098: Why Hope Is So Important When It Comes To Eczema (And How To Find It) w/ Camille Knowles

For people who have struggled with skin conditions for a long time, finding hope and joy can become increasingly difficult. My guest today is here to share her story about finding and creating HOPE.   

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My guest today is Camille Knowles, qualified Health Coach, Natural Chef, and founder and author of The Beauty of Eczema. Camille is on a mission to share her wisdom and guide others in living a fulfilled life beyond eczema.

While eczema is part of her journey, Camille is adamant that it doesn't define her. She discovered how a positive mindset, food, lifestyle, skincare and relaxation techniques could help her get gorgeous glowing skin.

Join us as we discuss how to find hope when you are struggling with a chronic skin condition like eczema.

Has hope and a support system positively impacted your health? Let me know in the comments!

In this episode:

  • Camille's eczema story
  • Why very restrictive diets can sometimes cause more harm than good
  • What are the HOPE principles?
  • The importance of support and hope

Quotes

“I ended up finding and learning that there's not just one puzzle piece that's going to help you live a life beyond eczema. It is a variation of puzzle pieces when they match up, you live a whole life beyond eczema, so that is the Hope Principles.” [2:28]

“ I see it [eczema] as my physical sign to do what's best for me. And I feel blessed that I am able to view my eczema in that way and I want other people to be able to view it in that way too.” [15:17]

Links

Find Camille online

The Beauty of Eczema book

Find Camille on Instagram | Instagram

098: Why Hope Is So Important When It Comes To Eczema (And How To Find It) w/ Camille Knowles FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Hi everyone. Welcome back to the Healthy Skin Show. Today I've got a guest with me, someone whom I really, really appreciate for all of the joyful hope that she gives to people who struggle with eczema. Though I would also argue that this is something that if you're just struggling with a chronic skin condition, would probably also give you hope as well. But she's actually from the other side of the pond in Great Britain and I'm so blessed that she was able to figure out a time so that we could do this interview. Some of you may have seen her on the eczema psoriasis awareness week as well and telling her whole story, so if you haven't seen that, go check that out. But if you have not yet made yourself familiar with Camille Knowles, she is a health coach, natural chef and most importantly, she is a fellow eczema warrior.

Jennifer: She's authored the book called The Beauty of Eczema. It's a guide to living a life beyond eczema. While eczema is part of her journey, Camille is adamant that it doesn't define her. She discovered how a positive mindset, food, lifestyle, skincare and relaxation techniques could help her get gorgeous glowing skin.

Jennifer: Camille, thanks so much for joining us.

Camille: Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here.

Jennifer: So will you give us a short recap because everybody can hear Camille's long story of her eczema and what's going on, but just because I want to dive into your principles and things, would you just tell everybody a little bit about your eczema journey?

Camille: Yeah, so in short, suffered with it since I was six years old. It bothered me a little bit during high school. People would see cuts all over my hands in computer class. It really bothered me at boarding school. I ended up restricting my diet and then when I was 21 that was the pinnacle of the dark moment with eczema where I was covered head to toe in it, my face got infected so it swelled double the size and my hair was falling out. I was unrecognizable, extremely ill and went into hospital and the doctor said the best case scenario for you is antidepressants and steroid cream to cope with the condition there is no cure for eczema.

Camille: So I left hospital in a very, very, very dark place and took myself on a journey, thanks to my family, to find a way to live a life beyond eczema, completely medication free and all using lifestyle tools. And I ended up finding and learning that there's not just one puzzle piece that's going to help you live a life beyond eczema. It is a variation of puzzle pieces when they match up, you live a whole life beyond eczema, so that is the HOPE Principles.

Jennifer: And before we get into the HOPE Principles, I just want to highlight for everyone because I thought it was so interesting as part of your story that you did a massive elimination diet that got to such a restrictive place that that actually contributed to having a major flare and you being hospitalized. So for anybody listening to this who's like, “Wait, you could be hospitalized due to your eczema?” Yes, it is possible.

