Topical Steroid Withdrawl


10/20/16 TSW 2 years 17 days

I let the 2 year anniversary pass me by, 10/3/16. I’ve been in a funk. I believe I am in the midst of another anniversary flare. It’s hard to tell, as I still flare monthly with hormone cycles, but this month it has been more widespread than it has been for quite a while, and the skin that is not visibly affected is feeling tight and itchy again.

Currently I am struggling with depression and anxiety. I was convinced that I was well prepared for this process. I reminded myself often that this could be a process that takes years. The closer I got to the 2 year mark though, the more depressed I got. I haven’t even documented recent pictures, I don’t have the motivation.

Then vs. Now

What has changed since 10/3/14? Has it been worth it? Do I think I will ever totally heal?

I think to most people, the physical changes in my body since I stopped all corticosteroids are pretty obvious. My skin has healed so much it’s crazy. I went from open, oozing, burning, smelling flesh on an estimated 70% of my body to itchy reddish dry flesh on about 15% of my body.

Why so depressed then, that is huge improvement right? I am absolutely grateful for the healing I have experienced in the past 2 years. My depression and anxiety at least partially stems from my concern that I HAVE finished healing already, that my current state will be my forever state. I worry that I’m doomed to have skin flares for at least 2 weeks every month for the rest of my life. I believe that my body developed a sensitivity to progesterone after the birth of my daughter. The steroids caused a new issue to become worse, but were not the cause of my original eczema. How do you combat a sensitivity to your own naturally produced hormones? Why you treat it with steroids of course.  Or you don’t treat it with Western medicine at all.

No matter the end outcome, if my eczema resolves completely or I continue to flare every month, one thing I am absolutely sure about is my decision to cease steroid use. I was at a point that my eczema was continuing to spread almost daily. I truly believe if I had never found ITSAN I would be covered head to toe, out of work, and bed bound. 2 weeks a month of relatively calm skin is more than I ever would have had a chance at while using topicals.

This is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. To any newbies out there, the process of recovery from red skin syndrome is long and vicious. Hang in there, know you are not alone, and be confident that your body is happy the steroids were stopped (even if it isn’t as obvious as you hoped).


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7/1/16 TSW 1 year 8 months 28 days 9 hours (not that I’ve been counting) Thriving 2 months 2 days


My armpit area break out is finally calming down. Now my stomach and back are flaring. Nothing too horrible. Still have rashy calves and hands.


I’ve been thriving (https://syirka.le-vel.com/) for 2 months now. I’ve lost 9.5 lbs, though weight loss wasn’t my main goal. The weight has been coming off as a direct result of me doing more during my day and eating healthier. I still have not started going to the gym, and I honestly do not FEEL like I am doing any work. I am taking daily “adventure” walks with my kiddo and hula hooping. One of my biggest concerns about Thrive was the cost. I shared in earlier posts about how bad my diet was. I looked at some numbers today. In the month of March I spent a total of $166.57(GASP!!) at convenience stores or fast food restaurants. This is debit only and doesn’t count the rare occurrence of cash pay. I looked at March because in April I traveled to see my sister and my spending habits were not my norm. May was my first full month on Thrive. I spent a total of $34.77 at those same stores. Holy crap. Now I know this calculation does not show saving money, because I am spending more on groceries now, buying healthier foods. It does show the very dramatic difference in my diet/shopping habits after starting Thrive.

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6/9/16 TSW 20 Months 6 days, Thriving 1 Month 10 Days


I’m noticing some interesting things with my skin.  I don’t know if it is the Supplements I’m taking or the normal progression of my TSW, but my skin is getting really soft again. My flare spots (hands, ankles, calves) are unchanged and continue to bother me, but the spots that are not flaring feel amazing. I am still reacting to the DFT patch so I have been using them only 3-4 times per week rather than every day. I am also still having some skin flaring surrounding my armpit area on both sides, it started with my Hormonal flare last month and has not left.  Overall I had hoped to have some more progression with my skin by Summer, but it is what it is.


I have been on Thrive for over a month now (https://syirka.le-vel.com/). I have discovered some things about the way Thrive does and does not work for me. The first 2 weeks were pretty awesome, I got lots of things done and felt better than I had in a long time.

The next 2 weeks I was still doing better than my pre-Thrive state, but I wasn’t doing as much. I was still able to abstain from Soda/Coffee, and I was still doing well at work, but I would come home and want to hit the couch again. I was falling asleep early again. I wasn’t sure about Thrive anymore.

