By Alyce Collins
THIS WOMAN was told her rosacea made her look ‘UNPROFESSIONAL’ for a work environment and was once mistaken for a burns survivor as even smiling caused her skin to TEAR – but now she claims to have found a cure through fasting for EIGHTEEN HOURS a day.
Freelance writer and photographer, Jessica Anwyl (27) from Melbourne, Australia, became incredibly sick in 2015 and was treated in hospital for septicaemia after a UTI spread through her body. Jessica began to experience adverse effects to the medication she was given when she developed food sensitivities and a mild skin condition. Jessica was prescribed steroid creams to help her rosy cheeks, but this only made her skin worse by aggravating it.
Medication made Jessica’s allergies worse and her face became redder and itchier. The intensity of the reactions led Jessica to cut out all food until she dropped to just 6st 2lb. Jessica had to gradually incorporate different foods back into her diet, one at a time, helping her learn which foods worked for her body and which didn’t.
However, the skin condition persisted for over three months, so Jessica saw a dermatologist who told her it was the worst skin condition he’d ever seen. Jessica was diagnosed with rosacea fulminans, an aggravated form of rosacea which can cause blisters, cysts and scars.
Jessica’s inflamed skin burned and itched, with flare ups being triggered by heat, exercise, certain foods and at its worst, even a slight breeze. Jessica couldn’t smile or laugh without the skin on her face tearing as her skin opened like a wound before scabbing over. The dermatologists admitted that steroids were the incorrect choice and later tried antibiotics and anti-inflammatory creams and medication, but still these didn’t work.
For so long, Jessica had been used to having clear skin and was devasted by her new appearance. Nurses would ask Jessica how she got such bad burns on her face, and while on a flight, a passenger commented that she resembled a victim of the Hiroshima tragedy. Even a doctor said Jessica couldn’t go to work as her appearance was ‘unprofessional’.
Medical treatment wasn’t helping so in 2016 Jessica decided to try and heal her skin with a natural approach by eating natural foods and intermittent fasting for 18 hours every day.
“After taking medication for an infection in 2015, the mild skin condition appeared,” said Jessica.
“Eventually, after taking more medication to treat the mild skin condition, I became allergic to more foods. My skin was getting worse with each round of medication and so did my allergies.
“It got to the point where I was allergic to all food. I couldn’t even drink coconut water without having extreme pain, hot flushes, panic attacks, rashes, and vomiting. Eventually I got so scared and stopped eating all together. I slowly started introducing one food at a time before gradually expanding and experimenting.
“About three months into medical treatment I got worse, so I sought out the best dermatologist in Melbourne who said I was the worst case he’d ever seen and was also the only one who agreed that my allergies were related to my skin issues.
“He diagnosed me with rosacea fulminans, but it meant nothing to me. Every doctor prior had guessed and experimented on me. I didn’t really care about the diagnosis, I just knew I had to get better, and that’s all I cared about.
“I was getting lots of tests done and the nurses asked me how I got burned and I’d have to tell them that I’m not a burns survivor. I couldn’t smile without my skin tearing and bleeding, that’s how bad it got. Before my skin got to its worst, I went to my doctor to request a sick note because I was having trouble eating and had a lot of anxiety around my skin, which is when he said, ‘of course, you couldn’t go into work looking like that. It’d be unprofessional’.
“The worst reaction I got was when I was well enough to travel to Asia. A guy turned to his Japanese girlfriend and said I looked like ‘a near miss from Hiroshima’ and laughed.
“I had black scabs all over my face. If they got wet, it would become like a flesh wound and wash away. I have uneven skin and dents in my skin as a result of occasions when it got wet.
“When it was worse, I couldn’t bare the outside elements. The sun or the slightest breeze would cause me great pain, and itchiness, but I couldn’t scratch as the skin would come off and that was excruciating.
“When it first started, they gave me steroid creams, but they exacerbated it. The dermatologists later said that was a mistake, so further treatments included antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. It frustrated me because I was used to having clear skin. When it got bad, I hated myself and blamed myself for trying to take the easy option by trusting the professionals.”
Three years ago, Jessica grew fed up of trialling new medication and still being told that her skin might never recover. Instead, Jessica decided a natural approach to healing might be more beneficial, and since then her skin condition has improved to now being mild rosacea.
“Medical professionals kept focusing on diagnosis and saying I’d never get better, only worse, then they’d hand me more drugs. I had nothing to lose by trying something else,” said Jessica.
“I intermittent fast for 18 hours every day. I eat fruits, nuts and seeds, and a massive salad with steamed broccoli, and thinly sliced organic beef, lemon juice and olive oil. It’s very basic. I don’t eat dairy and I occasionally have fish. I snack on berries and love coconut products as they’re very cooling.
“That’s what I do daily to heal, but I can mix it up without having the severe reactions I used to get. I flare up when I exercise, in the heat, if I eat too much fat, gluten, gluten-free grains, starches, certain vegetables, sugars, wine, and stress.
“I’ve worked so hard to get to this point. I’m unbelievably thankful for my body, its ability to heal, and that my journey wasn’t for nothing as my story has helped others deal with their insecurities. I wouldn’t choose to do it all again, but I wouldn’t take it back. I know that one day I will fully reverse all my conditions.
“We focus and obsess on the external aspects of ourselves, and although they matter, they don’t matter anywhere near as much as we think they do. It’s because we want to feel loved, accepted, and appreciated, but those feelings come from within.
“For me, learning to love and accept the skin I’m in has allowed me to focus on becoming a better person, which has made my relationships closer, my conversations deeper, and the work I do more meaningful. Now, I help others do that through photography.
“Focus on learning to love the skin you’re in, to accept yourself and see yourself for who you are. It’ll allow you to feel accepted, appreciated and loved and make you a better friend, mum, sister or brother.”
To see more about Jessica’s journey and how she’s healing herself, visit www.instagram.com/in.the.ra