The Spotty Sibling
Last updated: August 2018
My brother called me earlier this year to let me know he was diagnosed with guttate psoriasis. This sounds horrible, and I have felt guilty about it, but there was a small part of me that was not sad about the news. Stay with me here before you write me off as a terrible brother and person. Trust me, my heart lurched because I know what a difficult diagnosis that is. However, at the same time, I had this weird sense of relief that I wasn’t the lone psoriasis sufferer in my family any longer.
My family structure
I am the oldest of six kids. Five of us are boys and I have just one sister. You would think she would be the unique one, but surprisingly it was me that always felt different. If you have read my other articles, you will know that my psoriasis presented itself at a young age and very prominently across my face. I had no idea what psoriasis was before this, and no one in my immediate family had ever experienced it. Aside from that, I had already been diagnosed with asthma by that point, so I was feeling like a real winner in the genetics department.
I can honestly say that my siblings never really said much about my skin. This could be because I am the oldest, and no one messes with the biggest brother! But more realistically it most likely had to do with the fact that when you are around someone or something your whole life, it is all you know, and it becomes normal. They were the only ones that saw my speckled appearance as normal; it was just a part of me.
Now that isn’t to say that our household wasn’t impacted by my disease. Even when there were no babies in our house, there was always baby laundry detergent. I had my own tub of special coal shampoo in the bathroom that all of us shared. While my brothers used the latest fragrances guaranteed to get any women to fall for them, I was stuck with non-scented deodorant and endless tubes of greasy ointment.
"Being unique is not always a bad thing"
It’s hard as a kid to not get sucked into the “why me?” mentality. I struggled with the fact that I had not one, but two chronic diseases. Did I do something to deserve this? If no one else had it, it must have been something I ate or because I didn’t take care of myself enough. I didn’t understand the genetic component of it, and unfortunately, the side of my disease was never explained to me. Heck—I didn’t really understand what chronic meant.
If I got the chance to go back and talk to teenage me, I would tell myself first and foremost that it wasn’t my fault. There is no way I could bring this disease on, just the same as there is no way for me to cure it by changing my behavior. It is just luck (or unluck) of the draw. I would also let myself know that being unique is not always a bad thing. I continued to be different than my siblings as we have aged. I’m the only one married with kids so far, so I am in a different phase of my life completely, but I don’t think of myself better or worse off. I just focus on how I can continually better myself.
I hope every day that my kids don’t develop psoriatic disease, but if they do (or if their kids, or their kids’ kids do) I am comforted by knowing they will not be alone. I will be their fiercest advocate and offer as much help and information as they want. If you are reading this and are the only one with psoriasis in your family, I encourage you to lean on the community of fellow spotty friends, educate your family about your disease, and know you are never alone.
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?