It’s Lights Out For You: Light Sensitivity and Psoriasis

It’s very hard for me to forget that somber year in 1963. That’s when my lights went out. If you turned on a light I would just scream in agony. My parents didn’t have a clue of what was going on. To describe it simply, the lights would drive me crazy. I would itch, itch and itch like crazy. This would be the beginning of what would be known to me as psoriasis. Oh yes, everything has an origin; a beginning. This was mine.

Early warning signs of psoriasis

The room I was sleeping in as a child had to be dark. I recall wanting the shades pulled down. I didn’t want the sight of any light. It’s so funny because I remember it like yesterday. My sisters thought I was crazy. I was screaming at the top of my lungs; “turn off the light!!!

I was taken to a doctor with this stuff all over my body. The doctors were baffled at that time. They told my parents to have me wear dark glasses. Really!? On my first day of school this was when the school said I needed to see a dermatologist. I was diagnosed with psoriasis.

I couldn’t even pronounce the word. (My father is 83 now and still can’t say it.) When I look back over the signs and symptoms of these diseases we have; do we really pay attention to the early warning signs? I did because I put two and two together and knew that there had to be a legitimate reason that light irritated my skin. Now that I’m so much older I now realize that psoriasis is not only a skin disease but an autoimmune disease as well. It makes good sense that the ultras of the natural light would affect me.

Left in the dark…

It would be months that my world would be dark. I would take the covers and wrap them around me so that everything would be black. It eased the symptoms, which were excessive burning and itching. My parents had to cover the windows so that light couldn’t peek in. I felt bad that my sisters had to be in the dark, but for me, it was necessary to avoid any light. They would sometimes turn the lights on, not to be mean, but because they didn’t understand my disease.

Can you recall before you got diagnosed the warning signs or beginning signs? Did you think it had anything to do with your current illness? Did it make sense? These are a few questions that I often think about 55 years later.

My origin of being diagnosed with psoriasis was very traumatic. I was a little girl with no comprehension of what was going on with my body. I knew it was not normal and neither was I. I think sometimes how did this affect my sisters? Did this traumatize them? What emotions were going through their head growing up in a house with a sibling that had psoriasis? I went to the source.

My sibling’s point of view

My sister’s documentation of how it was- “I was afraid for you and not knowing what you had. You were always screaming. I was sad to see you go through the bleeding, itching and dealing with light and your skin hurting. I couldn’t express my emotions as being a younger sister, but it was almost like I felt it was a punishment… because maybe we were bad and I was waiting to get it next. I came to realize that we were as much in the dark as you were.”

As an adult, my sisters tell me how much they admired me. They saw my bravery, courage, strength, and determination. The question that remains is – when did your psoriasis originate?

No more are the lights off in my life, they are on and I’m no longer in the dark; welcome to the sunlight in my world.

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