A little more than a week ago I realized that I was fighting it. Sure I had the energy, but I didn’t really WANT to do things. I’m a home body. I enjoy solitude, have never been into sports or other physical activities, and generally avoid socializing if I can figure out how. Thrive is not magic. I did not suddenly turn into an extrovert that loves to run. I didn’t wake up and have a new personality. All that lovely natural energy derived from Thrive was turning into heavy anxiety in the pit of my stomach. I would sit on the couch and feel incredibly anxious, odd in my own skin. I would think about finding an activity to do or exercising, but I wasn’t able to go from thought to action. I finally figured out that no Supplement or Nutrition regimen will ever work if my mind is working against it. I messaged a friend and made plans for the weekend that included physical activity. When the day came I had the urge to cancel, but forced myself to go anyway. As soon as I got there I started to enjoy myself. I picked up a hula hoop and went for it. I feel like the exercise almost “activated” the energy to pick up again. It was like pushing a button. As soon as I started doing something I had even more energy and motivation to continue.

Now when I walk in the door after work, I try to picture a big red “activate” button in my head. I mentally push that button and start doing something physical (house cleaning or organizing, hooping in the living room.. whatever can get me moving). As long as I can remind myself to get started, I know I will have no problems continuing it. If my behind has the chance to get comfy on the couch, it’s much more of an uphill mental battle.

I have lost 7 lbs over the past month and 10 days, despite my stubborn periods where I wasn’t doing much. I am still eating healthier and am drawn to foods that are better for me. I haven’t wanted to step foot in a convenience store in weeks. I also am not even tempted to eat fast food (and the one time I did for convenience my body made me pay in a big way, GI distress like crazy).

Do I feel my first month was worth the amount I paid for it? Yes, for me it was. Something needed to change for me, and I think Thrive was the kick in the butt I needed.

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5/3-5/6/16 TSW 19 Months, Thriving Day 5-8


Thrive update:

Cleaning and organization do not come naturally to me. I truly have to work at it, and it has been harder since having a partner and child. I went into my weekend (Sun/Mon) with the intent to clean. I was up at 4 am on Sunday and jumped right into doing dishes after my shake. The shake is meant to be ingested 4 days/week. I’ve decided for my schedule that F-M works best.

The result of my weekend is a Kitchen that has been scrubbed down and a bathroom that sparkles. I actually did DEEP cleaning when usually all I have the energy for is surface stuff, if that. I also tackled the laundry which is a deep seated hatred for me since we do not have machines in house and use the apartment complex machines.

I think this part is mostly in my head, but I won’t argue with it: I started craving veggies. I thought about dinner and all I could picture in my head was greens. This from a meat and potatoes kinda girl. I had an awesome Salad from a place called Crisp. If you know me then you are probably aware of my strange anxiety issues around grocery shopping etc., so though I was craving good foods, I still ordered it. My anxiety problems are the next project for me to start addressing.

Today is the first day without the shake. I’m noticing a marked difference from the days I had it. I am awake and not craving caffeine or soda, but I don’t feel quite the same burst of energy in the morning I have the past 4 days.

Skin update:

My skin is still relatively calm. I have been itchy in the armpit area the last few days. Not sure if it is from the heat (85 in Portland yesterday), the sweating, the exercise from cleaning, the new Supplements, or if it is just the TSW monster saying its time. Otherwise nothing new to report on the skin front.


Skin update:

When I peeled off the DFT patch this morning there was a small amount of skin reaction. It always leaves a bit of an outline of residue that I need to scrub off. After scrubbing today I noticed the outline in rash form. It isn’t itchy and I’m thinking this is an area of skin that is more sensitive and will avoid using it in the future.Still going to keep using the patch because of the results I’m having energy wise.

shoulder thrive

Thrive update:

My energy did increase yesterday in the afternoon even without the shake. I decided, however, to drink a shake this morning and am considering ordering more so I can take it every day instead of 4x/week. I’m not great at figuring out healthy breakfast so the shake plus some fruit has been working for me.

I am still going strong on the no soda front. The natural caffeine in the Supplements makes the transition easier, no headaches or cravings.

I lost about 4lbs in the first 3 days. My weight has not changed much since then, and I’m guessing that drop was mostly from nixing the soda and drinking more water. My muscles are pleasantly sore though, telling me how much of a work out I’ve been getting just from cleaning house. When I’ve got things at home set up the way I want them I’m planning to begin an exercise routine.


Today was pretty low energy. Probably the most similar to how I felt before I started Thrive. Granted I didn’t go to sleep until about 9:30 pm and I have to wake up at 3 am. I also think it is pretty normal to have some ups and downs while adjusting. Not much to report for the day. The small rash from the DFT patch is going away, but I am getting a small reaction each time now. They do not itch and appear to heal pretty quickly so I am going to continue using them for now.


Today I woke up and had energy right away again. As much as I hate the idea of selling things, I really am considering becoming a promoter because of how much Thrive has worked for me. My website is https://syirka.le-vel.com/. Please feel free to contact me with questions about the site or products, it can be bothersome figuring the site out. You can see the products and find the PDF of the contents without a user name, but in order to see prices or buy anything you have to sign up.

