AMBER LOVE 06-FEB-2015 If you follow me on Twitter @elizabethamber, you may have caught the tweets about my hives outbreak.

Please – for the love of all that’s holy, I know every conceivably thing it “could be” or “remedy” – so I’m not looking for advice. Food. Environment. Animals. Cosmetics. Detergents. You name it – I’m aware of the possibilities. The first time this happened, I was in my 20’s and saw doctors. I kept a journal of every single thing my physical body came in contact with: all the soap, all the food, etc. Biopsies revealed NOTHING. Before I saw the doctors, my mother imparted her motherly wisdom and said it’s stress. She has to be right.

Now, I appropriate the famous Jenny Lawson, “The Bloggess,” and begin with her quote and add my own to it. “Depression lies…”





I’m not saying the environment + food aren’t contributing factors to my hives. I think there’s a whole “big picture” thing going on. The years when I didn’t have outbreaks and didn’t have high blood pressure – were the years when I was “healthy,” (thin) and meticulously watching my food intake. I was also living somewhere else instead of in this house where I haven’t been able to breathe since the day I walked in the door. But those years were more importantly an era of my mental health that had limited stressors. Now it’s 2015 and a few weeks ago, these damn hives came back with a vengeance to attack my neck, face (including eye lids), arms/hands, and legs; and they brought with them their mercenary, the herpes cold sore to take out my lips.



Years ago when I lost my job (yes, again, I think that was #2 or #3), and had a husband that witnessed one of my nervous breakdowns and suicide attempts. He agreed that he would take on the bill-paying and the financial burden. I had that weight lifted. I was still highly anxious, but forced myself to go out almost every day whether it was the YMCA or the comic shop. It was never “easy” and without stress, but it was less stress or rather, a different kind of stress. I wasn’t thinking my survival depended on whether or not I got to those places. I didn’t have hive outbreaks during that time. I was eating measured amounts of food. I was really into hydrocolonics. I was exercising (and still felt like I was failing at it). I removed stressors like money from my equation. The only allergies I seemed to have back then were sneezing fits while dusting and being around other people’s commercial fragrances and smoke. My body might not have been showing “symptoms” of something wrong, but I was still mentally abnormal. But, that’s what I call my “healthy era” because it had the least shit upsetting me and I was smoking hot and hive-free.



It’s embarrassing to look at this intangible thing we call stress and then blame it for physical things. There’s the theory that stress releases cortisol which contributes to weight gain and is one explanation for the endless cycle people have: stressed because we’re fat, stressed because nothing is working, given medications that make us not want to do anything or have adverse effects of weight gain, release more cortisol as we see ourselves as failures, repeat… It’s an endless cycle of: weight issues = stress = weight issues. Cortisol is easy to blame because it’s a “thing” in the body (like thyroid hormones). It’s quantifiable and validates the cause and effect.

Yet there’s that fantastic population out there who makes people like me feel mocked – those “woe is me I’m 110 pounds and can’t gain weight.” I hate those people. I’m sorry but I do. I don’t want to because some of them are loved ones and I’m very hippy-dippy-granola about loving all kinds of bodies. I know logically that bodies are unique. We aren’t cranked out of body factory like identical gingerbread cutouts. But every time I see someone at a healthy weight complaining, I can’t explain my feelings as anything else but vitriol. I’m serious when I confess a fair number of my friends who I love dearly could’ve been killed by eye lasers if I had them. Cortisol doesn’t make them fat! Why does it make people like me fat? My non-scientific conclusion tells me that even different bodies still follow the same biological processes of cellular activity so cortisol is not the cause and green tea will not make you thin. Why can thin friends can eat half an entree and say they’re full? Why can they make posts that they “forgot” to eat? Who the fuck forgets to eat!? Bodies get hungry! Bodies need fuel! Why don’t you have granola bars in your purse?



The thing is, if you can’t handle stress or suffer from anxiety, you get put on medications like SSRIs. Only… they don’t work for me. I still take the time to research them and see if new things are out there, but I’ve come to terms with who I am. I’m actually fine with who I am. The only catalyst that would drive me to medicate again would be to please someone else who doesn’t like me how I am and my survival would require their approval. Now, that could be an employer, not a romantic interest; it could mean a parent who says if I don’t, they’ll kick me out (thankfully hasn’t happened). There are scenarios where I would revisit meds, but it’s pretty unlikely. Of all the meds I tried, there were a few that made matters a whole lot worse.

“No one knows exactly how SSRIs work, if indeed they really do work at all. One plausible explanation is that they mask symptoms of depression in moderate cases that resolve themselves spontaneously. It is also well known that the more a drug is hyped in the mainstream media as a “miracle drug”, the greater is the likelihood of a strong placebo effect. What is, however, fundamentally problematic from an ethical point of view is the over inflation of SSRI effectiveness and safety, questionable marketing strategies, and the megadose prescriptions that can alter brain chemistry and behaviour for the worse.” JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ETHICS, 2006



Yes, one of my newest coping mechanisms is animated gifs. God bless the internet for those candies. I like the simple animated gif – the ones that show reactions and have good quotes. I hate the spastic ones that set off migraines and probably cause a lot of people seizures. K-I-S-S, graphic lovers. Keep it simple, Stupid. My hives are with me today still. I want to unzip this skin-suit and crawl out of it.

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