[special post] TSW and school

i was taking a shower one night and a distant piece of memory hit me suddenly.
(TMI: i’m still showering in the dark, not because i don’t wanna see my skin but because i’m so used to that. i actually LIKE IT!)
it was me lying to my supervisor for being late.

“i’m sorry, but i had a diarrhea this morning..”
“sorry for being late again, my feet is oozing and it took me some time to deal with it.”
“i had diarrhea again.”

some of you have wondered how i toggled steroid withdrawal and school/work at the same time.
some of you even praised me for being able to still go to school during TSW.
honestly speaking, i feel undeserving and ashamed when you all tell me how strong i am to still attend school, truth is, i didn’t attend as much school as you thought – i’m not as strong actually!
here’s how i did it, i’m NOT proud of it (at least for the parts when my skin was still horribly bad), and i do not encourage you to do the same.

========== WORK ==========

1. tough it out half halfheartedly by reporting to work lateย 

let’s rewind to april 2011.
that was the first month that i stopped steroids, but the symptoms already begun in mid march.
by april, my face was swollen but the flaking wasn’t that bad yet.
i always thought that i had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics i was taking at that time.
by mid april my skin was turning redder each day, it wasn’t before long that my body was covered in red and dry skin.

do you know what else was going on in april 2011?
i was serving my industrial attachment.
it’s part of my school curriculum, it’s akin to an internship, but for my faculty they call it the industrial attachment (since i’m from engineering, you know, engineering and industries, whereas for arts and business they call it internship..?).

what this means is that i can’t skip out on it.
so i forced myself to go to work, but there are days when i feel that my skin is absolutely horrible,
i find all sorts of excuses just so that i can stay home.
(disclaimer: my skin wasn’t as bad in the early days, but you have to understand that my point of reference was normal skin, and anything lesser than that is bad in my opinion back then, especially when i’ve never seen my skin that bad before. what an eye opener!)

as for me being late for work……
i know it’s a bad trait to have, and i know it’ll reflect badly of my character..
the thing is, i know i’ll be late, but i just had so much inertia to step out of the house.
you probably know how much courage i have to muster up to get my ass out that door.

may 2011
may 2011. skin really don’t look that bad now that i know what the monster looks like.
my swollen eyeslid look so funny.. HAHAHA don’t i look like i just had eye lid surgery?
this is part of the reason why i also “put on” on censor bar shades..
on top of keeping my identity, i really just didn’t want anyone to see my eyes like that. =_= (i looked exactly like this emoticon)
self conscious everytime ๐Ÿ˜›

i really didn’t want to go to work,
i don’t want to leave house,
i don’t want people to see me.
as a result,ย i’m late for work very often.
i would say that i’m late deliberately. just because i didn’t want to leave house.
every second that i can stay at home counts all of a sudden.

i ran out of excuses to be late quickly,
just how many “nature’s call” can i have!?

2. steal time from work whenever possible

honestly, the only thing that’s constantly on my mind when i’m at work is “I WANNA GO HOME”.
next thing on my mind is “i don’t want anyone to see me”.
i can’t accomplish my #1 wish, i can only fulfill the next one by disappearing from my seat, many times a day.
where was i?
i’m either on my way to the toilet (because i had to drink so much warm water to keep myself warm thanks to the temperature dysregulation),
or i’m dusting myself in the toilet because my ninja pants (i’ll show you guys my most worn pants in future entries!) have collected HEAPS of skin that has fallen off my legs,
or i’m sitting outside the office trying to thaw myself (again, it’s the temperature dysregulation) in the sun,
or i’m hiding in the stairwell sobbing to myself (that was my favourite place to be in because there’s no one there at all. complete privacy!).
oh, sometimes i take walks outside my office when i’m itching.

june 2011
june 2011. skin flakes all over my face.

3. working from home whenever i can

i told my supervisor about TSW and told him what to expect hoping he can understand and be more lenient towards me.
i also told him i will itch terribly at times, my skin will crack and my feet will ooze.
thankfully he’s SUPER understanding. he accommodated to most of my needs throughout my attachment!
he allowed me to work from home whenever possible.
i’m so glad that my supervisors (my supervisor and his superior) are so understanding.

4. pack up and go home at 5pm sharp despite reporting late for work

the happiest event in my life back in those days,
because i finally get to fulfill wish #1.
probably the only thing that powered me through the day, the thought that i can go home.

