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Talking About Chronic Blushing & Erythrophobia: Fear of Turning Red

In my research I've found that many who experience chronic blushing also deal with shame surrounding the blushing.

For most of us, we had an experience that changed everything.

A moment where we turned red and someone pointed it out, drawing all attention to us and our redness (which probably made you more red).

It's our childhood fear of being bullied, laughed at, seen as different, misunderstood, not accepted.

I've heard from many people that did experience this as a child or teenager. But for me, it was when I was in my 20's. The experience was still similar to that of a child. I got worked up about something. I felt myself get hot and flushed, but then someone said, "Oh my god! Are you okay? Your chest is super splotchy and red. It looks like you're having an allergic reaction."

I then looked down at my chest and saw what they saw.

That one moment changed my life forever.

I became hyper sensitive to the temperature of my skin. I was so embarrassed by being called out for turning red that I never wanted to experience that ever again.

I became incredibly self-aware while being in groups and talking to others. The fear of turning red was in the forefront of my mind and therefore I would turn red out of my self-induced fear.

I was caught in a cycle.

I didn't know what was wrong with me or why this was happening. The internet didn't help. No one around me experienced this and the last thing I wanted to do was talk about it or ask others if they experienced it.

So, I hid.

For years.

Until one day I had this idea that if I started talking about this condition, maybe I wouldn't be so afraid of it. Maybe it would lose its grip on me.

So, I started a youtube channel to talk about it. I did not want to talk to anyone in my sphere. I wanted to talk to people who did not know me.

I turned my camera on and started talking. To no one, but it felt like a sea of people. I let all my fears and insecurities come out right there on camera. Then I posted the video publicly for all the world to see.

No one saw it right away. But over time, people started finding the channel. They were relieved that they had found someone talking about the condition. We started building more and more community around erythrophobia and chronic blushing. It became a space were we could openly talk about all the things we were hiding from.

Over time, I started gaining the confidence and strength to share with some people who are closest to me. I started having more open conversations with my husband about it. He said he had noticed it but it wasn't a big deal. I shared that it was a big deal to me and all the reasons why.

I also shared with one of my closest friends. She said she had noticed it before too. I told her the worst thing you could ever do is point it out or make a big deal out of it. Even now, if I flush or blush, she won't say a word because she knows how it affects a person who has chronic blushing.

My biggest struggle with blushing has been in the work place. I am a corporate executive. In my head, part of job is to show I have it "together" (whatever that means). So, being red and splotchy over the smallest conversation shows that I am anxious, angry, upset, etc. In my head, this means I am not in control. I cannot be trusted to help run an organization. People won't respect a person who is turning red for no reason (most of the time). This is the meaning I assigned to this condition. No one has ever said they think I'm incapable.

Last year I wrote openly on my personal facebook page about my overactive nervous system. I referenced the blushing but didn't focus too much on it. THIS was a huge step for me to openly admit near my sphere of people who know me and my coworkers.

Recently, during a call with a guy on my direct team, the conversation took a bit of a turn and I was able to share a little bit about my overactive nervous system and how I turn red all the time. It was brave moment for me. But I went for it!

He didn't freak out at all. He intently listened to me and then we moved on to a new topic.

When we talk about chronic blushing, erythrophobia (fear of turning red) starts to lose its power. Talking openly breaks the cycle in our minds. Knowing that we are not alone empowers us. The more we are having the conversation with each other, the more we loosen the grip of shame around turning red. Which we truly have no control over, by the way. We can try to reduce it and ease it, but if your system is overactive, it's overactive. That doesn't mean you are wrong or broken. It just is what it is.

As of now there's not enough research to truly understand all the ins and outs. But I do know that for those of us who blush frequently, we are not alone.

At all.

If you're looking to reduce your blushing, check out the Blushing Phoenix Tea Blend

And if you'd like to hear more about my experience with sharing my story with a coworker, check that out here

You are absolutely not alone and this condition will not dictate the rest of your life!

Talk soon.


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