I of course don't have fleas but the sentiment still stands
Living with a chronic and debilitating illness can be very lonely indeed. Especially so when in one moment you're living life as intended; working hard, playing hard, having a laugh with friends and going on all manner of adventures, and in the next breath you've suddenly become so riddled with illness that you are restricted by what you can now do.
I've found out first hand the devastating impact that this can have on friendships.
I've never been a massive socialite but I did have good friends surrounding me that I could trust and have a laugh with.
At the point that I first became extremely ill, back in January 2009, pretty much out of no where I found my condition rapidly worsening despite my and the dermatologists best attempts to deter it. It was an extremely difficult year. I was in the final half of my hectic Art Foundation course, specialising in textiles and costume and had a part time evening (18hrs a week) job in a supermarket working the produce section.
I had a good group of girl friends of whom I would go out with from time to time, as well as other friends who had gone off to University but who I would go and visit. My illness became so debilitating that I could no longer get dressed and was forced to stay at home, unable to attend college to see my friends and only sometimes managing to get into work/ restricting my duties. It was like this for a few months and I found myself becoming more anxious, stressed and upset at the situation.
Fast forward a few months and although my skin was still a complete mess I managed to have more good days where I could see my friends. I relished these days and was so happy that although my confidence had been knocked I had people I could fall back on to boost me up.
In September I was finally well enough, despite still having extremely bad skin, to go off and attend University. Here I made some good friends and also met Shane. Life became manageable for the next few months, I had a routine that was working for my skin and even the new stresses of Uni and socialising weren't enough to stop me from having a good time. I finally felt as though I was perhaps "normal" again. Just with flaky, dry, eczematous skin.
January 2010 came round, a whole entire year since my bad eczema first properly began. I went to see the dermatologist at Lincoln hospital as I hadn't now seen the one near to my home town for around 4-5 months and needed some attention regarding my skin. I was given Ciclosporin and it really did help me. I still had some bad days but when my dosage was upped enough I became invincible. I could now do all sorts of unimaginable things such as going the gym, drinking with little itching, I even went home to see my Mum and the cats and my skin didn't flare one bit. My asthma did though. I was then taken off that magical drug as my blood pressure began to rise. It never worked in the same way again.
My skin started becoming really bad again. It was affecting my social life and even University. There were some subjects relevant to my course that I was unable to fully take part in because of my severe allergies, such as gilding because of the rabbit skin glue used and also the animal fur brushes to apply the gold leaf itself.
I found myself having to pick and choose events relevant to my own interests which made me become very selfish indeed. I would go on nights out, knowing that I would regret it as soon as I came home but I would only do it to my own expense. Looking back, you can't help but be selfish with a condition such as this as you know that if you do do something out of your comfort zone it will have severe implications later on for your skin, but now I feel so utterly horrible for ruining my own social life and pushing others who cared away from me.
I began to fall into a deep depression due my condition. Life was miserable. I started to become snappy at others for my short comings and in turn lost great friendships. I felt misunderstood because people didn't seem to understand the full nature of my condition and why I had become how I was. They didn't seem to realise I was in the midst of depression and it only made everything so much worse and I blamed myself. It didn't help that I decided to move out of my student house and in with Shane for personal reasons, such as being able to roam around naked without worrying about my housemates seeing me, they just saw it as me abandoning them and it just all spiraled out of control.
In my last year of University I started to attend counselling/ CBT sessions to boost my morale. They worked for me for the most part and I'm no longer in that ditch of depression but I do still struggle to maintain friendships but that's still really down to my condition. It's difficult to socialise with others when you're stuck inside the house all the time unable to get dresssed. Shane of course has been my rock in all of this. He has experienced all of my highs and lows and been there for me through thick and thin. I think because he has seen me as I am through the entirety of this he is more understanding than anyone else could ever be because he has literally witnessed it all: the state of my skin, my moods, my lowest points, my inability to maintain relationships and so on and so forth. He just gets that I am incapacitated and that I can't help it.
I think it takes someone with a great sense of commitment to fully understand the nature of an illness even if they themselves are of good health. I can understand why a lot of my 'friends' are no longer there for me, other than me turning into something of a bitch to some of them who I needed most... of which I'm incredibly sorry for, if I could turn back the clock believe me, I really would.
I also find that people are scared of the unknown. I found some of my other friends drift away from me and I can only assume it is because they are scared and they just don't know how to be there for me when times are rough.
Finding out about Topical Steroid Withdrawal has given me hope that I won't always be stuck with such a debilitating condition. I will be able to have my life back and in fact have already started to get some of it back, albeit slowly.
Next year when I'm better I want a fresh start.
This explains it better than I did