========== END OF WORK ==========

when attachment ended in june, i had a 1 month holiday in july.
school starts in august 2011.

========== SEMESTER 7 ==========

1. tough it out, until i can’t

i guess you already know what happened from august 2011 onward..
my 2nd flare hit me hard.
i have 3 school days a week, i managed to go to school constantly for the first 2 months..
even when i did go to school, i’ll be facing the floor ALL THE TIME.
and i’m walking ever so slowly because my ankles were cracking up and oozing the golden-yellow fluid (does the addition of “golden-yellow” make the ooze sound better? hahaha).
couldn’t wear my nikes because the tongue kept rubbing against my ankles,
survived on my converse, cotton pad and tissue paper to soak that golden stuff up.

august 2011
august 2011. i remember i can’t really laugh because those wounds near my mouth would crack open.

i went from moderately noisy to extremely quiet in class,
trying my best to be invisible.
even when i’m around my friends, i’m noticeably quieter than i used to be.
juliana finally shuts up for once in her life. hahahaha!

you might have guessed it, i’m late for school EVERY TIME (except for lab, because i don’t wanna delay my team).

my school mates don’t really dare to ask me about my red face.
they did ask if i got a sun burn..

september 2011
september 2011. the sun burn.

depending on the situation, i’ll generate different replies.
here’s a logic map of my brain.

Q1) are you close with this person?
yes -> i wish it’s a sunburn.. but it’s actually (insert the TSW story). -end here-
no -> go to question 2.

Q2) is this the last time you’ll see this person?
yes -> yes it’s a sunburn. -end here-
no -> go to question 3.

Q3) will you be seeing this person frequently?
no -> yes it’s a sunburn. -end here-
yes -> go to question 4.

Q4) is it necessary for them to understand my condition?
no -> yes it’s a sunburn. -end here-
yes -> i wish it’s a sunburn, but it’s like a skin allergy. -end here-

the very last answer will depend on how important it is for them to know about TSW.
for example, it’s pointless telling my lab partners about my condition because.. why would they care?
however, it was instrumental for me to let my final year project mentor and professor know about TSW because i know TSW will affect my performance and i need their understanding if i am not performing up to their standards.
they’re gonna grade me at the end of the day, i don’t want to let my skin affect my grades!!!

2. self-declared 1 day week (read: SKIP SCHOOL)

in october, my skin turned so bad (my face was covered with the whitish/yellowish skin flakes) i really couldn’t bring myself to leave house.

october 2011
october 2011. i go to school because i would love to scare people.

if i could i would have skipped ALL days of school,
but monday was lab day for me and it’s done in a group.
it’s unfair for my team mates if i were to go missing, transferring the burden to them, plus i really need to be there in order to do my part of the report right.
and so i was in school on monday only.

for my other classes that i skipped, i was lucky to have friends to help me take notes and convey them to me via email and text.
i was studying on my own most of the time when i can concentrate.
i really don’t recommend schooling in the midst of TSW..

1. i can’t concentrate
2. i lose motivation to study, why am i still studying when i’m struggling so hard to feel comfortable in my own skin? HELLOOOO!?!?!?!? shouldn’t i be trying to make myself more comfortable first?
3. i can’t sleep at night, i can’t focus in the day, I FAILED MY TEST BECAUSE I WAS HALF AWAKE DURING MY TEST.
4. stress is bad for the skin.
5. being seen is the last thing i want.
6. i can’t voice up in class because i don’t want people’s attention -> no class participation points.
7. depression makes everything so much more worse. studying is at the bottom of my priority list.

by november my face was in a total mess.
not only do i go to school with my face facing the ground at all times,
i let my hair down so that it can cover my face..
I LOOKED LIKE SADAKO (you know that girl from “the ring”? except i’m not crawling out from the tv. i’m just lurking around the corner.).

my impression of how i looked
this is how i think others saw me in school.

managed to make it through the semester somehow.
my grades didn’t do as well as i expected myself to.
the module which i could have gotten an A- was graded B because i failed that 2nd test.
it was such a pity because i did so well for my first test, but my second test pulled down my grades so much.
the other module scored better than my expectations.
as i failed two of the test, i expected myself to get a C but i got a B- instead.
not too bad.
you may argue that i’ve balanced out expectations out, since the middle ground of A- and C is either a B or B-.
but the truth is these 2 modules are supposedly modules that i could have scored well if i wasn’t bothered by my skin, at least B+ for both.
(yada yada yada i can go on and on about how much importance i put on my grades, but it don’t matter now anymore because it’s all in the past! plus none of my employers actually look at my grades for specific modules. it’s just a matter of not performing up to my own standards.)

and my final year project..?
you’ll find out later ๐Ÿ˜‰
the final year project spanned across 2 semester, i will only be graded at the end of the 2nd part of the project.

