Crossing Paths in Secret with Psoriasis
Back in 2005 while attending Alabama State University, I met a young man by the name of Eric at my school who was in the band. We were a part of the same social circles, attended the same parties, and chatted in front of the dorms. We passed each other almost every day and it wasn't until 10 years later that he and I would find out during our time at ASU, we had much more in common than the same Alma mater.
After years of hiding my psoriasis, in 2011 I started to slowly to speak out about my disease through blogging since then my advocacy has grown. One day Eric inbox me and complimented me on my work, and that's when he also revealed that he too had battled psoriasis since the age of 13.
A secret shared
We passed each other every day on campus and hung out with the same people and neither one of us had ever had the courage to discuss our disease. Most recently I had the chance to sit down with Eric and spoke face-to-face to learn more about his struggle with psoriasis.
As our discussion advanced we both recalled that time in college feeling so alone, yet we didn't know we had someone right in front of us we could use as support. This is the story for many of those living with chronic illnesses like psoriasis, they live in silence and shame.
"It mainly affects my face. So I’ll get patches on my lips, around my nose, my right eye, on my forehead, and on my hands," said Eric during our chat at Starbucks, patches I had never noticed while we attended school together. We went on to share our unique struggles and experiences having the disease as the opposite sex.
I remember being covered 90% and always wearing clothes which covered my disease. Sometimes I even had patches on my face which I would simply cover up with makeup, but for Eric, camouflaging his disease wasn't as simple. "The hardest part is the fact it’s on my face and I can’t cover it. And I’m a guy so it’s not like I can wear makeup. If I wore makeup to cover the psoriasis then I would be talked about for being a dude that wears makeup." We chuckled to his point, but it was a truth to having this disease as a male that I had never thought about before.
Sharing coping strategies
Although he wasn't able to hide his psoriasis with makeup he did find ways to cover his insecurities about having the disease, "I felt like people would feel like if I came up and I touched them on the hand they would get what I had on my face..." Due to this stigma, which I too experience, Eric went about dating in a different way. He revealed to me that he was always afraid of approaching a woman he did not know. He feared women would think his condition was contagious, "For a long time I was afraid to approach a girl and ask for her phone number, because of this I’ve only dated girls that I’ve worked with or I went to school with... so that I would have a thousand chances to work up the nerve to speak to them." Dating with psoriasis is a struggle shared by many. Luckily for the both of us, we can't recall any of our past partners being negative in regards to our conditions. We both found people who were accepting of our disease and also embraced it, but this isn't a victory that all people with psoriasis can claim. Some I have talked to have shared very hurtful stories of dating and having psoriasis.
There is no cure for this disease. So at the end of the day you have to learn ways to cope and manage the disease the best you can, "The most important part is just to accept that you have this disease and be okay with it, then you can start to see that other people are okay with it too. A big turning point in my life was just being okay. Just being okay with who I am as a person and not being afraid of people picking me apart," says Eric.
How often do you experience brain fog?