[brain fart] what’s beauty?

not that i have any actual credentials to be a true connoisseur of beauty,
i sort of developed this idea about beauty through my years on earth.

before TSW, i’ve always been happy about how i look.
on the spectrum of self hate and self love, i think it was pure self love.
i never noticed any perceived flaws, because i was too focused on what i deem as good qualities on myself.

when we are young, we tend to see things in black and white.
it’s either all good, or all bad.
people either hate themselves or love themselves, it’s as though there is no in between.

things changed over the years though.
social media was growing at a time when i was dealing with TSW.
losing what i prized and valued while others show case their best self online did things to my mind.
i started noticing what i don’t have, or the differences between me and my ideals.
whereas in the past, i never had ideals before. i was me, unique, and special.

that was the beginning of the story about me losing my self love, and the quest to find it.

the thing is, i would be fine without self love.
it was the loss of self love, and the presence of self hate that tipped things off the balance.
i guess most been through that phase of “URGH i hate how my skin is right now!” when things got bad.
i felt like a monster, i think i looked like a monster.
i have no love for the person i see in the mirror, at all.
what’s that thing staring back at me?

i think that was how my self esteem began to tank.
which made it really hard for me to function like i did because i was so confident before that.
navigating through relationships was like swimming in a brand new sea.
except, the sea is pretty much the same, it’s just that now, i’m without my proper protective swimming gears,
so my fear of being attacked or getting hurt grew, so much so that they took over my decision control.

quoting rupaul, if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?
it made so much sense, because of something called projection.
how i interpret my actions towards myself is also how i interpret other’s actions towards me.
what happens when i see nothing but hate through my eyes?
that others don’t actually love me, because even i don’t like myself!
and why would i want to love another when all i think i’ll receive is pain?

learning to love myself was a journey in itself.
it took months, and months, and months.
imagine me swimming in the sea, finally getting more accustomed to it,
no longer thinking that everything is out there to kill me,
a fucking iceberg appeared out of no where and i swam right into it, kinda like what titanic did.
for a while, fear and panic took over again, until i talked my mind out of it as i grew more confident.
“hey, that didn’t actually kill me yea? and now i’m better at spotting ice bergs from afar, i can better avoid them!”.

the cycle repeats itself.
first it was iceberg, then it was airplanes diving from the sky.. it seem to get progressively worse.
but that’s not the actual case.
the usual stuff still pops up, like a drift wood, plastic trash, potentially deadly bacteria brewing in the ocean, but over time,
i’ve learnt that can’t bring me down, so they go pass my danger radar.
each day, my self esteem grows a little thanks to my constant effort to practice compassion

you know, being kind to others is ultimately an act of kindness towards ourselves.
none of that “pay kindness forward until it pays you back” BS,
but simply, projection.
if i do not harbour any mean motive towards someone else, i wouldn’t think others are harbouring the same bad motive towards me when a similar action is done onto me.

our biggest enemy is indeed our self.

in my practice of self compassion and cultivating kindness for others,
i came across this cute little birdy called rhea.
she has the beak and feather disease which caused her to be featherless.

Happy happy birdie; thanks @petsonq for a wonderful day!! #PetsOnQteam

A post shared by Rhea The Naked Birdie† (@rhea_thenakedbirdie) on

i remember how i felt when i first saw her – a sense of familiarity, because she’s just like me, having an issue that affects her appearance.
except, she is much cuter even though she’s featherless.

the thoughts that went through my mind was what helped me chase away self hate.
“even though she looks different, but she is still loved. heck, i still find her cute and adorable! wait a minute…. if that’s the case.. if something broken can still be loved and adored by others, does that mean i can be loved too?”

and that question lifted off that smoky haze that’s been clouding my mind for a while.
in loving a broken bird, i was able to learn how to love and appreciate myself and my perceived flaws.
and with that self love, i now deem myself worthy of someone else’s love.
what that means is, my insecurities aren’t as rampant as before, the voices in my head no longer tell me the worse case scenario of getting my heart broken when things didn’t go according to my expectations.
and if they do, which is much rarer than before, i am able to tell it to fuck off, because i can tell fact from fiction.

can’t always trust my mind sometimes!

rhea looked cute before when she still had all her feathers, but being naked doesn’t make her any less cute!

being judgemental/critical kinda suck,
because when i’m not judging others, i’m busy judging myself.
but love, kindness, and compassion is the antidote to that.

just a little brain fart that’s been sitting around my brain far too long.

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11 thoughts on “[brain fart] what’s beauty?

  1. Hey Juliana, SO DAMN HAPPY I FOUND YOUR BLOG ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE A SINGAPOREAN TOO! I have eczema since 10 after going through chemotherapy. Been only prescribed elomet (mometasone flroate) that i have slathered all over my body almost daily because of my eczema including my face. Used to be only a few spots like my joint areas but over the years, it spread to my entire body, my body being the worse and leg the most unsightly and instead of the usually dark red patches, mine are more of rashes dots. Scratch and it bleeds.

    Currently about one week into TSW again (done this before at the advice of TCM but within the first week, it was super horrible, I decided to go back to the creams mainly because i was vain too and havent heard of TSW). Not sure if there is a rank chart of severity of RSS/TSW/TSA, mine is considered mild i hope.

    So current symptoms are:

    1) Cracks and lines around my around thats oozing with pus.

    2) Flare up of neck.

    3) Red dry patches around the eyes.

    4) Swelling of my face.

