What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Remember that terrible movie "Cabin Fever"? It's like "Lord of the Flies" meets "Deliverance" meets my old school crush from "Boy Meets World."
A group of five college graduates rent a cabin in the woods and begin to fall victim to a horrifying flesh-eating virus, which attracts the unwanted attention of the homicidal locals.
The movie came out the year after I'd graduated from college. Back then I was "working" in magazines and doing the chicken dance on the weekends at various Bar Mitvahs to front my third of an apartment in Harlem.
Then I was applying to grad school and working as a member of "the help" for this rich lady on the Upper East Side to earn the extra cash I needed to get my Columbia diploma out of hock. Then my boyfriend at the time, a West Point grad, was either prepping to go to war, cheating on me or pretending to look at rings.
So when this happened he dubbed it my "cabin fever."
That is not the dark side of the moon. That's stress-induced eczema, one of the non-sexiest skin issues a 22-year-old who's having a quarter life crisis can possibly have. Mr. West Point refused to touch it, said it might be "catchy." This after he'd staked his flag into who knows how many alien craters.
The itchy corn flakes on my arm showed up suddenly. One minute my skin was all smooth brown velvet and the next it looked like a map of the galaxy.
First thing I did was call my mom who, in true hippie fashion, told me to mix golden seal with a little vaseline and then slather that concotion on before bed. I woke up to a civil war on my epidermis of epic porportions. The invasion had spread to my chest, my neck and even an earlobe.
When I showed up in the emergency room, convinced I had "the ebola" or maybe "lepersy," it took three nurses and one Doogie Howser to tell me they didn't know what was wrong.
Eventually a dermotologist a friend referred me to diagnosed me with "eczema," which I'd always thought was something kid's get and grow out of like runny noses. He suggested I take steroids and in true daughter of a hippie fashion, I respectfully declined.
The caribbean nurse who'd been assisting walked me out and suggested I drink aloe.
"Wait? You can drink it? How?"
"You American kids," she said before giving me a recipe for an aloe vera plant smoothie I never tried.
In the end I got into grad school, moved to Chicago, then Washington, became over-educated and unemployed, dumped the boyfriend and started my life over about three different times in as many months.
A regime of sunshine, "lukewarm" showers and Aveeno Aveeno Aveeno eventually rid me of my "cabin fever" but so did busting out of the clautrophobia of my mid-20s.
Still, ever since then, between October and March my stress (or winter)-induced eczema returns. And just like how when it gets cold every single year and you can't remember how you survived the year before, around this time I always get eczema anemsia. I'm shocked when suddenly my skin starts to crack and peel and just look all-around gross.
I know there has to be a support group for this. Or maybe just an e-how article. But I have yet to find anyone in real life who shares my adult onset eczema pain. So far Aveeno's new eczema formula (which costs TWELVE dollars and lasts lotion-obsessed me all of a week) does the trick along with their "soothing bath treatment." But who has time for a soothing bath every night?
So, I'm hoping against hope that there are better products out there to tame the itchy armies that are my eczema arms. Mayday mayday, any ecz-ies out there with some of that good napalm?