I celebrated my 28th birthday in Singapore with a close acting friend and my house mates. Thanks to them otherwise it would have just been another day recovering from my sickness (one of the better days in this photo). I am still in what I would describe as quite a frail condition, I get fatigued very easily, I have trouble sleeping and struggle to do tasks quickly and have rashes that come and go on my face and neck and even had a bi-polar depression episode so whats happening to my body?
Click to find out...
Topical Steroid Withdraw (abbreviated as TSW), those are the 3 words that when uttered would bring all sorts of confusion even after explanation to those not in the know, those who do know about it would feel great sympathy. There are many blogs out there about the condition already and I am not about to turn mine into one but I believe I should make an entry because it is claiming a good slice of my life and I want to add to the awareness of this terrible dermatological oversight, misdirection or ignorance that the medical industry has. Finally with my twisted creative mind I can say it adds to my life experiences which I can draw from in my acting (although it has actually been taking me away from my acting, shut up).
Now I'm not a real doctor nor am I acting as one now, Dr.Google comes close though, don't quote me on this but in a gist: topical steroids is cream often prescribed for rashes, they suppress the immune and act as substitute for the body produced cortisone levels, therefore fights inflammation which is basically what a rash is, Inflammation on the skin. By stopping the inflammation we think the problem has gone or at least buys time for it to heal with reduced redness, but in some cases they come back it could be anywhere from days to months later, we continue with the same treatment because it obviously seemed effective, doctors might even try stronger creams for more instant results even oon the toughest rashes.
Topical steroids sound pretty awesome now, literally a miracle cream. Thing is the body gets addicted to the treatment, why produce your own cortisone or strengthen the immune system when it comes free from the outside? the body eventually only copes with continual application of topical steroids otherwise it goes into retaliation and gives you a flare up* that is serious rashes to get the point through to you that it bloody needs that hit of steroid creamage. And so you end up going to the doctor for more, they don't cost much and when you apply that stuff and feel it's effects you feel an euphoria of relief. Yes, like Cocaine.
It is a vicious cycle.
I remember going to the doctor earlier this year asking for the stongest cream he had (heavy strength 0.1%) thinking myself this stuff is awesome! much like a crack addict. I haven't even used topical steroids that much or consistently only when I needed it, usually once a year for a few weeks and going months without. Using it when you need do is the danger, like how you can train a dog, you can train your bodily defenses and addictions. It was never explained to me the possibly of addiction or not to use them when you just feel a little itch and that itch could be anywhere. For the past say 14 years, since I started high school I think I would have had at least one tube of (quarter strength 0.025%) cream the size of a massive toothpaste tube laying about the house somewhere, in the family it was just refereed to as the "itchy cream" that anyone can use, although it was prescribed just for me there was plenty to last for months for occasional use in one tube.
Back in Mid-March I was using the heavy strength cream quite often in small amounts but often enough to feel a dependency and that was when I decided to stop and research what my old friend told me about the withdraw symptoms he was going through, I thought that I was in pretty early stages so stopping wouldn't give much withdraw effects...
boy was I wrong. Although my withdraw experiences that are a fraction of what others report being limited to only my face and neck, they would have it affect every inch of skin on their full body and taking the toll for up 3 years...I can only begin to fathom.
Suddenly every health Hiccup I have had the past 15 years or so is explained, the decaying sleep patterns, the occasional headache, the adult acne, the sweat attacks that burn, the flares and flaking skin when I was in Canada 2008, as well as in SG 2012 and 2013 the Dyshidrosis of 2007, 2011 and 2013, the angular cheilitis of 2011, Asthma and hayfever even it's all linked as the Atopic platter, or simply the body calling out for a hit of Steroid Cream which it will never get enough.
For the last 2 months in Singapore I have been experiencing this confusing and most radical medical condition that has affected my confidence, finances, sleep, eating and well generally everything... on the surface it is a skin condition that appears in no particular order as: rashes, itch, skin redness, raw flesh with oozing and liquid secretions, patchy skin, dryness skin flaking, and fluctuating body temperatures, take all those to the extremes because it is that serious, go on google TSW or visit itsan.org and see the extremes.
