Sunday, 6 July 2014

What Causes Flares?

Now that I'm in "healed mode" it is easier to look back with some clarity over my time with TSW.

One of the things I used to beat myself up over was that certain things may "cause" a flare, or that it I flared, it was because I was doing something wrong.

I realise a lot of people feel this way and therefore try and eliminate the things that they feel are causing the flare. The popular ones on the forum right now are sugar and stress. People think if they eliminate sugar/stress from their lives, they won't flare.

The fact is, that in retrospect, although I believed this when I was going through TSW, I now see that it is a lot lore simple than that.

Flares happen.

If you are in TSW, flares would happen, even if you ate a super healthy diet and spent every day relaxing on a lounger, served by an army of good-looking servants who appealed to your every whim.

Flares would still happen because they are a part of TSW.

I use the analogy of a wave. If a wave is coming. You can't stop the wave. Nothing you did caused the wave. The only thing you can do is prepare yourself to ride the wave. The wave will stop, another will come. You have no control over it.

Here is one of my favourite quotes from the forum, which sums up exactly how I feel about this subject:

Coffee causes flares, wine causes flares, chocolate causes flares. And on and on.

Here is what I've learned in 18 months:

If you're going to flare, everything causes a flare. If you're not in a flare, nothing causes a flare.

Right now, for example, I am in a calm period. I drink a beer or two. (I don't get drunk as that limits consciousness, but that's neither here nor there.)

I drink beet juice (which vasodilates blood vessels). I drink coffee. No flares.

When in a flare, simply drinking water "caused" me to flare.

If everything causes you to flare, then nothing caused your flare.

Some people claim X cause them to flare. Here's something to ask yourself (or them).

"If you claim that coffee causes a flare, why?"

"Because I flared badly after drinking coffee."

"Does this mean when you eliminated coffee [or whatever the offending item was] that you never flared badly?"


"If you flared when not drinking coffee, how can you know that coffee causes a flare?"

"I just do!"

No, that is nonsensical thinking. It's a very common mistake in human thinking called a fundamental attribution error:

If you still flare when you've eliminated the causes of your flare, then what you think is causing a flare is not in fact causing it.

Makes sense logically, doesn't it?

But the mind plays tricks on people.

Over the past 18 months I've seen people claim that all sorts of things caused their flares.

Those same people then talk about how they are flaring.

But if you discovered the causes of your flares, how are you still flaring?

Again, logically we all know the answer.

Emotionally, it's harder to accept that we are not in control of this process.

I understand the need to try and create order out of the chaos, or apply rules and logic to the situation, but it seems that TSW breaks all of the rules. It is heartbreaking sometimes for me to see people trying different methods to eliminate the "cause" of their flares and then wonder why they are still flaring.

Acceptance is hard, but the moment we let go and accept that flares are part and parcel of the healing process, the easier it is to deal with.


Isaiah Quinn said...

THIS. ... yes and amen...

brista said...


Mandy said...

Oh amen. I am flaring badly (worst flare since I started) at 22 months and was driving myself crazy thinking of what I could have done/what I can do now. Acceptance is hard, even for us "upperclassmen".

Wynter said...

This post came at perfect timing. i was getting upset because i put moisturizer on my skin to hide the skin flakes and my face is now bright red :( I can't win!!!

Sarah Connon-Griffiths said...

I've said this so many times, wrote something similar in one of my previous posts.
I think it's classic eczema mentality. We've all grown up being told "DO NOT SCRATCH YOU'LL MAKE IT WORSE" and so in my head scratching = eczema. For YEARS I was convinced that if i could just stop scratching I wouldn't even have a skin problem. TSW is liberating in that sense. Flares happen and flares = healing.

Great post Louise, glad you're getting some relief too :)

Sarah Connon-Griffiths said...

ps i posted this on one of the facebook tsw groups, i hope thats ok, i think it can really help some people. especially those early in tsw x

Domonique Garvin said...

How long do the flare ups last? I'm having a really bad flare with oozing..I have been off steroids for a month...Please help..Thanks

louise jones said...

At the beginning of TSW, the flares can last several weeks. In my early months I used to have flares that lasted 3 weeks.

Over time the flares are shorter and have longer gaps in between.

MoreMuchMore said...

Hi Everyone!!

I love this blog...well I love all of the blogs that help me with this situation that we're all going through. I'm coming up on the beginning of my eighth month. And although I have eczema, I was using the topical steroids for the same purpose as the many people in India. I was naiive and immature and VERY uneducated!! Stopping the steroids caused my underlying eczema (which hadn't been an issue since I was a child) to go into the same withdrawal process as everyone else. So here I am.

But the purpose of my comment is to say that I noticed that my "wave" of flare happens right before my menstrual cycle begins. And what is already a hard week...becomes a difficult two weeks, since my flares last well into my cycle. UGH!! But I'm hopeful that I will heal...and I'm thankful for blogs like this....because no one that I tell, believes that this is real and a true condition. But I have blogs like this that I can quickly refer them to.

Thanks AGAIN!