My 5 3/4 year old told me yesterday that she “can’t wait to talk to Grandma so I can tell her how good you’ve been lately.” It has been awesome hearing the positive feedback from my family. My partner Jon also has mentioned how much better things have been this week. Both of us have been in a rut and the Thrive is helping me break us out. Our house is getting in order, and now that I have more energy I have been awake and able to have actual conversations with him.

I’ve noticed that when I consider my to-do list, things don’t seem insurmountable anymore. It’s definitely a huge change in my way of thinking. Just a week ago (really?? only a week?) it seemed like I was trying to climb mountains. Now they seem like small bumps in the road.

I’ve been binge reading the personal stories and experiences posted on the Le-vel Facebook page. They all resonate with me. Why is it that so many people feel the exact same way? No energy, no motivation, no drive to enjoy life anymore but to just get through.

Not everyone notices a difference right away, and many of them talk about how skeptical they were and how they started and stopped Thrive a few times along the way. Some say they didn’t notice a true difference for several weeks. I am grateful that it has been such an obvious difference so quickly for me. I am sure that I would have been one of the ones to toss it aside after a few days and say it was just another crap fad product. If any of you decide to give Thrive a try at some point (referred by me or not) please give it a real chance to work, at least a month, because being able to LIVE life is so worth it. I played hop scotch with my kid for almost 45 minutes yesterday, as in fully participated and made a jumping fool of myself. I even felt more comfortable with the small talk with the other parents at the playground.

Skin update:

I can’t tell if I’m just more optimistic and crazy or if it’s true but I’d swear the “good” parts of my skin are feeling so much softer. My boyfriend commented “you’re having a good skin day, feels soft.” My skin still looks like the last pictures I posted. I’m curious to see how my hormones affect my skin this month. Hopefully at 19 months in I don’t have too many roller coaster skin up and downs to go through left.

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4/30/16 18 Months 27 Days TSW- Thriving day 2

Day 1 

Yesterday morning at 3:15 am, as planned, I began my Thrive experience. I took the 2 capsules in the morning. I took a salt bath and drank my Vanilla shake after. The shake goes down pretty easily. Not exactly spectacular tasting, but not bad either. After that I put on the DFT patch. I put it on my bicep and then forgot about it for the rest of the day.

I had more energy fairly quickly. As a general skeptic of all things, I can’t ignore the possibility that my excitement about getting and starting the product might have led to my increase in energy.

By 5 am I had so much energy my lips felt like they were buzzing and I was pretty sure it wasn’t a Placebo affect. It almost felt like having too many cups of coffee. As luck would have it, it was an incredibly slow day at work. There I was with excesses energy and stuck in a locked dispensary the size of my (very small apartment) living room. At some point I realized I had been smiling all day. Not just my regular smile, but one of those ones that is a bit too wide and has a twinkle in the corner.

I had a bit of an energy crash at about 7 or 8 am. Nothing too horrid, and I don’t remember even considering drinking a coke, my usual go to. As a frame of reference to this coke problem, I decided I was going to give up soda on a whim about a month and a half ago. I got to work and told everyone I wasn’t going to have any soda and apologized for my probable crankiness. During my lunch break I raided our fridge and found someones fossil of a diet coke in the very back. Nobody claimed it, so I drank a soda I don’t even like that had probably expired before I started working there 6 years ago. I was too cowardly to check. I have soda issues.

My energy levels did pick up again. The lip buzzing calmed down, which was good. I did have 1 or 2 more energy dips throughout the day, but I’m not shocked. I’m going to share my horrific diet even though it’s embarrassing, because in the future I’d like to remember how bad it had gotten. Every day I would get my work day meals from a convenience store. A typical breakfast for me was a microwave sausage egg and cheese biscuit with either coffee or a coke. For lunch I would eat whatever gross microwaved burrito/sandwich/burger I picked for the day. Lunch was always accompanied by a coke of course. Yesterday I went from possibly one of the worst diets on the planet to eating an orange, apple, salad, and veggies with hummus, as well as drinking much more water during my work day without being annoyed or pissed off about it. I had become so disgusted with what I was doing to my body that I didn’t even plan to eat better that day, I just could not bring myself to buy that crap again. I still bought the food at 7-11, but progress is progress.

After work I was able to hang out with my daughter and really engage with her. We had what could have been, and was still a bit, of a tough day. She has been pushing limits a lot and we have been butting heads some. I found that I had more patience with her yesterday. I did a better job of trying to communicate and listen.

Day 2

I feel my body has regulated a bit and I am not as crazy affected as the first day when I was jumping in my skin. I still felt the energy increase but it was more pleasant and less manic than yesterday. Work was busy today, we had someone out, and I felt able to handle it well. Everything was more even keeled today. I didn’t particularly feel dips in energy, though I’m losing steam now, around 8 pm.