3. cling onto my friends like a leech

as mentioned above, my friends were pillars of strength for me back in those days,
they gave me a lot of support, super patient with me when i was bugging them with questions about the class because i didn’t attend class.
they also did most part of the group assignments so that i don’t have to do so much ๐Ÿ™‚

couldn’t have completed the semester alone.
none of my uni gang will actually get to read this by the way,
but i still want to note down how grateful i am to have them in my life,
for bringing in some laughter into my dark days (back then).
even though they can’t understand the extent of my condition, and i don’t expect them to since no one can truly understand unless they’re in it themselves (separate entry on this next time? if i can recall those rants that is.), they tried their best to make me feel comfortable

i’m very blessed. ๐Ÿ™‚

======== END OF SEMESTER 7 ========

it’s ย december 2011, my skin was at its worst.

i’ve decided that i can’t continue school like this anymore.
my skin in august was still manageable, but by december, things have deteriorated so many folds.

dec 2011
december 2011. i would really love to make babies cry.
going to school like this? NO THANKS.

the next best option?

========== LEAVE OF ABSENCE ==========

that was my exit, a safety relief valve for my battered mind and body.
till this day, i still think that it was the best decision i’ve made.

i gave the LOA a lot of thought.
on one hand i really want to quickly finish my last semester so that i can have all the time in the world after that for my skin to heal at its own pace.
secondly, there’s a major design project that requires 7 in a group and i want to work on it with my group of friends.
thirdly, i want to graduate together with my friends.

BUT, there’s always the but.
i really can’t handle school and fucking bad skin anymore.

so i chose the easy way out.

LOA from january 2012 – december 2012.
i think i can this part of the TSW for another entry, since it’s irrelevant to the topic of this entry.
i was home every single day, until 10 december 2012, i left house for the first time for a check up in school.

december 2011. first time stepping out in 2012!

the campus doctor need to approve of my returning to school in january 2013,
and she agave me the stamp of approval to return to school.

========== SEMESTER 8 ==========

after an entire year at home, i’m back in school this january.
my skin was still far from healed in january.
but at the very least, all of the bloody wounds have healed.
my skin on my body just had this strange cast, and it’s obviously more swollen and thick than normal skin,
but my face looked pretty normal. THANK GOD!!!
it was perhaps the most important part of my skin that i NEED it to look normal because it’s also the only part that i can’t cover up.

january 2013
january 2013. at least people won’t be able to tell my skin is not normal!
just a little swollen but who actually notice the little swelling?
(you might be wondering why i call this swollen. i tell my level of swelling by my ability to open my eyes wide. the smaller they open the more swollen i am.)
and i feel that the swelling made me look like i’m underage.
i probably look like the child prodigy who’s studying a degree. HAHAHAHA I WISH.
(check out my neck, look like yours? it will get better, don’t worry!)

since my energies are back, my bloody wounds are gone, my skin no longer cracks and itches uncontrollably,
i can function a lot more like a normal person does (and this makes me very happy and grateful)
i didn’t have to do much to cope with school because i wasn’t feeling uncomfortable anymore.
however, there were still stress from the workload i’m getting.

1. plan ahead of time

i foresee myself being super busy because i have to finish 4 projects this semester,
with most of the deadlines clustered towards the last 2 weeks of the semester.
unprecedented number of projects i’m undertaking at a given time!
i know that if i don’t plan my time properly, i’ll be overloaded with work towards the deadline, and this will stress me out and make my skin itch and potentially slow down my healing since stress makes the body more inflamed.

things i tried to plan ahead:
1. daily schedule
2. study schedule
3. project scheduleย 

gotta say my planning skills improved so much thanks to the motivation make my skin as calm and comfortable as possible. hahaha!

