The face looking back at me in the mirror is a snarl of bloody, cracked skin, oozing a foul-smelling yellow liquid that trickles unchecked down its cheeks. The eyes are lifeless and defeated after months of agony. All features are frozen in place by the knowledge that the slightest twitch of the mouth or arch of an eyebrow is enough to split the skin open once more.
I consider the daunting tasks ahead of me: putting on clothes, walking downstairs, eating breakfast and returning to my room for another session of mindless daytime TV. I sigh and look down at the floor, littered with layers of dead skin. No matter how much I vacuum it’s impossible to keep it clean.
As I do every morning, I inspect my body, hoping to find any evidence that this torture will end. My neck and chest are as diseased as my face. My arms and hands, also throbbing and bruised-purple like my face, are getting worse. They’re etched with deep, infected cuts and inflamed scratch marks, casualties of the interminable itching.
This is my life—a moment-by-moment struggle to survive with severe eczema.
I take a deep breath and reach for the nearest shirt.