Progression from left to right of male figure with psoriasis from self-conscious to confident

Why Hide?

About a week ago I was at IKEA with my wife and kids, and I realized something about myself. I have gotten to the point in my psoriasis journey where I don’t think about my skin in public settings anymore. The only time it reclaims my attention is when I catch someone staring, but even then I refuse to let it bother me. WHY HIDE?! It would be like hiding myself from the world, hiding who I truly am. I am not saying that my psoriasis is “who I am”, but it is a major characteristic of mine, like a piercing or a tattoo. It determines what a person’s first impression of me is. It is also my responsibility as someone with this disease to educate people who may not know what it is, and I can’t do that if I’m trying to hide.

Being scared of being seen with psoriasis

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there with psoriasis who are so scared of being seen, that they do anything they can to hide it from everyone. This used to be me. In fact, this was me just a few years ago. I would wear long sleeves during the summer, even if it was 90 plus degrees outside. I was totally miserable in public places. I was caught up in this isolation, this silence. I didn’t want to speak up, because in my mind no one could possibly understand what I was going through. But here is the thing: I was cheating myself. What didn’t occur to me at the time was that I was also cheating those people as well.

Being open to talking about my psoriasis

Because I was hiding my condition from the world, I wasn’t giving people the opportunity to ask questions. I’ve come to realize that questions aren’t a bad thing. A decade ago I found questions to be insulting because I thought they were judging me. I made the conscious decision to change my perspective. Someone who is asking may be genuinely curious about it. I chose to assume the best in people instead of the worst because I wanted to be more open to speaking positively about my disease. For all I knew, this person had someone in their life who has psoriasis and they want to talk someone about it.

Dealing with rude comments and questions

People who ask questions aren’t automatically mean, but don’t get me wrong I have dealt with my fair share of jerks too. Those mean questions come up time to time, and I have found appropriate ways of dealing with that, which includes staying confident. Being ashamed of my plaques will only reinforce that it is something that is “gross” or “bad”. Talking clinically about my disease and responding with facts instead of fighting fire with fire usually diffuses the situation. People that ask the mean questions and make rude comments usually don’t know anything about psoriasis.

I hope this was helpful to anyone who still feels the need to hide their psoriasis from the world.  I also hope that you can find the courage to put yourself out there and educate those who may just want to know. Don’t hide, you are worth being seen.

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