fact one of the reasons that I have been so footloose and fancy free with this blog (which is no excuse I know! I know!) is because I am doing a food blogging internship with another company. What a twenty first century thing to do. This blog however involves deadlines and research and very many other things. It is very interesting though, they give a lot of constructive criticisms and tips on how to refine my writing style. It has also given me a distraction from returning to college which i viewed with a mixture of apathy and dread.

This has not been the case though. College is fine. The lecturers are grand and I don’t mind being back so much. Even though I have no job, no house (more on this in the next blog) no money I am strangely chill about the whole thing. This is a HUGE shock because normally a set of circumstances like that would be enough to drive me to despair. I think I may be growing up……..rad.

Let’s talk about……….just getting on with it.

It’s been a while since I last posted anything. If this blog was a plant it would surely have gone the way my parsley bush went. Dead outside the back door through lack of watering and nurture (my new parsley bush has fared a lot better). So my last blog was full of anguish, uncertainty and first world problems. So much so that my friends little brother suggested changing the name of the blog to “It’s so angsty”. I was really overwhelmed by the amount of response I got though which was heartening, I was getting concerned texts and mails on Facebook on for several days after. After sitting down and thinking about things I realised that the best thing for me to do was just get on with it. Which obviously was the inspiration behind the title of today’s post. 

A while ago I mentioned a book called The Confidence Trap. It’s a little babe of a book that caters to mentallers like me who are inclined to get a touch of the blues every now and then. In it are all these wonderful exercises that sound really cheesy but are actually very helpful. They have names like “Leaves on the stream”, names that would usually make me balk but are in fact endlessly useful. The purpose of them is to give neurotic, over-thinkers like myself a break from the constant noise in their heads. 

They made me sit down and really think about what was going. I began to think about what this line of thinking would really achieve. It neither changes anything or makes it better. I could believe I was worthless and useless and ugly until the cows came home but it wouldn’t make me worth anything or useful or better looking. As the book says at one point “ask your self are these thoughts constructive in terms of making the life you want to lead”.At the end of the day this is who I am, this body and this mind is what I have got to work with for as long as I live. Tomorrow and the next day and the day after that it will still be my eyes that are opening and seeing the sun. And that thought had a profound effect. Life is hard enough with out you making it harder, there are going to be so many tradgedie’s  and joys and big events to contend with that really my mind doesn’t need to making more.

One of my favourite exercises was this one where you had to cover your eyes with your hands, so that all you could see was darkness. After a minute or two of this slowly but surely you had to bring your hands down away from your face. The author asks to you take heed of all the different sites you see and all the colours rushing in and vying for attention. How bright the world seems after so much darkness. He tehn goes on to aptly point out that this is what our thoughts can do to us. We can get so caught up in what’s going on in our heads that we forget to notice what is going on outside of it. 

So, I haven’t started looking for a job yet, in the meantime I have a stall in the a flea market in town where for the first time ever I am selling the kind of cakes that I bake. The first time I did it I was so nervous I thought I was going to get sick. But I did it, it’s been a long time since I did anything that I just wanted to do because I enjoyed it. It felt nice, it felt right. That combined with the fact that I have stopped drinking means that September isn’t a scary debilitating prospect any more. It’s amazing how far a little fun can go in making things more manageable. 

Peanut butter biscuits inspired by Green Kitchen Stories

These were done instead of every single other thing I should have been doing! Enjoy. Also it doesn’t matter if you use crunchy or smooth. They work just as well with both.

Ingredients;

  • 2 cups of spelt flour (I use Doves Farm)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 tahini
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Method;

Preheat your oven to 180’c. In a bowl put in all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl put in all the wet ingredients and mix them until they have formed a kind of paste. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and them mix until well combined. Roll the mixture into about 16 small balls and then flatten with the palm of your hand and mark the top with a fork. place on a tray and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. Allow to cool.

Perfect for making and eating when the outside world has momentarily lost its appeal and there are so many trailers to watch on youtube.

Let’s talk about………….Fear

So here I am sitting in my freshly cleaned kitchen avoiding reality and the outside world. So far I have tidied my room, done the washing up, baked biscuits (recipes and photos will follow) and done some kind of elaborate bee-hive hairdo. What I have avoided doing is studying for my repeat exams, looking for a job, applying for tax back in London, booking my doctors appointment, or thinking about what exactly it is that I am going to do next year. I also have yet to go into the cafe where I dropped samples of my baking into to ask if they are interested or not. And why? Because I am, to put it simply, scared shitless. 