daily schedule:

i pack my bag and notes the night before school so that i wouldn’t have to rush in the morning,ย because rushing leads to perspiring.
i leave house earlier than usual so that i can stroll to the bus stop instead of chasing after that bus,ย which means i can also stroll to class instead of brisk walking because i’m late.
i get my lunch before i go to class so that i don’t have to queue up in the stuffy canteen during lunch hour (avoiding the heat and sweat).
i wake up 3 hours before i need to go to school so that i can shower, moisturize, and cool down comfortably before going to school in flexible skin.

to make sure i’m following my study schedule, i actually have this little list of daily tasks that i need to complete.
i named that file “mini milestones”.
i just love striking things out i suppose ๐Ÿ™‚

mini milestones!
my mini milestones!
tried to spice things up with fancy fonts and colours.

as for project schedule, because it’s a group project, the only thing i can do other than completing my part on time is to push others to follow the deadlines i’ve set.
yea, i was in charge because i’m desperate to adhere to my schedule while all the rest are so laid back.
(side track, i finished my final individual report several days before the deadline and had a relaxing weekend before report submission while they scrambled through the last few day and nights before the deadline. I’M PROUD OF MYSELF!)
which in turn gave me a chance to direct, something i’ve never done before because my capable friend will always be in charge.
i went from being the follower to becoming the influencer, and i actually liked it!
(note: i didn’t use the word leader because i’m not the leader. i don’t pull, i push.)
i guess the loss of control in TSW made me desire control much more than before. within my own limits of course.

despite the glory picture i just painted above, there is obviously the other side to the story of success.
there was the horror of stressing myself out early on in the semester because i was so eager to schedule all the unknowns.
i didn’t know what the project demanded of me, so i can’t really plan ahead..
but i know i need to or else i’d be screwed when all the project come together.

talk about avoiding stress.. i actually stressed myself out in the first 2 weeks of school.
after that i’m fine though! maybe it’s just a matter of time before i
1) get used to school.
2) get more information on the scope of the projects so that i can start planning.

never in my life did i expect myself to cry over school work.
HAHAHAHAHA YEA GO ON AND LAUGH AT ME, it’s fine because i’m laughing at myself too.
i’m imagining myself back then: frustrated and helpless, tears just rolled down my eyes as i stared at the heaps of textbooks that i’ve just read multiple times but can’t make any sense of. feeling completely lost in my project that accounts for 10 modular credits (mind you, 10MC is a life and death situation for my poor grades).

what a lame reason to cry.


2. covered myself up as much as possible

i would have worn a burqa to cover my face (like the saudi arabians),
but i didn’t because i was perspiring too much and that would make me uncomfortable.
back then in 2011 i couldn’t sweat and was feeling cold ALL THE TIME,
it’s a different story in 2013.
may i present to you, the revenge of the sweat glands!

never have i perspired so much in my entire life. they just sprang to life as my skin healed.
these days i perspire at the slightest temperature increment.
and i had to wear long sleeves to cover everything up, i also zip my jacket up all the way to my neck so that my neck is covered as well.

i try my best to wear loose fitting clothes that’s made of cotton (or any other fabric that is well ventilated, doesn’t irritate my skin, absorbs sweat).

school outfits
january 2013. black and grey can make me invisible in school.
i will zip up my jacket all the way up to the neck when i’m outside though.
this was in january when my neck and upper chest was still pretty red.
later on i stopped covering my neck.

i always have a pack of good quality tissue paper in my bag,
those that don’t break up into a million pieces and get stuck on your face.
extremely important in dealing with my raging sweat glands.

best tissue ever
probably my favourite import from HK other than the food.
asked my granny to buy this for me and my dad to bring it over to singapore for me.
my granny almost bought an entire carton, i laughed so hard when i saw the sheer amount of tissue paper my dad brought back.. HAHAHAH SERIOUSLY!?
a suitcase full of tissue paper? hahahahhahahaha!!!

