What happens to you when you feel a bout of something coming on? What’s your tell? The reason you start to panic or brace yourself for the ensuing episode? Mine is the start of my zombie features – a period where I swing between bouts of obsessing over my dry skin and general mania.
The reason I’m asking is because I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately (surprise surprise).
It goes like this – I see a wee red patch of dry skin on my right hand (kind of like stigmata! There is nothing holy about my reaction). Once I notice the patch, a sense of dread courses through my body as I fight my way to the mirror to examine my scalp – looking for signs of inflammation or crustiness. I am generally not happy until I find something, anything – YES. I am turning into a zombie – I knew it.
The reason I relate my ‘symptomatic’ state to that of a zombie is because they both share similar physical features – such as:
- Falling hair
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- White coating on the tongue
- Dark circles under eyes
- Red, chapped flaky skin
I know all of the above can also be signs of other stuff – an allergic reaction, an intolerance to dairy, wheat or countless other things or simply some sort of infection. I have thought and thought (and thought again) about all of these things – usually on a loop once I notice that bastard patch of skin appear on my right hand.
The internal reaction to my physical appearance becoming zombie like is usually mild to manic panic. Constant worry and questioning about WHY this is happening, WHAT is causing it and HOW can I stop it?
My obsession with spots are a recurring theme – maybe they are indeed the problem and I have brought all of this on myself. The constant questions my brain asks along these lines are also a clue that I am experiencing ‘an episode’, ‘being symptomatic’ or just having a generally shit time of it.
I find it hard to concentrate at work or in conversation – probably because my brain is busy asking the same stupid effing questions over and over. I also find it hard to make decisions – what to wear, what to eat – total brain fog.
How does noticing this help?
I’m unsure which came first and now which feeds what, but as soon as I see that little red patch or start to feel the other symptoms, feelings or manic thoughts – I try and remember it’s just thoughts, red patches or an inability to make a decision. I don’t let one add to the other and make me feel worse.
I think naming something, realising what’s happening and being prepared is useful – eventually. It takes time but every time one of these smaller things happens – I call it out for what it is – just something that’s happening which isn’t the end of the world.
As I now know what’s coming – just my feelings, just a patch of skin & just my own thoughts – they have less power over me and are gradually becoming easier to manage.
Thank you for sharing. I once had Alopecia Areata a number of years ago which was caused by emotional stress; I was in a job that I loved but in an environment and with an employer who made me feel very uncomfortable (I’m a nanny). I overcame it and my hair grew back. This morning I discovered a new patch and again am in a situation where I am unhappy and find being in my role emotionally stressful in a massive way. When I first discovered the patch I was wondering whether it could have been a reaction to a new hair product I have recently tried, that was until I noticed the tell-tale cholinergic urticaria on my arms, which I haven’t had since I last had developing AA. The positive for me is that in eight weeks the job will be finished and I’m fully aware now of just how important it is to put my needs and happiness above anything else and that my decision to stick this job out foe another year was a bad one! Anyway, mainly the thanks is for the reminder to spend time everyday being mindful, I have just downloaded a meditation app to do some guided morning meditation and I’m also planning to up my Yoga sessions from once a week to twice to help see me through the next eight weeks. I wish you well in your healing journey.
Hey Dusky – thanks so much for this great comment. And thanks for sharing your own personal journey. You seem to know how to deal with your triggers and know what to seek out that helps you. Being more mindful, accessing more yoga and meditation will help all areas of your life – not just your alopecia/urticaria. I think I am now in a similar position to you when I know whats coming – I know what to change. I wish you luck with the rough patch (literally) you are going through and wish you well on the other side 🙂