I'd go to bed at decent times but lie awake tossing and turning for no real reason, this was due to the cortisone levels going out of wack and working overtime now that I was off steroid creams. I fall asleep at 3 or 4am usually and wake up at 12pm. I'd have enough energy to eat and relax a bit before needing another nap and eventually ending up not being able to sleep at night again. It was after almost 2 months of this.. just few days ago I was unable to conjure up any positive thoughts at all, I had been canceling auditions (terrible thing to do), I have been nothing and just passing days as my health goes up and down rash and recover, rash and recover, finally I told my house mate I don't know if I could stay because I could not work and pay the rent in this state and I don't know when I'd get better, I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was LOWEST POINT IN MY LIFE EVER! however the next day after accumulating some decent sleep I was able to think straight again, I was me again, I went to an Audition, did well, met a female actress there and took her to a industry networking event, helped my friend vomit, then went to watch x-men days of futures past (awesome movie BTW) and went to bed at 5am, which although I shouldn't I felt quite okay still, it was the magic I usually roll. This was a Bi-Polar episode, first time I had experienced anything like it, a friend told me I had a chemical imbalance in the brain, I believe it was from the lack of quality sleep, causing fatigue which causes headaches, which pretty much leads to the darkside. I've seen it now.
I have always been terrible at listening to my body's needs, pushing boundaries from when I should be sleeping, working extended hours and travelling those exotic locations to pushing meals much later than conventional and even just plain forgetting to eat because whatever I was doing overrides the body's prompt, kinda like those annoying pop up ads that you just click close, out of sight out of mind. However, in this condition paying attention to all that is futile because the body's functions have gone so damn sporadic, it's like an all out war and all I can do is go with the non linear nature of the TSW healing process.
This whole ordeal kinda rings the alarm bells, making me realise how important it all is to act upon what your body wants, you'd think it is obvious but as you grow older the basic needs become something like luxuries you get by with frugal imitations when in actuality you need more than your younger years. I believe I have since become more sensitive to obey my body, these days I actually think about getting a good nights rest every day.
Can you believe all this is from a little rash that was then put on steroids? (pun intended) It takes a week or 2 to heal and then it comes back on the weekends usually, all your body's hard work over the week recovering is undone overnight. However each time it comes back it is a little less even if it is a little, and this is the light. Everyone is different when going through TSW, so we all fight our battles on our own, often becoming desperate for a solution for anything to turn the tide. I have gone to the dermatologist and I have tried ordering mysterious creams online but nothing is a quick fix except for the steroid creams and you know that's what got you into this mess in the first place, you go cold turkey eventually. What everyone online who shares the condition is saying is give it time.
I have decided to go back to Sydney for a month or half, I should be healed by then and return to Singapore. From this whole experience I did gain a few things that could help me in the acting spectrum:
I am more sensitive to my body and it's needs.
was vegetarian for almost a month (was suggsted by an indian quack that sold me laxatives aswell to flush toxins)
tasted a little true insomnia.
Tried a good amount of fatigue.
endured several days of a headache
I have tasted Bi-Polar depression.
I know what it is like to be physically addicted to substance
the desperation to try anything
Taken care of my frail self alone for that time
Discovered a Sleep Monitoring App on Android, this helped me keep track of my sleep deficiency, I know my limits now.
And finally I learned how to make Congee, okay it may not be like how my mom makes but I know now.
The war is not over yet, but I have awoken stronger the past few days, I do admit it was a bit of a mistake coming to Singapore sick and underestimating the condition, but I do find the whole ordeal a great experience because I can twist a positive out like that.
The app reports I average like 48% deep sleep, the war is not over yet even the day I have an awesome sleep by it self is a small triumph.
But the day this recurring rash ceases to come back is when I will rise as an empire of mind, body, soul and heart once again.
Till All I'm One.
To break all the dark tone of this entry, this video.
This is what happens when you spin me around.
Here is a video I did up 30 or so cameras.
Was fatigued that day but when 30 cameras want to take pictures of one jump, I was did not feel sick at all.
This Site is the Official Records of discovery and ramblings of an Asian Australian actor's Performing adventures and his other talents and interests, when he gets round to writing them. It just may contain the secret to successful and or fulfilling performing life with all good intentions but makes no promises. Due to it's content it is not recommended or suitable for everyone although the author strives to cater for the world. All Stunts are performed within controlled conditions supervised and or by fully trained professionals or moderately experienced or self proclaimed proficient Amateurs. I hold no responsibility for injury or damage to anyone's physical, mental,environmental, financial, soul & spiritual, sexual well being or computing device. However I will assume full responsibility for any improvement experienced in the life and it's performances on the readers end (that's you!). Warning: journey will contain traces of nuts