Joanne (29) is a determined mother of two and a skincare herbalist who lives in London. From a very young age, she’s struggled with severe eczema.
“I first started getting eczema when I had my daughter. When I was having my daughter, my skin wasn’t the focus. My kids were. My son wasn’t even a year yet when she was born. I was juggling a baby and a newborn., but I wasn’t even able to sleep because of the pain and discomfort from my eczema. However, I just blocked it all out because I had to take care of my kids. I was also working a new full-time job. There was no time to switch off or reflect at home because you can’t take off from being a mom. I never had time to look at what was going inside of me. The stress was actually really getting to me, but I didn’t even realize it. That’s mainly why my skin started getting worse.”
“My skin started to become covered in weeping patches. I was so stressed because my skin didn’t work properly, and I couldn’t trust my body when I needed it the most. I was literally covered in eczema from head to toe. It was just everywhere. I’ve been healed for a while, but thinking about this still brings me to tears. I couldn’t switch off from my skin either because my skin is literally what I live in. I remember how I would have to wake up and change the bedsheets or change the towels that I slept on because my skin was constantly weeping. Sometimes, I would even have to sweep the bed because there were skin flakes everywhere. Mentally, it was exhausting and painful. And I wondered -do people pity me?”
On top of this, Joanne explained how she was still attaching herself to toxic relationships. “I was going through a difficult period of time where I was holding onto toxic relationships. I didn’t let go, and I just repressed the trauma. I believe that also contributed to my eczema. Our bodies are so sensitive, and we always just try to treat them with medication. But a lot of the time, especially with skin issues, I believe health conditions link back to the repression of trauma. When there is a gradual build-up, your spirit starts looking for an outlet. Skin conditions are never just caused by one thing. They always result from a combination of external and internal factors.”
Joanne continues, “When we go through things and we don’t express our feelings, it actually damages things inside of us and causes problems. It can come out as inflammation and autoimmune disease. For example, in addition to my eczema, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and fibroids in my uterus. When I started focusing on my mental and emotional health, my skin started clearing up, and my hyperthyroidism went down. When I started to go to therapy and confront things, I became healthier, and my eczema, as well as my other conditions, were much less extreme.”
When Joanne realized the power of suppressed pain, she decided to speak up for the first time. She decided to choose her own life and to help others do the same. “When I look back at who I was before, I know I’m not that person anymore. I didn’t respect my emotions. I didn’t respect my feelings. I conditioned myself to react to people and situations. I didn’t have a sense of who I was independent of my environment and the people that I was around. I didn’t respect myself enough to realize that I needed to draw boundaries. I just let everything slide. In that period of time, I was forced to find myself because my mind and body had taken enough, and it had begun to draw boundaries with me.
“With that being said, I had to set boundaries in my relationships and get myself together in order to survive. Going through all of that got me to a place where I respected myself enough to say “no.” I used to worry so much about offending people. When I started to find myself, I realized - I do have opinions. Then, I started thinking - I have a say in my life and who I am. Then, I finally started thinking - I am valuable. I know who I am. When I started to find myself, I saw that I could be better as a mom. I saw that could be better as a wife. Because I see how emotional and mental health has not only changed my life but who I am, I want to help and encourage others to do the same in collaboration with health professionals.”
Joanne continues to discuss her plans for the future. “Right now, I’m doing a course on how to take care of the skin with natural herbs. Originally, my dream was to start a clothing line, but I wondered how I could change anybody’s life with that. When I changed, my dreams changed. Now I want to start a skincare brand and platform around helping people and encouraging people. I know I can make a massive difference. I want to make a difference for people because that’s what I needed when I was going through everything. Through skincare, I want to fight against the idea of repressing one’s feelings and experiences. Most of all, I want to help people feel valuable.”