When it comes to living with Red Skin Syndrome, going through withdrawal can be the most exhausting, unpredictable journey.
You are not in control. You have taken the backseat and bravely allowed the withdrawal process to steer blindly towards that ever distant light you wish to reach.
I am in month 14 of this process, close to 15. It’s been over a year since I decided to dive head first into this mess. I don’t regret it. Looking back at old pictures reminds me how far I’ve come no matter the unknown ahead.
We will all have bad days, many, many bad days. There will probably be more bad days than there are good 75% of the time. Once you reach that ‘almost there’ line, then your days of good should start to outweigh the heinous.
But, it’s not about the good days while you are going through withdrawal. I say that because they are easy. They are the days that we are happiest, excited to finally get a break and conquer the world with our productivity (even if productivity means getting 2 loads of laundry done plus a quick run to the supermarket).
The bad days however… they are the ones that can make or break us. At first, it’s usually the pain that overwhelms us. It’s a struggle just to get out of bed. It burns, and aches, and stings all over, and the shedding is never ending. Once you’ve gained strength over the passing months, learning to deal with the pain as an almost constant norm, it’s the emotions that begin to take their toll. The reflection in the mirror starts to weigh you down, plaguing your mind with thoughts of despair, negativity, and skepticism. It’s not the pain that kills you after a while, it’s your own inner battle.
The good days come and they fill you with hope, but then the bad days come and you are knocked back down to the ground. Finding the courage to get back up again and again chokes you.
So, it’s about the bad days. It’s about finding hope in those bad days, the same hope you feel when you are on a high during those good days. It’s about digging deep, knowing you are still on the right path. You take a deep breath through the tears and you look behind you at all the chaos you’ve already left behind, all the struggle and mountains of skin you’ve shed, and you tell yourself how proud you are that you’ve made it this far. You will keep going. You will not give up. You may feel defeated, but this isn’t failure. This is fighting. You are a soldier in this war and, one day, you will be able to close this chapter in your life.
It’s not about the good days, it’s about the bad days. If you are reading this, you have survived every single bad day that has been thrown at you during this withdrawal. Don’t give up. You are a fantastic marvel of the human spirit and this strength will stay with you always if you keep fueling its fire. Don’t let it burn out.
We are in this together. If you feel the rope slipping from your hands, there is support for you. Visit ITSAN.ORG. There you will find a battalion of other soldiers fighting besides you in this war against Red Skin Syndrome.
I am a portrait of imperfection. This is a range of photos from Month 1 to Month 12. This is what a year of pulling through looks like. Brave the calamity. Brave the fear.
Love, B. R. Wren