Girl, You Don't Look Sick!
Last updated: March 2022
Recently, as the pandemic is shifting, I went out with friends to play catch up on life. It felt so good to talk about advocacy, mentoring, and feeling comfortable in my skin. Then, it happened.
One friend says mid-conversation: "I never knew about your psoriasis, girl, you don't look sick".
Managing life with an invisible illness...
Immediately there was a brief pause. I knew that the comment wasn't meant to offend. Unfortunately, often those of us who live with conditions whether autoimmune or immunocompromised may run into people who may not understand that they may not always be able to see what is ailing us.
That's why it is even more so important to educate those who are around us.
What does sick even look like?
Most of us within this community over time become professionals in mastering our flares. We avoid black and navy clothing so that our scales from scalp psoriasis won't be seen. Some folks including myself cover up with clothing when it was blazing hot out.
Makeup becomes more than just a fun thing, but something used to hide if there are flares on your face. The list goes on. Time, energy, and attention to detail are everyday things that the world doesn't know about.
Over time we learn it is truly not our jobs to convince others of our personal struggles. People only see what we want them to.
Educate, educate, educate
I owe nothing to anyone about my health. Diagnosis is validation enough. Anything else is unnecessary, you live and breathe with psoriasis every day. It's annoying to hear people say things like you don't look sick.
Try flipping it. Changing it up and saying thank you because I don't want to look sick may do the trick.
Lack of knowledge often is the reason people may react or respond with commentary that feels offensive. They really may just not know. Instead of getting angry or sad about it, allow yourself if comfortable to educate.
In awkward moments I would just share. It can be cathartic, holding things in is difficult. Hiding constantly is a challenge and exhausting itself, so being a bit more open can help others learn and help you to release. It personally has been a saving grace even in the weird times.
It's okay to be annoyed
Your feelings are your own. There's no judgment in being annoyed by commentary, stares, or even lack of knowledge the world may have. We are all just living and learning to manage day to day with life in general. Having psoriasis is just another layer of our lives that we learn to deal with.
Stress and anxiety for myself often lead to flares. I try to not allow things to bother me or stress me because it can literally impact my body. That's where I go to in my head when people say things that could seem like minimizing what I deal with on a day to day.
We all have more power and control in certain circumstances than we think, we just have to accept our strengths. Have your ever experienced anything like this? What have you done to get past the opinions or comments from others?
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?