This past year has been one long exercise in low I can sink and now that it has come to an end I feel wrecked. I feel bruised and beaten and like my already very low levels of self-esteem can’t take another beating. It’s hard to put yourself out there and it’s even harder if at first you don’t succeed and you keep failing. The ability to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going is one that I definitely feel I am completely lacking at the moment. The feeling that i just want to be a million miles away from where I am at the moment is harder to fight than usual. I have to study for repeat exams and the will to do so was obviously lost in transit somewhere.

I think part of the reason why is because I now have an idea of what I want to be doing with my life and my future but it is going to have to take a lot of graft and hustling and hard work to get there and at the moment it is freaking me out. The feeling that you are failing before you are even starting is one that is quite hard to shake. Sometimes late at night when it is harder to keep all the swirling whirling madness at bay, when there is no body left awake to talk to, I can’t keep that insistent, niggling little thought out. The one that says “This? This is what your life is? This is what you want?! Really? Your happy with this? You think you can make it……..get a grip!”. But there is nothing else I want to do. In some ways I would love to be able to a course that guaranteed a secure career at the end, or even to be one of those carefree people who don’t over analyse every little thing, every passing event. 

It makes me feel lazy and inefficient. Which is a feeling I have never really had before. I am unwilling to do things that I don’t want to do which is the key to being successful and grown-up. I just want to go out and have fun and be young. Or I will start something, case in point dropping off my baked goods and then not follow through. Fear is a harsh mistress and at the moment she has her claws sunk so deep into me I can’t tell where she ends and I begin. I look at all these other people who are pursuing the kind of careers I want to be pursuing and they got there on the back of their own sweat, blood and tears and she is looking at them too and telling me that they all I have something that I don’t. That I will fall where they blossomed. That I am  just not quite enough. 

These are very first world problems I know. Problems that are typical to self-absorbed, middle class kids who don’t know what it truly is to struggle. However they are my problems and they are very real to me and any kind of advice or guidance would be much appreciated!

Let’s talk about…………BOYS.

So now that I have posted a recipe I am now going to post a rant. And this is a typical twenty year old girl rant. I am not going to even try to claim I am a typical twenty year old girl………let’s just say my taste in men is…….erratic. To give you some kind of understanding I will post my top five boys……

BRING ON THE BOYS………..

  1. The 17 year old who wore a cowboy hat as a fashion statement……to a new years eve party.
  2. The 32 year old with mud on his face who freaked out my housemates so much they hid all of our valuable belongings under a blanket.
  3. The Spanish man who was in his thirties who dressed like Justin Bieber, lived in a hostel and didn’t speak a word of English. 
  4. The gay guy (there is always a gay guy) who made out with his friend (also a boy) while I was in the bathroom. 
  5. The boy in leggings and long hair who told me he was “digging” on me and said “do you want to go chill somewhere” non-ironically.

…….and that is just in the past year since breaking up with my boyfriend. Who I loved. Janey mack, they say that the first love is the worst but I never thought it would be this bad. We went out when I was in London and then tried to do the whole long distance thing and it all fell apart. As it turns out when you work forty five hours a week on top of a full time college course you juaren’t really in the head space to keep the romance alive. Who knew? I barely had time to wash myself let alone skype him. It was horrendous, I have found out that the only thing worse than somebody else breaking your heart is when you break your own heart. When you let somebody, anybody into your life……when you open your self up like a book and expose your spine and say “what is mine is yours and you can take everything I have. Everything that I am is yours” and it falls apart. Then what are you left with? Apparently a low sense of self worth and extremely dubious taste in men. So this year I went from being this boys very special person to being another face in the club. 

It’s really hard to find a bloke who you actually like and find attractive. Especially when facebook is at your disposal. Facebook gives you a platform to do and say the things that you would never do or say in real life. In the last few months alone I have asked out two….Two! different boys for drinks. And to clarify these have not been boys I know well or anything. There was definitely no logic to it. But in the real world I would never have done this. In the real world all those once off encounters would have stayed just that and it would have been a nice memory but it wouldn’t have gone any further unless it was supposed to. Facebook takes the specialness and excitement out of meeting somebody new because you can just find them and then see what they are about. There’s no mystery left. 

The reason that I started on this rant is because once again I have been pursued by a boy only for him to inexplicably to fall off the radar. This is something that happens quite often to me. I had one boy spot me across the dance floor, befriend my friends so he could talk to me, spend the whole night dancing with me, put his number into my phone, take my number, text me that night and the next morning only for him to suddenly stop. Madness!! I originally thought that it must be me….but no! I have asked around and this seems to be common practice. What is up?? It makes you wonder. 

Is it so hard to just be a solid lad? My final word on the matter is…….boys get your shit together.