========== END OF SEMESTER 8 ==========

and this is where i insert my conclusion.
recall i mentioned that taking the LOA was the best decision i’ve ever made,
not only did it give me a one year break to recover from the worst flare,
it gave me enough time to reassess my thoughts on school that i had for the past 7 semester.

i returned to school as a brand new person,
enjoying every class in a way that i never did before,
grateful for being able to sit in class without itching much,
participating in class more than i ever did in the past 3.5 years,
being in charge of projects instead of following orders blindly.
what changed?

i’ve taken school for granted for as long as i remember.
it’s a chore to go to school, to attend class, to sit through boring lectures.
i never ever take the time to appreciate the small little things until they were snatched away from me forcefully.

instead of thinking that i’ve wasted 4 years of my time on school,
i can now say i’ve had 1 good semester in my uni life,
the 1 semester that negated all the bad feelings that were linked to school previously.

remember in one of the RSS entries i mentioned that i never expected TSW to teach me so much?
all the changes i saw in my last semester in school are just a tiny part of what TSW did to me.

as for my final year project grade,
my professor gave me a B+.
i expected a B- or B because of the mediocre report and work that i’ve submitted.
GEEZ, it was so bad, i feel ashamed when i see my professor during class.
a B+ is actually above my expectation!!!
till this day i still don’t think i deserve that grade.

the same professor also gave me an A+ for a module that i was reading in semester 8.
a freaking A+, my first and my last.
he told me it was because my group report was well put together and that i was very active in class.
i’m extremely happy with myself because i was the one who decided on the layout and presentation of our design in the written report. the fact that my professor liked it does wonder to my confidence.
things i couldn’t have accomplished if i was still having bad skin.

at the end of the day, it’s not the grades that mattered the most.
it’s about meeting my own expectations, or performing even better than what i expected.
the sense of satisfaction i got from being recognized by my professor made me feel even better about myself.

so this is a story of how TSW impacted my school life,
how it changed me into a happier, more driven, and well-organized person.
(i’m having second thoughts about being more well organized, somehow it can be explained as a worsening of my OCD)

don’t forget this is how i look like right now.
i’m going to flash you with the flash pen from MIB.
you shall forget how i look like in the photos above.

as always,
stay strong and good luck, fellow skin warriors!

p.s. word count at 4126, DAMNNNNN!!!

p.p.s do you all prefer long ass entries like this or short updates like the RSS entries? let me know!


28 thoughts on “[special post] TSW and school

  1. Love this post!
    Despite all this confessions, I still have utmost admiration for your tenacity man! 8 months into withdrawal, and I am kinda in your May 12 state, just that it isn’t on my face but on my body. Even so, I hate going out right now. Sweating makes me itch. Being covered up humidifies everything and I can’t tolerate that! I pretty much withdrawn myself.

    Taking a year off school is definitely a big decision. I remember being at the NUS Health Centre in July to see the doctor for LOA approval. I was all covered up, rashy and sweaty. I felt so embarrassed and out of place seeing so many boys and girls my age hanging around – healthy and happy. (After 2 years in the army somemore..). If not for circumstance, I wouldn’t even be 100m away from home. Such experience in singularity is enough for me, so I can fully empathize with you. Schooling while withdrawing is freaking impossible – and you did it!

    As for the change in perception and attitude through TSW.. It’s so epic right! I can’t wait to start school. To buzz around like a bee. To shutter about between lectures, tutorials and whatnot. To mug for exams. Except this time round, I am doing so willingly and with a sense of gratitude.
    No more last minute work – I will be more planned out than ever before!
    I will be back more industrious and appreciative!

    “I guess the loss of control in TSW made me desire control much more than before”

    Looking back at my schooling years, I feel embarrassed by my lack of maturity. “I’ve taken school for granted for as long as i remember.itโ€™s a chore to go to school, to attend class, to sit through boring lectures.i never ever take the time to appreciate the small little things until they were snatched away from me forcefully.” So true!!

    Overall I count myself quite lucky as the timing of my withdrawal is almost impeccable. I took absence even before starting university. On hindsight it won’t be a year lost, but rather 4 years gained. I will enter uni a “brand new person”, and I am desperate to make my 4 years count!

    Haha! This entry resonated so much in me. Pardon my lengthy reply!
    Keep blogging! Continue to entice us with post TSW life. Convince the many struggling bodies and skeptical minds that the pot of gold at the end is real.

    Greatly appreciate your time and effort in maintaining this blog despite having already seen the gold. I hope to do like you in a years time! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • ๐Ÿ˜€ i love your long reply so much. i’m glad you liked this entry, it was something i juiced out from my heart, thoughts that have sedimented after such a long time. i call it the essence. HAHAHA!

      lucky you! i hope you have an amazing time when you are ready for school next year, don’t be like me, all caught up with studying and never get to play around much. please join societies and do crazy things! stay in hall if you can. (then again it depends on how hectic your major is)

      i will definitely keep blogging, it’s so rewarding when i get to know you guys resonated with what i write. it’s like the icing on the cake on top of knowing i’ve helped/encouraged/inspired/(insert other positive stuff here) people.

