29 January 2012

Thick skin.

 "To escape criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."
~ Elbert Hubbard

Considering my skin is physically very thin and fragile, I think I have pretty thick skin (metaphorically). And considering how much judgment I receive about my appearance, it's funny how I put myself out there to receive more.

The day job I have - writing and events - means that I'm prone to criticism whenever there's a spelling mistake or a misunderstanding or an omission of information in an invitation. When I write content at work, it comes back to me with track changes and red pen marks and arrows and opinions. I've learned to take this sort of criticism less personally - after all I'm presenting fact, rather than personal opinion - and use it to improve next time I write.

Choosing to blog and write outside of work has also meant I've had to develop a sense of resilience. Everyone's an editor, everyone's a critic, and they're not afraid to voice it.

After blogging about the Typo retard card last week, the reality of high readership, divisive opinions and the way people value words hit me. Of course, I am open to differing opinion, but when I am personally criticised for something I believe in - respect for people with disabilities - it can be hard. I resassured myself that many of the readers and commenters had come to my blog fresh, and with no context about why I write, or my involvement in the disability community. And from the comments I received on Twitter, Facebook and this blog, I realised that the issue needed to be raised to help people think different about how they use derogatory words.

Mia Freedman wrote about having thick skin. "Someone once said to me “What other people think of you is none of your business”. I think that’s excellent advice but it’s not always easy to follow. Because no matter how much you try not to care or be diverted by mindless abuse from strangers who can’t spell and use exclamation points with gay abandon, it can be tricky to look away."

It can be tricky. And for every positive comment I receive, the negative ones play on my mind more. Most bloggers say they write for themselves. I think this is true of myself to an extent - I don't consider my blog's audience as much as my audience at work. It feels great to have a readership, recognition and discussion generated. But when writing comes from a place of personal experience or strong belief, opinions from others can sting. Sometimes the sting is the same feeling as when my skin is sore and I rip off my stocking, leaving it bloody and throbbing. And fortunately like my skin, a sense of renewal ensues and the sting doesn't linger too long.

These past three weeks or so I've felt the skin on the sole of my foot gradually tear away from the arch. And it's become unbearably painful this long weekend. The pain is piercing and throbbing and makes my foot very hard to walk on, touch or have fabric next to. My feet are very ticklish too so I feel like I am aware of every movement or touch on my foot.

I am currently on the couch with my legs elevated, and my foot is drying from a salt bath. I'll spare you a photo of the wound site, because it is quite yucky. But here is a photo of my bandaged (Tubefasted?) foot last night - Mum and I went to St Kilda for Spanish Tapas - will blog about it soon. I was hobbling and I did realise that for one in my life, wearing heels would have been the more sensible option over flats because walking on the ball of my foot took the pressure off the pain. Sadly that is the only outfit photo from last night.

Aside from the salt bath, I've had to take antibiotics, panadol and bandage it up with cotton pads and antiseptic cream. Cutting the flappy skin away from my foot is the worst. This morning I went to buy some more crepe bandages. Who knew they were so expensive!?! I've been fortunate enough to get them from the hospital after a stay, but today I saw they are over $8 a bandage. Daylight robbery.
I also bought some healthy-ish comfort food to make me feel a bit better. Yalla chocolate mousse and mango yoghurt with granola, and some figs (there are about six in the container, and I will eat them quickly!) - among some other fruity goodies. A big shout out to The Happy Apple Grocer who always make me feel happy when I shop there.  My breakfast was a glass of pineapple juice, a fig and the Yalla yoghurt.
My foot will be ok. It really is so painful, and I continue to hate the unpredictability of this condition, but I have to tell myself toughen up, princess, and just ride the pain out. It's good I enjoy sitting down so much!

This physical skin fragility has put the need for metaphorical skin thickness into perspective. The criticism I receive writing and putting my opinion out there could never be as painful as the skin tear and infection on my foot.

It hasn't been all doom and gloom this long weekend. Mum's been here and we have had a nice time cooking and eating good food, cleaning up a bit and drinking wine. I received some super exciting news which I will be able to reveal publicly soon. I also booked my flights to Los Angeles and New York via Auckland - thanks for all the airline advice on Twitter - I'll be flying Air New Zealand. I arrive in Los Angeles on 22 July and get to New York on 26 July, returning 12 August! And I also bought a new washing machine because mine broke. Looks like I'll be living on beans and rice until the end of the year to pay for it all.


  1. Oh Carly
    It's been one of those mixed bag weekends all round.

    Take care and heal.

    I agree about blogging and the way it can both give and take from your sense of self.

    SSG xxx

  2. Time can be tough Carly. But everything happen for a reason.

    You have this skin condition, so you can develop the heart on improving our community's disabililty / DDA issues. Isn't this a greater job than most of us?