Overall I have high hopes. I have the day off tomorrow and I am hoping to tackle getting the house more organized.


I was worried that the patch or ingredients in the products may trigger a skin flare. I’m happy that I have not had any visible effects as of yet. The patch has not bothered me at all so far. I am fairly far along in my TSW. In the beginning I think it may have affected my skin very differently.

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4/28/6 TSW 18 Months 25 days- To Thrive?

Some of you may have already come across those incredibly annoying posts on facebook. The ones where someone is trying out a supplement program and they love it and are trying to make money by selling it, not necessarily directly to you. This is Thrive. For the past month or more I have been seeing Thrive pop up in my facebook news feed. A friend Marie I knew from high school has been posting about it and the way it has changed her life. Every time I saw a new post I would internally scoff. Just some supplements that will give you more energy, help you lose weight (I’m probably the heaviest I’ve been without a child in my belly: 151 lbs- I gained the weight back and more after the anniversary flare), clear mental fog, improve mood etc. Yeah right. Too good to be true. It’s probably just a Placebo type effect. Yet I read every post. I read it and I shamefully pondered what life could be like if I too could have energy and motivation again.

Those of you going through TSW know very well how drained and fogged I feel on a daily basis. I could take naps at any point in the day if given the chance. I drink Soda. Lots of it. I sometimes also drink coffee. My brain often feels like its a few beats behind, like I’m always trying to catch up.

My skin is in a fairly clear stage at the moment. It might seem crazy to try to rock the boat by adding things in to my diet. To me it’s worth the risk of a flare.

What is Thrive?

The website Le-vel.com (which truthfully I found pretty annoying to navigate) describes it as a “lifestyle plan.” What this means is a 3 part morning routine. First is a vitamin, mineral, probiotic etc etc capsule to be taken first thing in the morning with water. These come in one form geared more toward men and one toward women. About a half an hour later the next step is a shake mix also made of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, etc. This comes in vanilla or chocolate. The last step is a DFT (Derma Fusion Technology) patch worn on the skin (eek! scary for TSWers but I’ll be a guinea pig).The patch, from what I can tell as a newbie, contains mostly appetite suppressant type things geared toward weight loss though it also claims to support energy and circulation. Some ingredients include Garcinia Cambogia and White Willow Bark.

Although it is somewhat difficult to tell on the website, you can order them all separately or as a group. If I have issues with the adhesive of the skin patch I will probably cut back to only the capsule and the shake.

**To be able to order anything on the website, you have to have been referred through someone. This encourages people to become “promoters” and get friends and others to try the product. As a promoter you can get free products , promotional things (vacations etc), as well as supplemental income if you are good at it. I felt immediately turned off by the idea of “selling” anything. It almost scared me away from trying Thrive at all. Here is the thing though. I am the one that contacted Marie based on curiosity in her posts. She never actually tried to sell me anything. I would never try to sell someone something if I thought it was BS and I trust that Marie wouldn’t recommend something to her friends if she didn’t believe in it.

I went ahead and ordered a 1 months supply of all three products. They are expensive but if I give up all the caffeinated products I drink as well as the snacking junk food I can put that money toward it. They shipped quickly and arrived today. I will start them tomorrow morning.

I have said in previous posts that I no longer monitor my diet or try different supplements to see how they affect my skin. I still feel this is true. My goal with Thrive is not to improve the condition of my skin, but to hopefully boost my energy and help me with general motivation and clarity. I do plan to change my diet because, well it’s a crappy diet for any person including those with skin problems.

Here are some skin pictures.

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TSW 15 Months 19 days Anniversary Flare

The dreaded anniversary flare. My skin started to take a turn for the worse about a month +/- a week after I hit the year mark. It was gradual. Somewhat more itching. The rash spreading to my stomach and back again. Then the burning came back. Then the ooze. I started losing weight like I did with my first major flare, which was what really convinced me that the flare was here to stay for a bit. I brought my finger less gloves out of hiding again. I am almost full body at this point. I have a rash of fine red itchy dots over the majority of my person. The most unaffected area is my head and face (thankfully).

I decided to do a little art project and draw what I picture in my head regarding how my body feels. The red (I know, so clever) is where the rash is the absolute most bothersome. These are the spots that are itching, burning, and/or oozing. No matter what is going on in the day, I can feel these spots. I might be talking to a patient, or trying to cook dinner, but in the background is the itch and pain.

drawn tsw 1-22-16

Here are the pictures of actual body parts. I stuck with legs and hands/arms for the most part because I am terrible at getting clear pictures of other parts. The pictures don’t look as bad as it feels.



Leg Progression

Left hand progression

Right hand progression