Jennifer: So do you have any words of wisdom for people who are listening to this thinking that if they just take out more and more foods that that is going to solve their problems?

Camille: Yeah, definitely not. I was at this place where I thought food was the enemy and that as long as I restricted myself from all these bad foods that were causing my eczema, then I was going to live a life free of it and it turned out that the more and more and more restrictive I got, the less I had to eat and the more afraid of food I was, the more stress was put on my body, the more nutrient deficient I got, was actually causing me to flare up more. So even though I think food is a real key principle, it's got to be taken in a balanced approach and with joy instead of fear.

Jennifer: Yeah. And that I think too, that kind of played a part into you developing the HOPE Principles, right? Because it's not just about food, food's a piece of this puzzle.

Jennifer: So could you tell us what are the HOPE Principles?

Camille: Yes. So HOPE the reason it was under the HOPE acronym was because again, the whole foundation of what I'm doing is to give hope, give a bit of light to make any eczema warrior listening to this fight another day because I was that girl sat in bed crying and not seeing a bright future for myself and I was fed up and I wanted to give up and all I wanted back then was just a sliver of hope to make me fight again and that's what I'm trying to offer. So that's why it's under the acronym. HOPE.

Camille: And H stands for home and under home there is sleep, declutter and mindful meditation. So it's all about your environment at home and I talk about de-cluttering because I feel like clearing your space makes you have a clear mind. Clear mind, clear skin. Sleep is most underestimated healing tool. And although it's quite difficult to get when you have eczema, when you focus on the other principles, it makes it easier to sleep, so sleep's under home. And also mindful meditation environment. You know where you're at in your head and where you're at in your environment. I find that having a calming mind really helps but also, I've found that climate affects my skin and wherever I'm at, I need to make it feel like home and even though it's not that easy to move abroad to a sunnier climate because the sunshine helps my skin, I try and put pieces of that sunnier climate into my home, like shells in my bathroom and things like that that just made me feel calm and at ease.

Camille: O stands for optimism because I believe that a positive mindset is extremely healing. There's actually scientific studies to show that thinking positive thoughts promotes healing chemicals that heal the body. And when you think negative thoughts it actually breaks down the immune system. So optimism, under optimism there is visualization. So I talk about vision boards, focusing on something, a life beyond what you want. For example, five years ago I focused on the career I'm doing at the moment and healing and being well and I've managed to achieve it by focusing and looking at it every day. I talk about affirmations, positive statements to affirm to yourself every single day that will rewire your subconscious mind to think more positive and journaling because I find that gratitude journaling helps you focus on the positives but also helps you self analyze where you're at every single day and kind of speak to yourself and let out your emotions.

Camille: And then under P is purpose and pampering. So purpose again, finding something that gives you a reason to fight and live a life beyond eczema. For me it was to help millions of other people that were in the position that I was in so that's my purpose. But a purpose could be being a great mom or helping people in a charity or anything that just makes you feel like you're needed in this world. Pampering, I talk about using natural skincare, skincare that doesn't flare up your skin, that suits your skin.

Camille: And then E stands for ecotherapy, exercise and eating well. So ecotherapy, getting out in nature. Exercise, moving your body, motion creates positive emotion. And what was it? Eating well so again, eating well, not eating perfect. So I focus on the joy around food. I do avoid gluten, dairy and refined sugar, but I focus on really colorful food that filled me with passion on cooking is one of those things that makes me happy again now. So I love food and want to share that it's important to have a balance when eating well.

Camille: And then finally to wrap up the HOPE principles is S for stress and support because I think it's really important to focus on what your stress triggers are and use the HOPE principles to keep them under wraps and to have a support network, either your family, your friends, or if you feel like you've not got that, then reaching out to the eczema community. I feel like not feeling alone is so healing.

Jennifer: Yeah. And actually I want to ask you a little bit about the support piece because you had shared with me, and I think you, you actually alluded to it a moment ago that you were in a really dark place after you left the hospital because of the experience you had with the doctors and the mindset. Do you want to share a little bit about that moment in time and how that impacted you? And then sharing that with your family and what they shared with you?