    I believe those negative comment that you received, will only make you a stronger person, as well as thinking in a way that this negative will only improve your writing skill, and will not put your moral down. You should also be happy that at least you know that your writing has been viewed by them! ^_^

    Hang on there, you still have plenty of meaningful duties to complete.


    1. Oh mind you Carly, my English and grammar isn't that good either. People love me is not what I wrote on paper, but is the meaning that I put down.

      cheers... meow............

  3. I honestly don't know why people see the need to get so negative about differences of opinion - you think something is offensive, they don't. I don't know why they need to be mean to you because of it. Sigh. Oh well. You're beautiful & one of my favourite bloggers Carly! I hope you're feeling a bit better soon.

  4. Well done for being so brave in standing up for what you believe in. It takes courage to deal with criticism.

    Reading through the comments to your post, I can't help but be struck by how many people said it didn't bother them. That indicates to me a certain lack of insight. There's an irony in their anger stemming from a sense that someone is curbing their freedom (of speech)- when your point is to defend the freedom (of dignity.)

    Language is a powerful tool in shaping opinions. It's a good thing that you can put it in perspective- especially as any kind of public communication is open to criticism.

  5. Those negative comments really sting, don't they? And you're right: for some reason, they seem to have far more impact than the positive comments. It's so easy to think that people are just being positive to be nice - they don't really mean it. But when people are negative, they must mean it... and they're probably being more honest than those nice people (who just happen to outnumber the nasties). It doesn't matter that we know that isn't true, because the human mind seems to work in a very strange way indeed and won't let us believe in nice things at times.

    I hope both of your skins are coming along well. :)

  6. i love reading your blog. i may not always agree with your opinions, but i love how brave you are in putting forward your perspective and passionately advocating for what you believe in.

    strong and take care of yourself carly xoxo

  7. Hope you are back on your feet ( without pain) soon. Take care

  8. Hey Carly,
    Sorry about ur foot and I hope it heals quickly!
    Just wondering, why do u need antibiotics and panadol? I have that type of wound all over my body but I hardly ever take them. Even when it's bath time I don't take pain meds. Interestingly these days EB kids are given strong pain meds for bath time.
    I had to giggle at the $8 bandage because I wear up to $1000 of bandages every day! Hehe
    Anyways keep being strong!

    1. Hey Nikki I've been advised to take antis and pain meds as a prevention before infection sets in. I don't think the pain meds help. Strong ones make me feel sick tho.

  9. Thanks for your support and wishes everyone :) means a lot xx

  10. I think more people in the world need to put their opinion out there. I think you - and I - put our opinions out there because we know how tough life can be day-in-and-day-out. I have rheumatoid arthritis and live in chronic pain. I take no prisoners. I'm often fondly referred to as a 'ball breaker'. I'm proud of it because I know nothing hurts me more when the pain wears me down and my life comes to a crashing holt. I often read your blog, but find it difficult to leave comments - it rejects me! So, I will write my own blog address here for you to check out: www.lifeandtimeswithart.wordpress.com
    Shan xo

  11. Oh Carly - I'm sorry to hear about your foot and hope that it mends quickly. Feet issues are so unfortunate because we're busy ladies who need to get around so my commiserations are your discomfort. I do admire though your ability to see the metaphorical side of things and draw strength from one challenge to help you in another.

    Very excited to hear about your travelling news - can't wait til the announcement and you are going to have a swell time in New York! I wish that I could go to IFB but that time of the year is so busy at work for me so I'll just have to live vicariously through you! X

  12. Hi, Carly. I'm sorry to hear that some of the flak you received from your post regarding Typo and its inappropriate stock caused you some grief. I read some of those comments and I was genuinely flummoxed that somebody could defend use of a derogatory term. Sure, people use terms like "retard" in ways that they believe are harmless. This is part of the harm.

    Anyhow, on a completely different note: I used to work in healthcare. Let me tell you that pharmacies mark up the price on bandages and wound-care products phenomenally. If you're likely to go through a fair few of these supplies, I absolutely recommend Independence Australia http://www.independenceaustralia.com/health-solutions/.

    We used to order through them sometimes at work (but you don't have to be a business to order from them). If you search for crepe bandage on their webstore site, you'll find 12 packs of crepe bandages for $20, or individual bandages for a couple of dollars, depending on the dimensions you prefer.

    I hope this helps! x

  13. Hey Carly :)

    I actually get my mom to send me bandages from Malaysia, it's much cheaper even with postage! If you like I can get her to scout out some for you?

    I have severe keratosis pilaris and when I was young they tried to treat it with steroid cream, leaving me with very very thin patches of skin that tear easily :( every so often if I don't look after it I get a nasty infected patch on my leg.

    Hope you feel better!! xx


Thank you for reading my blog. I love receiving comments :)
I really appreciate the time you've taken to write to me, and to share something about yourself.


Related Posts with Thumbnails