Mind HK Ambassador

Iris’s Story

Iris, Mind HK Ambassador

Where/what has been important to you in your mental health journey? Why? 

The gym. It has been an important place for my journey ever since I started suffering from topical steroids withdrawal due to my eczema. At that time, I was bedridden and my body was covered with eczematous patches. My body was so sore that I could not do a single bicep curl. I just wanted to stay at home and decided I was going to quit the gym. However, the immense support given to me by the coaches made me stay on. They did not care about how I looked; they wanted me to use exercise as a form of distraction. With their support and daily exercise, my mental health improved and has kept me going till now, 14 months later.


How has mental health affected your day to day life?

I felt demoralised and defeated. I was crying silently almost daily. I was ashamed of going out due to my eczema. My self confidence was at an all time low. It was a vast difference from how I used to be. I was no longer a lively, happy person. I felt constantly tired and I could not perform my daily chores. I could not go to the gym, study spanish, meet friends, or even buy groceries.


How would you describe yourself? What are your labels? 

Active: I love to hike and go to the gym. 

Worried: I am constantly worried when and if my skin will flare up. This affects me mentally and causes anxiety. 

Proactive: I love to spend time with my friends who have been my pillar of support. I love to organise brunches and dinners, even though my social time has been reduced due to my eczema flare ups. 

Negative: Not on a daily basis, but I at times think if I don’t recover, how will people view me?

Independent: I prefer to solve problems on my own and not rely on others. However, TSW (topical steroids withdrawal) taught me that I needed support from friends and family, and that is okay!

What gave you hope during your recovery?

I meditate daily to calm my mind. I also remind myself to take deep breaths every time I feel anxious. The support from my gym and friends gave me hope during my journey. There is always someone I can call should I feel like crying. At the same time, I met two functional doctors who kept on encouraging me and supporting the choices I made for my own recovery, understanding that I needed to give myself time to heal. I always go back to a statement that is now etched onto my mind, “if you give up on yourself then no one can help you.” That helped me to push through this journey mentally.

Tell us about your life now 

It’s been 14 months since I stopped using steroids. I am not yet recovered and no one knows how long I will take to recover. However, my mental health has improved a lot. I have been less anxious, less negative and also have been crying less. I used to be very conscious whenever someone asked me about my skin and got very defensive. I can now confidently tell them what I am going through. Whenever I am going through flare ups, I remind myself to be calm and take deep breaths. I also try to focus on the positives and pray.