Camille: Yes, so obviously when I was in the hospital, I was told antidepressants, steroids and I looked and felt extremely ill. I left the hospital and if I think back to it now, I try and not get emotional, and I think I've told my story that many times, I'm a bit numb to it.

Camille: But if I think back, all I can see is darkness, emptiness, and just no hope. Picture zero hope, I was in that place and I felt like a liability to my family because they had to help care for me essentially. I couldn't have a fulfilling career. I felt like I couldn't be a good partner in a relationship. I just felt like me being here was just a waste because I couldn't fulfill what I felt this world needed.

Camille: So I turned to my family and told them that, and said that this world's probably better off without me, I'm just a liability and obviously that broke them and it breaks me to think of little me thinking like that and they turned round to me and said, “no, no, this is not you Camille, your condition has taken over you and we're going to find a way out.”

Camille: So for anybody listening to this and they're feeling in that really dark place and they have no hope, I want to tell you there is a way out. There is hope and there is a beautiful life beyond eczema and there is tools now that you can turn to to get yourself out of that place.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Jennifer: And you and I both, I mean I had lost so much of my life. It's like almost as if the eczema started to steal even the simplest of moments like being able to wash. It was interesting you would shared that like you had cuts everywhere so just the act of taking a shower with so physically, full body painful. I mean it was just my hands, but I couldn't even wash my hair. I couldn't wash myself because I couldn't touch water even. And you had also shared too that the pain can be debilitating and that's a piece that people oftentimes overlook because they only see these external issues, but in reality there's so much that goes on underneath and having a support system is incredibly important because of the research that has come out demonstrating that people with eczema have a pretty significant risk of even considering suicide.

Jennifer: And that's horrible. I don't know why we're not talking about this more because that to me is a mental health crisis right there within this large community. Eczema is one of the largest, atopic dermatitis is one of the most common skin conditions worldwide and we should be talking about that. So that's why I love your work. Because you've got these books that help people where they are, right? So it's not like tomorrow your life's going to be completely different, right? It's like what takes you in steps, do you want to talk a little bit about that?

Camille: Yes. So obviously the HOPE Principles, there's quite a few moving parts and even though they're small little simple things to add to your day, you might think, “Camille, how do I start with the HOPE Principles, I have no idea.” And that is why I created the HOPE circle in the journal, which I'll just show now on the video.

Camille: So here is the HOPE cycle and I created this as a tool for finding out which HOPE principle would benefit your life most right now. So each of the segments are one of the HOPE principles and elements of them and you write from one to five, put a little dot where you're at on each of those things. So if you're not sleeping well, it's a one and if you're sleeping really well it's a five, so then you join up all the dots and you'll notice when you join it up where you're falling short.

Camille: And then further down here there's like three segments and it says, “What am I going to focus on?” So you write the three HOPE principles you're going to focus on and that is a really good monthly check-in, because it's a monthly check-in in the journal, and you focus on those morning and evening pages and reflect with yourself and you'll actually notice that a month later when you redo it, I bet those HOPE principals have moved up and it's just keeping all of these in balance. It doesn't have to be five, five, five, five, five everywhere. It's just about everywhere being in balance.

Jennifer: And one of the great things is so you have the beauty of eczema book.

Camille: Yes.

Jennifer: And then you have the journal.

Camille: Yes.

Jennifer: All of which everyone, no matter where you live if you're tuning in, are available on Amazon. So we will have the links in the show notes for you to go grab copies of those, along with how to connect with Camille and her website et cetera.

Jennifer: But the interesting thing that just sort of like popped into my mind as you were talking is what this is is an opportunity and almost an invitation to turn back inward and really meet yourself and pay attention to yourself and care for yourself as opposed to being fixated on the skin. Like, “Oh my goodness, my skin's a mess, I look ugly, I look awful.” And you get in this whirlwind of just fixating on what's going on on the outside and the physical symptoms you feel, but you're actually inviting somebody to say, you know what? Maybe this is like you were saying, the beauty of it, is that this is the opportunity to reorient yourself, to look at life from a different way. Would you agree with that?