      ๐Ÿ˜‰ thanks for leaving such a heart felt comment. it makes my day!!!

  2. I vote for Long entries!! ๐Ÿ˜€ thanks hun. It was nice reading about how you managed school life during TSW and no u deserve all the good grades u achieved and it’s amazing how u got those good grades during TSW period! But of course what really matters is what u’ve learnt and gained from all this. These r things u can keep n use for life. I can totally relate to wanting to be invisible when u go to school. Man for me going out grocery shopping is just a torture now and I needa bring my baby with me. It’s been quite windy lately and ouch it’s bloody sore when the wind hits my raw weeping face. I just wish my face would heal faster. As u said it’s the only place I can’t freakin cover up! But somehow it’s gotten to the point where I just don’t care. If ppl have the guts to ask ‘what’s wrong with ur face?’ Or just care about me, I’ll tell them about TSW. In fact I’m wondering why ain’t ppl asking sometimes I wanna tell everyone about TSW!! Haha anyways I stop ranting. U look super beautiful hun keep smiling, stay happy n pls keep sending us more positive energy! xxx

    • thanks ahfaye ๐Ÿ™‚ long entries like that are hard to come by, but i’ll keep trying to come up with more entries like that in the future!

      well, i only managed to score better after my flares subsided. before that i screwed up so badly.

      hahaha i’m not trying to be mean, but have you considered the burqa? it was really on my mind back then..!

      i think people don’t usually ask you about your skin because they’re afraid you’ll feel offended. they just didn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable i guess!

      thanks for leaving a comment ๐Ÿ˜‰ i’ll keep injecting positive energies into you all!


  3. Wow what a transformation and kudos to you for making into work and school when u did. I worked the first month thinking I could cope but then i took three months off as I got too itchy with high anxiety and couldn’t concentrate due to insomnia. Ive been back in work two months now. .. and im still suffering the same! Struggling through. Sigh*

    Im so thankful u mentioned your swollen eyelids because I have that now too and couldn’t find anyone else mentioning the same. Its weird isnt it? Itchy too? X

    • jo, i totally understand how you feel. i hope you manage to find a better way to deal with the struggle now that you’re back to work though..!

      i think everyone else had swollen eyelids but most of us did not mention about it because it seemed trivial as compared to the severity of our skin. it’s very normal i believe, since the skin on the eyelid is the thinnest, any bit of swelling will be extra obvious on our eyes!

      my eyes weren’t too itchy thankfully. can’t imagine rubbing it and tugging the skin there(which will lead to wrinkles!!!).


  4. Thanks for this post! I’m just starting this TSW journey. Except I’m in the working world already. Not sure how long I can get off work (and keep my job) or would they let me telework for 2 years?! I’m only 2 weeks in and all the oozing prevents me from wearing much clothes. Let alone any dress clothes.

    • you’re most welcome sean! sorry to hear about your experience.. i think it sucks the most to be stuck in situations like this – having to go to work despite the physical condition we’re in.

      if you’re oozing that much, perhaps you can soak them up with some cotton pads so that it won’t stain your clothes. gotta work around it!

      good luck and stay strong!!!

      • If I could only pinpoint the oozing it would be much easier. It seems to ooze from EVERYWHERE! Thanks for the encouragement. Your blog definitely helps me see there is light at the end of this miserable (maybe blessing in disguise) journey.

  5. I went to work during the worst of TSW and I still am. Lucky for me it’s not as bad and only looks like an allergy or hives around my eyes. It’s still flaring every now and then but its okay I guess. Too bad for me it’s giving my wrinkles around me eyes! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I hope they’ll go away afterwards. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve cried about all this because I think I know the reality of TSW and actually, your withdrawal gives me hope. It’s crazy to see your withdrawal photos considering how absolutely gorgeous and happy you look now.

