Interview with Xavier Léost, expert patient, about his very first book for children "Dans la peau de Xavier"

"Dans la peau de Xavier", the first book for children written by Xavier Léost, expert patient

Xavier Léost

Interview with Xavier Léost, expert patient, about his very first book for children "Dans la peau de Xavier" (In Xavier's skin) dealing with bullying at school.

A book inspired by his own personal story.

Xavier, tell us about yourself!

My name is Xavier Léost, I am 43 years old, I have had atopic dermatitis since birth and I have also been an expert patient consultant for the Eczema Foundation for almost 2 years.

At the time, I was having a lot of eczema attacks and needed information on the subject. That's when I came across a video by Fanny, an expert patient, who directed me to the Foundation's website.

I contacted them to tell them that I too was ready to share my experience as a patient in my daily life and some time later I became an expert patient. Since then, I have been involved in numerous projects. I am really glad that my experience has been able to help other people who suffer from the same disease as me.

Can you tell us about your book "Dans la peau de Xavier"?

It is a book for children under the age of 10 about bullying at school.

Eczema, like other visible illnesses, sometimes causes children to be mocked or even excluded by their classmates. This book is about my personal experience as a child.

How did the idea of writing this book for children come about?

I have been writing for a long time, I find it very liberating. When you enjoy writing, it allows you to put down on paper what you have in your head and release all the pressure you might be under or feeling. As for this story, it really came to me all of a sudden because, for a long time, I had been wanting to write a complete book about my experience with eczema, my daily life, etc.

Following an event with the Eczema Foundation, I went home to the Île de France and wrote this text in one go, in just one evening.

Naturally, I wanted to share it with the Eczema Foundation team. They immediately offered to publish it. I wasn't expecting it, but I thought it was a great idea and a really good opportunity to highlight my experience.

Today, I am delighted and very proud to have this book in my hands.

Your book deals with bullying at school through your own personal story. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

Absolutely! It's based 50% on my own personal story - with some anecdotes that I lived through as a child - and the other 50% with a touch of "romance" to end on a positive note. I say positive, because this story started when I was 9 years old and lasted a few years but today I can say that it has been positive for me as I am done with all the mockery, and happy again! [LAUGHS]

I was bullied at different times in my schooling because I had eczema. Back then, we didn't have the treatments we have today and eczema was poorly understood. At 9-10 years old, I unfortunately knew very little about my disease and I didn't try to find out much about it... So when it itched, well, I just scratched! Scratching had become a reflex, an automatism, and that's when the bullying started: a classmate regularly mimicked me, he had given me a nickname. The others, of course, gradually copied him, and it became real bullying.

That's just one example of what I went through but there were many humiliations and it lasted throughout my schooling. The school had to intervene to put an end to it, we were on the verge of filing a complaint for "mild violence"...This is a subject that is very close to my heart, and it is also why I volunteer for an association that combats bullying in general.

What advice can you give today to people who are going through the same thing?

It is important to remember that bullying can affect many children because there are many different reasons for being humiliated. Whenever you are a little "different" you can end up being bullied. A single word or a single taunt can be felt with great violence, especially by children. It is not only physical but also psychological and that is why it is necessary to react quickly and not take it lightly.

I hope that this book will strike a chord with many families, both with the bullies who haven't realized the significance of what they are doing and with the children who are being bullied.

The goal is obviously to make the "bullied" child understand that it is not he or she who should be afraid or stressed by this situation, but rather that it is bullies who should be ashamed of making fun of someone because they are different.

You don't choose to have a visible disease, which is already very difficult to live with on a daily basis. Parents should not hesitate to talk to teachers to encourage them to make the whole class aware of the impact of the disease.

 

To provide information and practical advice to the child's school entourage.

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