Camille: Definitely, definitely. I saw it as my opportunity to see the beauty in something that I struggle with. You know, eczema is something that hasn't totally gone away for me. I sometimes still flare up, but I've now seen that as a blessing and also I like to say a friend, you know that friend that when you're doing something that's not so great for you and they're like, “Hey, why are you doing that? You know it's not great for you.” I see eczema as that sign and it'll flare up when I'm pushing myself too much, I'm not getting enough sleep or I'm not eating well, and it's that little friend that goes, “Hey, take care of you now” or “Stop pouring out onto others. Think about you.” And I go, “Okay, eczema. I'm going to get an early night.”

Camille: And I see it as my physical sign to do what's best for me. And I feel blessed that I am able to view my eczema in that way and I want other people to be able to view it in that way too, because some people don't have those signs and then it's too late. So we actually can look our eczema and say, “Hey, thank you for giving me the signs that I need to get back on track with what's best for me.”

Jennifer: Camille, I have one last question for you. So I know for a lot of people listening to this they may go “Okay, so this sounds like I'm saying a lot of yeses to me, like focus on me.” But what if that's hard for someone? And so maybe the initial step is just learning how to say no. Did you have to learn in the process of how to say no? Right? Because you're saying, “I'm going to turn in.” What if you had an invitation to go out that night? Do you have any thoughts on how do you start to say no to the things that aren't on the path that's best for what you need to do for you?

Camille: I came up with this phrase, which is own who you are, and I say it to myself all the time and I also say to myself, “Camille, “Fit out don't fit in.” Because a lot of my choices tend to be not the norm and not everyone struggles or lives with eczema. So I've had to learn to fit out and see that as a great thing and own who I am and be my own best friend. So if sometimes people are going out and I know it's best for me to stay in then I'll say to myself, “Okay, if I'm being my own best friend right now, what would I say?” And I would say, “Stay in, do what's best for you.” To protect yourself as you would someone you love. That is what really helped me.

Jennifer: Yeah and actually that's really brilliant, I love that. I think that's a wonderful thing because many of us have felt like outsiders. You know I hear stories very similar, we've all had these stories when we've struggled with skin issues where we feel very isolated, it's very difficult to fit in because you can't do the things that quote unquote normal people do and you start to get into this space where you're sort of, “why do they get to live a normal life? And it's not me. Why not me? This isn't fair.” And for you you're saying, “No, you know what, I'm just going to like embrace the fact that I'm not going to exactly fit into that and that's okay. I'm going to love that.” and I think that's a great mindset to have to share with everyone and it's something that you don't have to be an adult to do. You could do as a teenager, which considering, I mean I was bullied as a kid. I wished that I had heard that even if I didn't have any skin issues then, then that would have been helpful to hear it at the time. So I think it's really applicable.

Jennifer: Well I just want to thank you so much for being a guest on the show and maybe we can have you come back sometime and we can dive deeper into some of these principles and parts of your story and advice that you'd like to share with people.

Camille: That would be amazing yeah.

Jennifer: Yeah, and so for everybody listening, like I said, we'll put everything in the show notes so it's really easy to find Camille as well as get copies of her books and you can get digital copies, right?

Camille: Yes. We've just launched the ebook of the beauty of eczema book and with the prelaunch it comes with the digital version of the positive scribes journal but actually we are also launching a digital positive scribes four week mini journal, so you will be able to get both digital, yes.

Jennifer: Awesome. That is great and everyone please go check her out, connect with her. I think she's an asset and really a gem as part of this community and I love tuning into her stories on Instagram, they're very positive, I love seeing what she's doing. So hopefully if you're on Instagram, you will do so too.

Jennifer: All right. Thanks everyone for tuning in and Camille, I really appreciate you being here.

Camille: Thank you so much for having me.

I see it [eczema] as my physical sign to do what's best for me. And I feel blessed that I am able to view my eczema in that way and I want other people to be able to view it in that way too.