If Albus Dumbledore believed that love was the answer, then I believe in time.
A measure of time can be anything you want it to be, from the passing of an hour to a whole existence. It can flash before your eyes or slow down to the point where you feel the next second will never come.
Most of us will have been told at least once in our lives that time is a healer – but here’s the thing. We live in a society of quick fixes where the instant something goes wrong, we want to mask it quickly, to forget about it. But I have found that, for the things that truly matter at least, they take a little longer to mend than 60 seconds on a stopwatch.
Unbeknown to me, I’d had red skin syndrome for many years. It’s an iatrogenic condition brought on from the topical steroids that I thought were helping me manage my eczema. One day, after many years of trying desperately to understand why my eczema only seemed to be getting worse, I realised that it was something else completely. Instead of eczema, which I must have grown out of, I had this new condition, RSS, and the only way for me to get better was to simply stop using topical steroids and wait for my skin to start working for itself again. This all sounds so simple, but the process turned out to be anything but.
I discovered this when I took away the drugs. My skin was very angry, to the point where the symptoms of RSS rendered me housebound. I desperately craved the drugs that had caused this whole mess in the first place. It was horrific. As a result, I threw everything I could at my skin to get better, but in the end, I realised that all it boiled down to was time – and it wasn’t weeks, or months. It was years.
While that might have taken time, it was so worth it. What I went through was essentially a drug withdrawal, and I had to endure the bad in order to get to the good. There was no way around it, only through. Now, I have the best skin of my life without the need for any drugs whatsoever, and I would go through it again in a heartbeat if it meant I could be in exactly the same position as I am right now.
Sometimes, I think we all are guilty of forgetting that there will always be a tomorrow, and that time does indeed pass. When we are trapped in a bad situation, it conveniently slips our minds that time will come to rub out the past and create a future from the ruins of our present. We do something right here and now, forgetting there will ever be a time where we might come to regret it. Although that is not exactly a bad thing. It is simply life and we are guaranteed to make mistakes and inevitably regret them. Then learn from them.
There are moments where we try to slow time down, to hold onto it, not wanting to miss a thing. Then other times where we wish we could speed it up – rushing through the minutes in order to get to the distant hope of the future. There can also be moments where you don’t want any more at all, and you wish it would just stop.
As someone who has suffered and still suffers from severe anxiety, it can make me feel as if I’ll never escape from the darkness. However, while we are all complex creatures, and no one is the same, I can say that there is light for those who truly wish to find it. When I am having a panic attack, I feel as if I am drowning. I can’t breathe, and I am unable to imagine that there will ever be anything but this. Then the storm passes, and I feel air in my lungs once more. Suddenly there is hope. There is light. My anxiety may come back, but I know it will pass.
When it comes to my battle with trichotillomania, I didn’t decide I wanted to get better and was simply better straight away; it took time in order for me to make mistakes and learn from them, and then to grow and fail in equal measure as the weeks and months passed. I have been in recovery from trich for nearly two years, and yet I still have so much to learn. Because things take time.
Over these many strange and tough and wonderful experiences in my life, I have come to realise that the most important thing you can do is not give up, because things will get better.
Time does pass and, one day, you will wake up from the nightmare you have been living in and those terrible times might not be there anymore. The bad dreams might come back – but who knows? We cannot predict what will happen. Neither should we want to – that’s one of life’s many mysteries!
I may not be where I want to be yet, but I am closer than I was a moment ago.
In a world of uncertainty, one thing in life that we can be certain of is that time will always pass, and we do not have the power to control it. We can only choose to tick, tick, tick along with it and accept that things will block our path and it is up to us to find a way around it.
Thank you for your time.
– Cara Ward
Want to see more from Cara? Read Every Trich in the Book! Here’s a sneak preview …
Since her early teens, Cara Ward has suffered from trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder) and dermatillomania (skin picking), two forms of mental illness that are still often hidden away in shame. Feeling embarrassed and confused by her own behaviour, Cara kept quiet about it for years.
But in June 2013, she was left housebound by a condition from which the only way to get better was a harrowing and difficult withdrawal from all topical steroids. As a result, she knew that she could “beat her own mind” and overcome anything else she put her mind to. And so, over a period of just seven weeks, Cara documented her struggles to gain better control of the disorders that had left her scarred and ashamed for years …