The Impact of Psoriasis
Years ago, I overheard a colleague describing me to another employee. "Oh, you know, the girl with the scales on her skin." I don't know if she meant it to be hurtful, but it certainly was.
It confirmed my biggest fear. That the outside world only sees psoriasis plaques and nothing else. I've had plaque psoriasis since I was 5 years old. I've never experienced remission. Psoriasis is a visible disease that oftentimes feels like you can’t hide from or ignore for a single minute.
Facing stigma even before a diagnosis
I'm amazed at what I am able to recall from my memory. I remember those early days of doctors' appointments and searching for a diagnosis to define what was happening to me and my skin. Was it an allergy? Was it eczema? Finally, psoriasis. A word I could barely say, let alone understand.
A the time, 80% of my body was covered in dry, dark, itchy patches. They were very painful and very annoying. I missed school a lot. Faculty openly called me the girl with the skin condition. My peers referred to me as the girl who wore long sleeves all the time.
Schools and gatherings soon became my least favorite places. I despised it when visitors and family came to visit. They always pretended not to notice my skin yet offered unsolicited "solutions."
A psoriasis support group turned it all around
It took me many years to begin getting used to my psoriasis. Creams, lotions, light therapy, pills, and injections had become a part of who I was. Accepting myself was hard. A constant practice. At the suggestion of my family and parents, I found solace and connection in support groups.
Psoriasis was just a condition. One that couldn't take away my inner beauty. The road to accepting myself allowed me to find advocacy. I eventually became strong enough to speak in front of people.
I now write, blog, advocate and speak professionally on this disease. I'm looking forward to doing even more incredible things. And hopefully, in my lifetime, I will be able to see the first steps of a potential cure.
Psoriasis stigma can be found anywhere
I would be lying if I didn't tell you that I was hesitant and held fear of having children. I did want any of them to experience the trauma caused by this debilitating condition. I did have children, though. All psoriasis free.
There is still the possibility that one or more may develop psoriasis. When and if they do, they will be ready. I am a wealth of information and knowledge. In fact, I recently was sharing with my granddaughter about my early struggles dating with this stigmatized condition.
I can remember my first boyfriend making a disparaging remark about my skin. It took me years to maintain a free and comfortable relationship with any boy. Most couldn't get past my flakes or pretended it didn't bother them.
We are so much more than our psoriasis skin
Psoriasis can turn the most outgoing extrovert into a hermit. Anxiety heightens when faced with social situations. We're terrified someone will call us on our plaques or offer some unhelpful tip. Psoriasis
already takes up so much of our own mental space. Why would we want to talk about it?
For so long, I felt like an outcast. Lonely. But, as time went on, I did accept my psoriasis. When people had questions, I would answer them in such a way that they would not be able to ask me again.
Please don't let psoriasis prevent you from being who you truly are. It's just not worth it. You are so much more than your psoriasis skin.
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