    5) Dry af face, forehead and body

    Your blog really gives me hope as i thought i was losing it. Been actively researching for the past week on how fast the process of this TSW crap is going to take. I wondered how you have been coping because the weather in singapore is really fucking shitty. Truth to be told, I am actually super vain, and currently because of my TSW condition, i am afraid to even go out, lowering my head, afraid to face the crowd especially when i go to nearby malls, knowing i’ll meet some friends. My confidence level really took a deep dive considering i am an narcissistic asshole.

    And to any other readers out here, super important to have supportive family and friends! Friends that looks at you in disgust, throw them away. Its easy to fall into depression when you go out, knowing you look like shit, feeling scared people are looking at you strangely. Take care!

    • hello ethan!

      i’m glad you found my blog too! being able to bring some hope to people in need makes my suffering meaningful. it sounds like the chemotherapy did something to your immune system that may have led to your eczema.

      during the hotter months, the only thing i could do is to sit in front of my fan, limiting my motions as much as possible. once my skin is better and able to tolerate some perspiration, i try to do some light exercises to perspire a little. my TCM doctor told me it’s good for the skin and body.

      i can understand that feeling of wanting to hide and not face anyone. i was like you. TSW is a very humbling experience, it helped me discover that my looks are not the most important thing. it’s okay to want to hide for now, do whatever makes you feel comfortable. if you really need to head out, you can always put on a shades and surgical masks. those two effectively covers up my face. i also find it easier to take the focus off my appearance for once in my life. it’s about changing perspectives 🙂

  2. Hi Juliana

    Thank you for this! Throughout my tsw journey, I have felt the same kind of emotions and feelings that you’ve expressed here and I feel vindicated knowing that my experience is completely normal.

    You’re right in saying that we need to learn how to first love ourself in our own skin. One part of that for me is coming to terms with the possibility that I may never got my pre-tsw look back in its entirety. It is challenging but one that we must face.

    Hope your skin has been treating you better.

    • hey derek! thank you for leaving this comment 🙂 i truly believe whatever we feel during times of suffering is more or less similar, that’s why buddhists say suffering brings people together. we connect through the similar feelings we have 😀

      i agree with you, it is difficult to fully accept the possibility that we may never get perfectly normal skin. it’s something i’ve been trying to do since the beginning of my journey, and even though i’ve accepted more of that idea, it’s still not a complete acceptance. one day, maybe 🙂 i’ll keep trying.

      thank you for your well wishes, and i hope yours is treating you well too! show it some love! hahaha! i just kissed my hands to show them how much i appreciate them for being functional, even though the skin is still healing. self love FTW!

  3. Juliana, from your sharing above, it sounds like you are still dealing with flare up from time to time. At least you are done dealing with TSW. For dealing with the regular eczema, did you try a high carb low fat vegan diet which I saw a few people on Youtube shared.

    There is a young guy called Greg from UK – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWP6W6Rkt7_vXWKPMztPVDg
    and another guy called Rob Stuart – https://www.youtube.com/user/40dayactivation

    Seems like they both cured their eczema by going high carb low fat vegan diet. It took them a while and be very consistent with their restricted diet and exercise to be eczema free. It might worth a try cause it will improve the overall health. I am trying it out but cannot stuff that much fruit down my system as much as those two. I hope you will have your eczema under control or even eczema free soon.

    I am at the 10-month mark of TSW. As the weather is getting hot in Canada, plus I am using UVB phototherapy, the skin starts to look a bit better. Then all in a sudden, last weekend I had a major flare up which left my face and neck swollen again. A few parts of my body was feeling good for the past month all in a sudden cover in rashes again. I have major hair loss still, the back is going bald. Someday I woke up thinking when is this going to end. I am not asking for beautiful wrinkle free perfect skin, I just want to have normal not itching red skin, is that too much to ask? May be it is.

    • hello loretta!

      yes you are right, my flares look more like eczema now. the high carb low fat vegan diet sounds interesting! i’m already 90% vegan, so i might try that out some day! i have no doubt a vegan diet is very good for the guts, which should help with a lot of auto immune diseases. as much as i’d like to have a high fruit diet, i’d go broke if i do eat that way! haha!

      the sucky thing about TSW is the ups and downs. you think it’s going great one minute, and next moment it gets really bad. it can be very discouraging! sending you a virtual hug, and a reminder that it will all pass. hang in there ok? hair will grow back again. mine is growing like garden weed now haha! we’ll all be healthy once more! have faith!

  4. Hey Juli, how it is going?

    TSW has been kind of kick in the butt to me, i suddenly find myself with greater courage to face the world. Keep going, heads up, you are beautiful just the way you are!

    • hello! am i supposed to just address you as blackusxy? haha!

      things are ok for me, i guess. lots of up and downs as usual, forcing me to be even more accepting of this long healing journey. i’m glad you have greater courage to face the world! thanks for your encouragement 🙂 i really appreciate it, and wish you the same!

  5. hi Juliana
    I don’t know if you visit forums or support groups much anymore for TSW but I am running a survey at the moment about the emotional effects of TSW. Given TSW veterans are hard to come by sometimes in those groups, your thoughts would be valued if you have ten minutes or so to spare. If you’re interested, if you email me I can send you through the link. Or it is on the ITSAN forum in the General topics section.
    Thanks for reading

    • hello jordan! thank you for coming all the way to my blog to notify me of your survey! i’ll go search through the ITSAN forum right now! if i can’t find it, i’ll send you an email!

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