    • i have no idea how you managed to go to work throughout all these. IMPRESSIVE!!1

      don’t worry about the wrinkles, they will go away with time once the skin returns to normal ๐Ÿ˜‰ mind did! right now the only wrinkles i get is from me laughing too much.

      it’s my honour to be able to give you hope (and rid you of self pity and uncertainty). i bet no one can believe how bad my skin once was, thankfully i have pictorial proof. ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Juliana,
    You are an inspiration along with other people who are also posting along their tough journey. It just gives hope to other people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!! I’m only in month 2 so far, but each step of the way I can relate with what happened to you. Reading your posts, I’m like “yup, this is happening to me, that is happening to me too.” I gotta laugh at your replies/thought process to different people’s questions when they see you, its true, so true!! I have sunburn too ; )
    Just a quick question. At this current time (I read your TSW post skin care), do you feel like you have to moisturize your face? Or are there span of days where you just go natural and put nothing on and feel “normal” and not dry? Or will you face still feel dry after a shower and still maybe flake a little if you put nothing on afterwards?

    • hello alex, i’m sure all of us can relate easily with each other because we all went through the same shit. glad i made you laugh though, laughter is hard to come by in TSW.

      currently i still moisturize my face, but it’s not a need. it’s more like a want. i actually wake up with some oils on my face, my natural oils. but it’s really easy for our skin to be dehydrated (even for healthy people with healthy skin), so i just apply moisturizer to make sure my skin is hydrated.

      i don’t go through days without moisturizer though, i am just so used to using it. my skin no longer feels dry after a shower even if i don’t moisturize it immediately, it doesn’t flake anymore.

      i just apply lotion because i like how soft and smooth it makes my skin feels ๐Ÿ™‚

      it’s 2 months down for you! hang in there and stay strong! good luck~

  7. Juliana, I love reading your blog.
    I went through (or still am) TSW without knowing it was TSW– at first, I thought it was a reaction to Prednisone and antibiotics, and then I hooked up with a naturopath who told me that my candida levels were ultra high, my adrenals and liver and kidneys were working too hard. Through taking care of those organs and changing my diet around, I got better and better.
    It’s strange because I don’t know what “month” I am now in withdrawal, as I officially stopped taking oral/topical steroids in Nov. 2011, but realized in March 2012 that some of the little yellow tubes of chinese medicine my dad gave me contained .5 hydrocortisone in them without being labelled as such!

    The last ‘flare’ (I also don’t really understand what distinguishes a flare from something else– for me, I thought it was when my face would swell up over night, turn red, hot and burn and ooze… the rest of my skin remained various shades of red/pink and flaky) was August 2012. From then until one month ago, my skin got better and better, and most of the red turned to pink and then receded completely, leaving only my elbows and bits of my shoulders.

    However, a month ago, it started up again, where now–even though I haven’t had a ‘flare- (facial edema/swelling/oozing), I have bad patches again on my scalp, neck, shoulders, chest, torso, elbows, back of knees. Super itchy and thin skinned, so that I bleed if I scratch even a little bit.

    I’m confused (and sad) because I was getting better and better for a whole year! I wonder if this is just an isolated last patch of TSW before I get better, or if this is round 2. I find it strange that I had a one year ‘break’.

    Anyway, I just wanted to comment and thank you for being so open. I love noticing things like the fact that your nose escaped redness or flakiness, just like mine did! I always thought that was really weird– maybe we have less capillaries there or something???

    I have a blog too, but am not as brave as you to post about this…yet!

    • hey jo!

      thanks for leaving a comment ๐Ÿ˜‰ love it when people tell me they like what they read!

      i think the definition of a flare is highly subjective. let’s just call it a huge deviation from the skin’s normal state. i think your bad patches are just your original eczema (OR it could be places that has been in contact with steroids for a long long time) trying to heal itself. honestly i have no idea why that happens, maybe the skin integrity has been weaked by the years of steroids application, hence thoes area are more prone to be inflammed when the body is out of balance? that’s the only logical conclusion that i can come up with.

      i understand how you feel. i felt the same way just a month ago. my skin has been pretty calm every since june 2013, but in september my skin was extra sensitive and visibly redder than before. i thought i’m heading towards another valley slowly.

      sometimes our skin acts up for no apparent reason. maybe you can see if you made any changes lately that might have caused your skin to go into over drive. (i’ve actually clicked on your blog! congratulations on just getting married!)

      i think i’ve went out of point. i just want to tell you that your skin will heal up eventually. i know it’s pointless to tell you “don’t be sad over it” because it’s almost impossible to not be influenced by how our skin looks, but i promise you that your skin will heal up. don’t stop believing, don’t lose sight of the end, and you shall never be confused ๐Ÿ™‚

      lastly, you are most welcome once again. apparently the nose-being-spared is observed in most TSW patients! i still have no idea why that is the case. hahaha my nose was the only part that had normal looking skin.

      matter of fact, i’m only able to post about a lot of the skin related stuff after i got much better. everything is more apparent and clear in retrospect. plus i don’t itch like a monkey right now, i can sit still to type in coherent sentences ๐Ÿ˜›

      good luck and stay strong!


