Dealing With Uneducated People
Having psoriasis for sixteen years I have learned not to worry so much about the stares and the silent talks people have between themselves when they see my skin. I am not going to say it was easy because it was not.
Living with a visible disease
One thing psoriasis does when you have it severely is wreck your self-esteem. I was eighty percent covered at my worst so I was very self-conscious about my looks. Like everyone that has had to deal with psoriasis I wore long sleeve shirts along with pants even in the hot, humid South where I live. You would never catch me in short sleeve shirts or shorts for fear of the reactions I would get from people. As it was I had psoriasis on my hands which made it impossible to hide them. I dealt with people seeing my hands with this look of disgust on their face with always the same question coming next. Were you chemically burned? If I had a dime for the number of times I had been asked that I would be rich. I sure did not want them seeing what the rest of my body looked like.
Now I am much stronger than back then. It took time but I do not put as much weight into those stares or silent talks as much as I used to. I have learned that the cooler I stay the better my psoriasis does. I wear short sleeve shirts and shorts in the spring and summer. Most of the time you will find me with no socks on my feet unless I have to go out in public. I am still a work in progress as far as not fully caring what others say or how they look at me. I hope to one day get to that point. As the saying goes you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. I can say that when I am home I go without socks and shoes even when people come over. I usually have to explain it to those people at first but I figure if they are my friends then they have to take that side of me as well. Does it make me nervous for them to see me the first time? Yes, I have to admit it does at first.
Educating the uneducated
That is where educating the uneducated about psoriasis comes in. Years ago there were not all these commercials about psoriasis treatments that you see on television today. If I see someone in public staring at me I am quick now to tell them I have psoriasis. I will follow that up with asking them if they have heard about it. Some people I will admit turn and move out of my presence. If they choose to speak to me further I find out if it is just from the television commercials or by chance do they know about it in some other way. The ones who stay and continue the conversation gets me excited to tell them about psoriasis.
Opportunities to spread awareness
Sometimes I find out it is that they have heard of it but really knows nothing about it. Other times I find out that someone they know has it. I ask them if there is any questions I can help them with. As long as they are willing to talk I am willing to educate. It takes starting that conversation however. By doing that we are making a difference in spreading the word about psoriasis. What if no one started that conversation? There are always going to be people who stare, but by educating them psoriasis no longer becomes the thing they know nothing about. By educating them you might just stop the next person with psoriasis from being stared at by that same person. It is only through educating the uneducated that psoriasis no longer becomes a stigma that we have to deal with when we go out in public. Who will you educate today?
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