It is the last day of Rosacea Awareness Month today and I wanted to write a post that I’ve been pondering about for a while. I spend a lot of time thinking about my rosacea and trying to come to terms with the way it makes me feel, act, and how I see myself. But – as with any condition that changes the way you live your life – I have spent a lot of time wondering how my rosacea effects other people, namely my husband.
Aaron is one of those really irritating people who doesn’t do anything at all to his face and sees no negative repercussions. As he puts it: “my skin care routine is: stand in shower, splash water on face, hope I don’t blind myself with shampoo, done.” (You’re allowed to hate him, it’s okay). He can’t get his head around a regular skincare routine let alone the intense, careful, and sometimes painful trial and error of my skincare regime. So trying to get him to understand how I felt about my skin and how I worked around my rosacea has taken quite a long time.
One of the hardest things for Aaron to get used to was a lack of spontaneity. ‘Fancy going to the cinema? The next showing’s in 20 minutes’. This innocent sentence would bring me out in a cold sweat. Not only would I feel immense pressure but it would also make me feel incredibly guilty that I wasn’t one of these breezy, chilled girls who just throws on a t shirt and jeans and is ready to go. I could feel his confusion as to why I would put so much effort into my make up when I would be seen by about 4 other people… but for me, leaving the house is never that simple. He has now realised that on the days when I have to rush my make up, or when I don’t feel as comfortable with my appearance, I will feel more self conscious and that’s not a fun day for anyone.
“It sounds bad, but I didn’t understand, I found myself getting frustrated at her, because I couldn’t put myself in her position.”
Some of my triggers are some of Aaron’s favourite things which can cause some friction. His idea of heaven is an afternoon in a beer garden in the summer, drinking and talking with friends. The idea of this makes me panic: Direct sunlight? Nope. Heat? No way. An afternoon of alcohol? I can practically feel myself turning into an ‘angry tomato’ (Aaron’s words!) just talking about it.
“I can never relate to the actual physical pain that she feels in her face after drinking red wine or being out in the sun. It’s kind of like being in a relationship with a vampire but the vampire is extremely self-conscious about their vampireness.”
Trying to make people understand what you can and can’t handle is a big part of learning to live with rosacea: you shouldn’t feel awkward, or difficult, or like a diva for asking them to help you feel comfortable and happy.
USE YOUR WORDS
I think the most tricky thing about this whole topic is that no one wants to be an unsupportive or unkind partner/friend/sibling/parent. Trying to convince Aaron to help me write this blog post was a mission in itself: his first few drafts were so reasoned and sweet and thoughtful. I had to almost give him permission to admit that there are some really frustrating things about living with me and that it’s okay to admit that.
“I never understood the complex emotions that preempted Lex going out into the world. It just never occurred to me. But I know now that for Lex facing the world was a battle. I used to get frustrated that we couldn’t leave the house with five minutes notice, but that’s part of learning and loving someone with a skin condition. It’s not about your comfort, it’s about theirs. I now know that when Lex puts on her war paint she is ready for whatever comes her way. But it took some time for me to get there – it sounds selfish, but I had to learn to empathise with the way she saw herself in the world.”
I think that’s the main thing I hope people take away from this post: you have to talk to people. It’s very hard for other people to understand how rosacea feels, and the ways in which it can completely alter your life, so you have to explain it to them.
Aaron’s final words sum it up really well for me: “It can be difficult to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, but it just comes down to happiness and being comfortable in your own skin – something I think we can all understand.” What are your tips for living with someone with rosacea, or how you’ve helped others to understand your condition? Let me know in the comments below!
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