  8. Hey, just for the record i told you i go to university, but i also missed many lectures and i’m not very proud of it either, but you finished which is the main thing

      • Thanks for the post. It really helps me a lot. I have eczema and I have used steroids for four years on and off. Currently Stopped steroid for one month. Didn’t realise that the steroids prescribed by doctor was potent, I applied on my arms and legs. I am having a tough time now, rashes almost on my whole body, luckily my face and neck are getting better. At least I am able to go out for my exam but my arms joint are so painful I don’t even know whether I can write my papers or not. I am taking professional accounting paper exam this December and i feel so stressed out. I missed all my revision classes ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I know that eventually My skin will heal but I am not sure when. Reading your post make me realised I am not alone.

      • hang in there jane! you will get better. in the mean time, just get yourself prepped up for your exams, get it done and over with, then rest as much as you can until your body heals ๐Ÿ™‚ the pain will take some time to get used to, but you will survive it, just like everyone else did!

        good luck!

  9. Hey, thanks for this blog. It must be difficult to share such personal and painful experiences, but please know that the information and insights in your blog are helping people (like myself) everywhere who struggle with this condition. I have a somewhat weird question. Even when I wasn’t in TSW and had only a few small scabs on my scalp (that cannot be seen normally), some stylists have raised eyebrows and acted like I had the plague. So how do you get your hair cut when your face or scalp is super itchy and look too ghastly to leave the house?

    • hello moueil!

      thanks for your words of affirmation! i’m really happy to know that the sharing of my experience is helping others, it makes my suffering worthwhile ๐Ÿ™‚

      regarding your question, i have been cutting my hair by myself for the longest of time, so it wasn’t really an issue for me. also, when i was going through TSW my hair was relatively longer, so i always just tie it all up to get it out of my face. i assume you’re a guy, so that might not be an option for you. perhaps you might want to invest in a pair of clippers and start clipping your own hair!? it’s possible, but require some practice. or, just grow it out so you can wear a hair band to keep the longer hair out of your face! grow it out long enough and by the end of your TSW, you can be the next man bun hottie. hahaha!

      i can understand why your hair stylist might react that way. most of them are not educated about conditions we have, and might mistaken it for something contagious. they must be worried that they might spread it to other customers via the tools that they use (but probably didn’t sterilize after each customer). please don’t take it personally! they are worried about the welfare of others, and are in fact, kind in a way.

      • hello juliana! cutting hair yourself is so useful + brave ^.^ and you hair looks nice in the photos!

        i think if i am able to do that it would make tsw easier because i’m super self-conscious these days. how do you cut your own hair? any tips?

        thanks for your help! ^.^

      • hello yuna!

        thanks for your kind comment! ๐Ÿ™‚ as for cutting your own hair, it depends on the length. it’s easier if your hair is really long, as you can easily hold up the ends of the hair and see how much you want to cut! for shorter hair it’s a little trickier, need to maneuver quite a bit. i just wing it pretty much….. and yes, there is mishaps, but hair grows out eventually so i just learn from my mistakes.

        i’d suggest watching some basic hair cutting videos on youtube where they show you how to part your hair. the cutting part is pretty easy, but layering is a technique that needs to be learnt. just search up some tutorials and you should learn a lot more than what i’m able to put into words here!

        last but not least, do it in front of a mirror ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Hi Juliana! Iโ€™m from Singapore too and Iโ€™m starting sem 4 next month. Actually survived one whole sem with Tsw and my second flare which was way worse than the first one hit me right at the start of August, which was the start of sem3. I skipped so many lectures, tutorials, became an extremely self conscious and quiet person, who was totally a far cry from what I was like in y1. I really relate to your post a lot, and itโ€™s really great to see your improvement over the years. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • hi claire,

      so sorry to hear about your experience. i too went to school during the first 8 months of my flare. couldn’t take it anymore and i asked for leave of absense. that year of rest felt right. i hope you feel better soon! you could consider taking a year’s break if you need to! stay strong!

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